Every Inventor is different, no two think the same way or do the same things, they’re like islands and are often a law unto themselves. But what truly drives a successful inventor to reach their ultimate goal, there’s got to be something right?
Well for me, it was to go down my own road in order to find a way to fulfil my potential other’s felt I didn’t possess, you know, the naysayers and the bullies, those who at times during my school days tried to influence my mind to be submissive and negative. Those experiences were tough, but without them I really don’t think I would have had the motivation to develop multiple products and invent a different life for myself – one that those bullies would have hated.
There have been many motivators that have led me to the life and business success I enjoy now, but in a period where my focus has been on Anti -Bullying week (UK) it led me to go back in time and visit the life I used to inhabit as a child, where it wasn’t all rosy in the garden. Here’s a few questions I have answered for local and national press sources…
Explain how you experienced bullying?
When I snatched a skipping rope from another child in the playground as an 8 year old boy, my young mind could never have imagined what would happen next. The boy told his cousins, one who was renown for mentally torturing kids without actually hitting out, and his brother who hit kids for fun, what followed was many months of shear hell. Not stopping there, they recruited around 12 more boys who hunted me down and attacked me through every school break, and my walk home was a series of ambushes.
I remember one of the cousins pinning me down in an alley way, and smashing my head on a slab, it wasn’t just blood that seeped out – all my confidence and self esteem drained away with it.
How did you get through it?
I started to get smarter by anticipating the hiding places those boys would spring from and I learnt to defect the attacks and try and stand up to the hate mob. I was too young to work out a grand plan, but I used to hold my tears until I was alone, somehow my instincts told me to try and not show them how vulnerable and sad I felt. I hid it all from my teachers and parents, maybe because I felt ashamed, and also frightened of the consequences I thought I would suffer through “snitching” – which was seen as a traitorous act.
How did the intimidation affect you?
The whole experience made me feel worthless, humiliated, unlikable and lonely, my confidence was very low. It was the mental intimidation that affected me the most, it’s amazing how words can pierce the heart.
As a teenager I remember not accepting any compliments because I thought I was just one of those people who was unlikable. I then started to overcompensate in how I interacted with children and teachers in school in order to prove my worth, I think I must have been quite irritating in my quest to seek validation.
I was going nowhere positive in my life, and binge drinking seemed to give me the superhuman confidence I thought I needed, until an accident nearly claimed my life, I’d dodged traffic, in front of my pub friends and a car hit me full on. The specialist told me later he’d expected me to be in the morgue – it was my wake up call, and that was the moment I decided to take control of all the negativity.
I ditched my old life and started to bury my thoughts of the bullying before getting married at 24, as I started focusing on my family and career.
How did you use those negative experiences of bullying to your advantage as an adult?
Because of bullying in school and some exploitation and intimidation I’d experienced at work, I had an inner desire to push the boundaries of what I felt I was capable of and start a business, I needed to find out who I was meant to be, not who others perhaps wanted me to be, and that involved leaving someone else’s factory floor to branch out.
It took me 3 weeks to invent the product (at the age of 36) that would be my ticket out of the factory, and I used every ounce of the playground bullying experience and all the negative stuff that happened at work to fuel my ambition, it was a defining moment.
Is your story about using adversity, including childhood bullying as a positive force?
Being an inventor who brings an idea to market is tough, only 1 in 5,000 inventions make money, and the environment you work in can be intimidating, hostile and lonely, but for me it’s nothing like being in that playground as a child, anything I experience as a set back is at least a step better than what happened to me back then, and I think that’s the key to my success.
When I decided to write my book my research told me my readers might want to know something of what may have driven me (the author) to succeed, and immediately I spent an hour pouring out my feelings and writing about the bullying experience and then placed it at the very start of chapter one, despite it opening up a memory I’d buried for so long. This really upset me but I am pleased I left it in – because it makes my story real, and has led some people who read it to open up about similar stuff, and that has really been such a comfort. When putting this into perspective what happened back then is a page or so of a chapter in my book and life, those bullies didn’t define my whole life story, I did. I have learnt in life that you can’t live your life according to how others may want you to, you have to take control yourself, no matter how difficult that may be, but I know that is easier said than done.
It is easy to say this now, because I came through it, but the bully who tortured me mentally in putting me down owned my mind for a while, and I didn’t want to let him own my life. In my world of business I know how to cope with people who try to intimidate me, I’ve learnt how to work around and out think them.
My book is about using adversity in a very positive way as opposed to letting it define you negatively, I have conquered multiple rejections in business, plenty of infringements, litigation cases including hefty legal costs and won through them all, with a positive attitude and often with a smile on my face.
What is your advice to others suffering through the effects of bullying, past and present?
It took me a few years to realise that those who bullied me had the problem, not me. Most bullies try to pin their inadequacies on their victims – so my advice is don’t allow them to take your confidence and win your mind for life.
I have long since learnt to accept compliments and believe those who say that they love me actually do, I know that sounds a little dramatic but that’s how bullying or intimidation can make you feel, forever, if you let it.
Of course I would have chosen not to have gone through what I went through as an 8 year old, but it happened, and you know what, it led me to write my story, giving me an opportunity to inspire others to come through the other side.