History of violence, abuse, and neglect are not commonly found on the list of positive business owner attributes. I don’t think any of these are identified on any strengths tests. But they should be.
It was only a few years ago I realized I had PTSD. Before that, I saw PTSD as something that happened to other people. People who experienced real trauma. I’m not exactly sure why I thought my trauma was anything other than real, but I suspect it has something to do with the psychological torture I experienced at the hands of my mother.
Despite my denial and the denial of those around me, it was there. All up in my shit.
Most of the realization came after I did EMDR — a treatment process that literally changed my life. It was the first time I could look directly at my past without having to relive it through talk therapy. I didn’t have to decide what was trauma and what wasn’t. I needed someone to take that decision out of my hands because it was a decision I couldn’t make. I had been brainwashed to believe I was a liar, a manipulator, and a person who enjoys playing the victim.
I went to EMDR not necessarily because I wanted treatment, but because I knew this shit was holding me back from being successful in business. I was ready to go big, and I couldn’t go big if I believed I was a fraud.
Within six months of completing my EMDR sessions, my business exploded. I doubled my revenue and sold out a retreat in twelve hours. In the year following that, I published my second book, had my first acceptance to a magazine publication, bought a second business, and started a third.
Once I actually got real about having PTSD, I could see how it impacted my life — the good, bad, and ugly of it.
Here are four surprising ways PTSD has helped me in business.
I can smell bullshit a mile away
Even convincing, well-dressed bullshit. When your world is filled with people intent on hurting you, you learn to get a good read on all who enter your sphere. I had a hard enough time meeting my basic needs; I had no time or energy for bullshit. This means I don’t get suckered very often and can avoid smarmy people trying to trick me out of my money and time. If you can expertly flip your business card at me like a sharpshooter, I’m out.
I am resourceful
I vigilantly watch for the opportunities that will allow me to stay one step ahead of what is happening around me. I find people, connections, and doors that others miss, and that’s often what separates businesses who make it and those that don’t — the ability to get what you need when you need it.
I’m not afraid of a fist fight
I don’t mind conflict. It’s not hard for me to hold people to deadlines and make sure they are meeting the needs of my business. Power and domination are common tactics others will use to get a better deal or weasel their way into places they haven’t earned. Fuck it, whatever, let’s throw down. After that one time someone launched a one-sided fist fight on my face and then tried to stab me, I’m not really phased by your titles, your industry speak, and your loud voice.
I can do hard things
Running a business often requires you to do things you don’t want to do, see people you’d rather not see, and work late when you really want to be in bed. Learning to navigate a hard world at a very young age requires one to do hard things and make hard decisions. It also requires you to establish what you are willing to do to get what you want. You solidify your own code of ethics and stop giving a shit about what others think, because they are with me or against me. Come with me or get the fuck out of my way because I have shit to do.
So, you see, it’s not all bad. I don’t recommend going out and getting PTSD just so you can be a kick ass business owner, but if you find yourself in the same fucked up club I’m in and live out your life according to traumas that happened in years past, you might as well use what you can to your advantage. People use buzzwords like grit and badass and talk about crushing, unleashing, and unfucking, but there is a difference between using the words and living the life.