Presentation by Drew Deraney
“I have the uncanny knack of taken on multiple life stressors simultaneously. Some life stressors I cause and some just happen. The ones that just happen are the ones where the universe is challenging me to find a better life path and I must recognize those and be grateful.
The life stressors I cause often occur because I live my life by always doing the right thing when nobody's watching, I call this trait, integrity.
I'm not a fan of the status quo. I fight for the underdog and “we've always done it this way” is never the right answer for me.
Some people or organizations don't like freethinkers or questioners. They frown on curiosity, they pushed back on innovation and creativity is not an option. With these self-created life stressors,
I must expect unintended consequences and live and learn from them, and I have.
In addition to having integrity, it's crucial to find the balance between being empathic and being strong. It doesn't have to be an either-or choice. I strive to find that middle ground between being nice and being firm. It's unhealthy when I find myself off balance on the far end of either, if I'm too soft and nice, I’m walked all over and if I'm too fun or assertive, I hit the constraints of any system I'm operating in.”
Drew presented The Eight Life Areas or The Eight Life Domains as Drew calls it.
“When life's going great, you have a white light there. And when things begin to go off kilter, they'll turn yellow. And when it hits the fan, they turn red.
I lived a normal adolescent life. I don't recall upsetting the applecart too much where I had to endure multiple life stressors at the same time, perhaps because research shows that more than 50% of our belief system is formed by the age of seven. I just did what my parents told me to do by the age of 18 or around our junior year in high school. More than 90% of our police system is formed, formed by who and what we're surrounded by in a short 18 years.
I noticed my mind shifting during my junior year in high school, yes, at the age of 18. A shift from not questioning my subconscious belief system to questioning everything. I noticed that my conscious belief system was not along with my unconscious belief system and I had to do something about it.
An interesting side note for you to do with what you wish - the male frontal lobe or the prefrontal cortex that controls judgment and decision-making for males does not mature until the age of 25 to 27. Therefore, men are kind of built to make stupid mistakes at a young age, not fair.
I recall two defining moments for me in college.
- I initially majored in pre-med. I wanted to be a doctor when I switched my major to psychology. In sophomore year, my father was concerned, ‘Dad’ I said, ‘I want to help people in a different way’. And dad says, ‘you can help people in a different way to still make money’, that was his response.
Why did I choose psychology over medicine? I stuck to what my gut told me. It was right for me.
This was the first time I recall making a major decision for me, truth be told I really didn't want to study that much. I often chose to drink at the bar with my roommates instead of studying in the hallway with the biology majors on Thursday nights. Also, physics was not too kind to me.
- I recall during a lunch with my favorite psychology professor, he said, ‘what do you want to do after you leave here, Drew? what do you like?’ I told him what I liked and he suggested healthcare administration.
So in my first healthcare administration job, I worked in the purchasing department and in the operating room for three years in one, and three years in the other. And I certainly have found myself off balance on the far end of being too firm or assertive. And boy did I hit the constraints of the system.
My father always asked me, ‘why do you always have to buck the system?’. So with me entering the workforce and still being who I am and being in an environment that kind of frowned upon freethinkers, I found two of the eight life areas that life domains turn yellow and one turn red (see below).
There were three defining moments during my six years at the hospital.
- I had to learn the needs of doctors and nurses so I could buy the highest quality products for the lowest possible price and help patients heal and save the hospital money. Doctors would ask me, ‘why are you asking me this? Are you questioning my practice pattern?’. ‘No, I'm curious. I want to learn the procedure so I can have articulate conversations with the sales reps and so I don't buy the bells and whistles that aren't necessary for helping the patients’, I answered.
I would say I rock the boat by doing the right thing. I could have just bought the items on the list and had everybody liked me.
- I met my future wife and we got engaged to be married.
- I suffered from professional burnout and I thought an external change away from the hospital would be the solution. And there'll be a pattern here where I turned to the external environment to make a change thinking it's going to help me rather than looking from within.
My next job was at a large national pharmaceutical company and I was a sales representative and it that brought on different challenges. As you can see in the above below, there are more challenges than the hospital did.
There were five defining moments during my one year at this big pharmaceutical company.
- The rules changed and my default reaction was anger, frustration and hurt. I hated the job.
- I am not where I thought my career should be at this point. I enrolled in the company's employee assistance program and I was put on anti-anxiety medication.
- My wife lived in the home we purchased together while we were engaged and I lived at my parents because you can't live with somebody before you're married.
- We got married.
- I had two bosses with different management styles who worked part-time to make them collectively a full-time employee.
I couldn't take the environment anymore. So once again, I thought an external change would be the solution so I decided to go and work for a startup broadband wireless telecom firm. I was the operations coordinator and with those responsibilities comes different challenges. And as you can see below, some of the colors shifted.
There were three defining moments surrounding my one year in telecom.
- I was terminated because the market was saturated this time. The company thought it was an external change that would be the best solution for me.
- I'm at at work and my wife is pregnant with our first child and we had a mortgage to pay.
- On September 11th, 2001, we all know what happened.
So with those changes, I decided to go back to the hospital, to go back to my comfort zone.
And I was the Materials Manager for a same-day surgery center for five years and a Data Analyst and Patient Satisfaction Specialist for strategic planning and business development for five years. It was a 10 year career and things were great in the first five plus years.
There were three defining moments.
- Our first child was born, our son, Matthew.
- Our second child was born, our son, Nicholas. In between though those two kids being born, I had my first ever panic attack at work. When my wife was pregnant with my second child, I was now put on a sleeping pill and additional anti-anxiety meds.
I moved to a different department, and there were six defining moments in the second five years.
- The hospital first one was great. Our third child was born, our daughter, Emma.
- The second defining moment was, was our son Matthew had finally found the diagnosis of autism. And for Nicholas, we found the diagnosis of Crohn's disease. These are other things that we had to deal with, not just our marriage.
- In 2007, I had a back disability, a herniated disc. I had to give up playing sports and it was tough even to coach my kids in baseball.
- I found myself reporting to a horrible boss.
- It was kind of good for me because my boss’ boss who I loved left for a great opportunity to a large famous healthcare system in Manhattan.
- I didn't know this at that time, but I learned much later during this time that my wife felt like I emotionally abandoned her. I did notice shew was acting differently, but I was too wrapped up in myself and what was going on through work to notice. Yet again, I thought an external change would be the solution.
I left that hospital and my former boss’ boss recruited me out to Manhattan and I was the Patient Experience Specialist there for five years. I can never live in easy five years but the first three plus years were great, and there were no defining moments. Everything was beautiful, even though I was the same person that did the same things, everything was beautiful.
The last two and a half years, that's what I guess I was growing out of my comfort zone.
- I had a bad car accident. And for reasons only my wife knows, she questioned the cause.
- My wife left me and we were separated in 2015.
- I learned my wife felt I physically abandoned her when I went to work in Manhattan.
- I tore my ACL and my meniscus coaching my kids in baseball and had surgery.
- I was terminated due to behavioral issues because I'm a questioner.
I found myself going to a hospital in New York state where there were zero defining moments during my first year at the hospital.
However, I had six defining moments on the final seven months plus two months following as I had a nine month stretch of four major life stressors, building content for my book about Overcoming Adversity.
- My divorce was final in April 2018.
- The best day of my recent life was my 50th birthday. I threw myself a birthday party on October 6th, 2018.
- I was terminated by my hospital two weeks after reporting the HIPAA violation. Seven weeks later, the person who violated that HIPAA rule was promoted to my old position.
- My son had suicidal ideations on October, 10 days later after I was let go from that job.
- I spent 40 days with him making sure it was safe. He went to a residential home on December 8th to help himself.
- During that time, my dad got unexpectedly sick and passed away.
Trying to handle everything that happened, I ended up buying a franchise by accident. I didn't really want it, but I knew I wanted to run my own company. I let external circumstances kind of dictate my life.
- The one defining moment was getting a cold call and buying that franchise.
Then I went to become an independent affiliate with a Biotech firm, going back to my healthcare roots.
The biggest defining moment is I just sold my clients for my franchise. And I'm going into helping men overcome adversity.
I'm currently the Chief Resilience Officer for Profit Compassion.
These are all the places I worked because I really focused on external solutions to try to solve my problems.
But I now know that people-pleasing has held me back. I learned that I justified using certain external changes to improve my situation and now realized I need to change internally my mindset and attitude and behavior. If I want to change, I can be both empathic and strong. I don't have to choose one or the other, which I did my entire life. We can be empathic without being a pushover. We can be strong without being a jerk. Don't be too soft and nice or else you'll be walked all over, and don't be too firm or assertive or you'll hit the constraints of any system you're operating in.
With all that stuff, I don't know if I went through more than other people have in 53 years, but truth is, I finally found who I was really as a person. And now I'm actually going to be who I really, really am. And so now I have a Men Supporting Men support group. I'm curating a community for men who either have overcome adversity and want to share how they did it, or men who are going through hell right now. And they need a support system for people to help them out. I also have a few other services that totally support that cause."
From Scott Lask:
"I just want to give you high fives and kudos because as men we're taught to suck it up to be strong, to be stoic. Even though I was fortunate in my dad, when I was a kid, I cut my knee really bad and I didn't want to cry. And he said only ‘a man can cry’.I still saw from it and the fact that you're sharing all it is, it's inspiring. I want to tell you publicly that I will do whatever I can to support your effort because we all have a story. We all have a story and we've all faced things that seem totally insurmountable. And you learn that you either crumble, will you just stay committed because win, lose, a draw, there is always a way. So, thank you, Drew."
I’ve been through my share of adversity with limited support and guidance. Men need, and don’t have, support systems readily available. They need somebody who has their back.
My Men Supporting Men Collaboration Tribe: Curating A Community provides men a place to go for guidance, support and direction to find health ways to grow.
My podcast on overcoming adversity, From Caving In to Crushing It, hosts men who have experienced triumph over tragedy and are stronger human beings for it. Those are the men with whom I’d like to speak.
Profit Compassion. Supporting You To Overcome Adversity"
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