People often ask: “What does my childhood have to do with the business I run?”
The answer is… Everything!
Effectively growing and leading a business requires executives and owners to be aware of any personal blocks they have that could negatively affect business growth. Past trauma, defined as any event, emotion, environment, or experience that gets jarred into the nervous system, shows up in decisions people make daily. As a business executive, decisions are pivotal.
If an executive has the drive to succeed and is working towards a goal, but seems to be hitting constant obstacles, they may be experiencing the effects of their past traumas.
Here are a few examples of how past trauma can affect business decisions and therefore business growth:
Control freak: Often when trauma happens to a person, control is taken away from them. This often leads them to grab onto any and all control they can. They become obsessed about things. This can cause a struggle to delegate or trust the people around them. Even to the point of sabotaging their businesses because they are afraid to let anyone in, even those who have the experience and ability to help them achieve their goals.
Hesitation in returning phone calls or dealing with confrontation: When people experience rejection, they tend to go against their morals, their ethics, and destroy themselves to not re-feel those negative feelings again. Because of this they tend to reject people before they can be rejected.
Seeing a lack of growth in their company: Executives need to ask themselves if they truly feel worthy of success. While the immediate answer may be yes, because they want it to be and know that’s the “right” answer – if they ask again they may experience some hesitancy. When people are raised on guilt, or their drive and ambition have been viewed as a negative, they may feel unworthy of their success. This could lead to minimizing business successes or sabotaging them sub-consciously.
Horrible hiring: When conducting interviews, meeting with people who reminded an executive of someone specific from their past can unknowingly cause a trauma response. The interviewee may remind them of someone who once bullied them, hurt them, or someone they desperately wanted to be like. They may find themselves saying “yes” to a hire instead of saying “no”, even though they know it is a bad decision.
Giving it all away: Love is not transactional. People are not required to give to receive love, they should give only because they genuinely want to. It is common for people to feel shame for their success and therefore give it away to achieve love. What they don’t realize is that no matter what they give, others will still not love them more. It is important for them to know their worth, to understand and feel that they deserve love that is true and genuine.
Constantly self-sabotaging themselves and their business: When executives have fear around failing due to feeling embarrassment or shame, they tend to sabotage their success when they get close to pivotal moments of achievement. If they can take a moment to recognize where they have failed in the past, and how they experienced extreme judgement, they can identify what has been holding them back and continue through the fear to even greater success.
The key is to dig in and do the work, not just in business, but personally as well. Executives need to ask themselves questions and take a good look at what is happening in their business. When they become aware of their triggers and can focus on ways to heal them or remove them, they will then see positive changes in their business.
Healing from past traumas is such a horrifically beautiful experience. There is so much beauty beyond the pain. When owners take the time to look at one area of their business that is hitting a block, identify the pain points and what they are linked to, that curiosity and exploration leads to the opportunity to fix it. When business is a reflection of them, they get to decide what it looks like.
Written by Dawn Taylor.
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