Dr Jude Burke - The Adversity Advantage

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In her upcoming new book, The Adversity Advantage: Turn Your Childhood Hardship into Career and Life Success, Jude Miller Burke, PhD, former Vice-President of Operations, Optum, at United Health Group, psychologist, and executive coach discusses how childhood trauma and adversity, in all forms ranging from abuse and neglect to poverty and violence, does not have to deter you from attaining personal happiness and career success. Rather, survival skills learned during childhood can be used to enhance and propel your career. 

Drawing from her background of counseling hundreds of men and women for over 25 years, as well as her most recent phase of research into childhood adversity and work success, Dr. Burke continues to study factors that lead to and interfere with career achievements. The Adversity Advantage paints a clear picture on how to ensure childhood problems are not compromising your career, and how to use hard won survival skills to your advantage at work. 

Through conducting, studying, and interviewing over 300 men and women, each earning an average income of $250K a year, Dr. Burke presents an in-depth glimpse into the lives of highly successful artists, business owners, CFOs, CEOs, VPs, architects, attorneys, therapists, medical doctors, and many more. By telling their stories, she describes their turning points and how they worked hard to reduce their shame, improve their self-confidence, manage their emotions at work, learn conflict negotiation skills, improve their communication, and ensure their leadership skills were not compromised by their childhood problems. Dr. Burke's previous book, The Millionaire Mystique, focused on the stories, advice, and pathways to success as described in research by 100 self-made female millionaires. 

In The Adversity Advantage: Turn Your Childhood Adversity Into Career and Life Success, you will learn:

·       How common and impactful childhood abuse, witnessing domestic violence, and having an alcoholic parent is – Half of your employee group walks into work in the morning and brings childhood dysfunction with them. Of course the workplace has no obligation to help employees recover, but directly and indirectly is a way for them to recover from past wounds. Accepting challenges, overcoming obstacles, achieving goals, forming healthy relationships, and experiencing the rewards of success leads to healing from the past. This group of highly successful men and women had similar levels and higher than average rates of family alcoholism and abuse, but it did not deter them from achieving occupational success and well-being. They reported the significant negative impact of childhood abuse, such as anxiety, depression, conflict avoidance. But, they also reported higher than average life satisfaction and described the survival qualities that enhanced their work life, such as compassion, intuition, being a student of good communication, and patience.

·       This adversity affected the men and women at the same rate – Often we see familial violence as an issue for women only, but this study demonstrates how common it also is for men. The women did report more consequences to the childhood problems as an adult, such as more career detours, career failures, avoidance of social activities at work, downplaying their femininity, prejudice and discrimination, avoiding arguments, and more frequently owned their own businesses as a way to retain independence.

·       The Big 5 Personality Traits that enhance success regardless of one's childhood- This group of highly successful men and women were higher in the traits of openness/creativity, agreeableness/flexibility, conscientiousness, resilience, and core self-evaluation. Men were higher in positive self-regard, whereas the women were higher in the traits of extraversion, and neuroticism. (Women who were victims of abuse has lower rates of self-core evaluation.)

·       How to Rebuild Shattered Self-Confidence from Past Trauma- The Adversity and Success participants revealed that lack of self-confidence, which nearly always stemmed from early life experiences, makes everything in your career- and your daily life- much more difficult. Self-worth is compromised with childhood trauma, yet it is considered “the single most important factor in determining happiness in life and success, and in work and relationships.” It is needed for forming authentic relationships with your co-workers, honing a professional way of speaking, handling discrimination, meeting new challenges, making negotiations, grooming your personal appearance, and so much more.

·       How to Recognize and Resolve Your Emotional Triggers at Work- Of the 300 men and women Dr. Jude assessed, nearly all of them cited the absolute importance of recognizing when you’re being triggered at work, observing your behaviors and reactions to those triggers, and seeing those events as opportunities to become stronger and more resilient.

·       The Connection Between Childhood Adversity and Leadership Abilities- Dr. Burke’s data reveals why both the positive and negative impact of childhood abuse can influence one’s leadership style.

·       The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Career- The research also showed that those who grew up without clear boundaries at home were more unlikely to set appropriate boundaries with co-workers. When professional lines are blurred, work becomes more burdensome and is more likely to result in unhealthy relationships with co-workers. On the other hand, having well developed boundaries at work increases your social influence, political networking skills, and well-being at work. 

·       The Negative Impact of Adult Toxic Relationships- Dr. Burke goes beyond childhood abuse to analyze how unhealthy relationships in our adult lives impact work style, work engagement, and career trajectory. The despair, depression, and trapped feeling of being in an abusive relationship is draining and makes it impossible to feel hopeful and enthusiastic about the future.

·       Creating Resiliency and Rewriting Your Story- Each person interviewed recalled a specific turning point in their journey as critical to their success- a time when they realized that an eating disorder, panic attacks, work problems, or marital issues were overwhelming their lives and were only going to get worse. It’s only when they decided they did not want to continue experiencing the issues that stemmed from childhood that they were able to being practicing skills that led to greater resilience.