Steer issue 20 March - Page 23

cover to cover
It has been about 35 years since my face graced the
cover of a magazine and my road to success has been
hard. Being a successful model in the late 70’s and 80’s
started me on a journey that would come back to bite
me years later.
It all started with an encounter with a photographer
who told me to take my top off as I posed for some
pictures. My journey to Page 3 Girl was swift as my
19-year-old body hit the mark all to readily.
It wasn’t long before I moved to more satisfactory
work doing TV commercials
and magazines, trips around the
world, posters gracing the walls
of UK cities, success in Japan
where I lived for 6 months.
But my decisions were not
driven by good sense and alongside, but separately to my career,
grew an addiction to hard drugs.
As an executive coach I often
find myself working with leaders,
those at the top who are alone.
One thing I have discovered is
that so often the isolation can
result in suppressed feelings.
How are feelings suppressed?
By working too hard, driving too
fast, eating too much, drinking
too much, watching pornography, anything rather than feeling.
My addiction paid a heavy price, my life in ruins, a
conviction, a lost career, trauma for my family as they
watched in horror as I deteriorated. Full of disastrous
decisions, I finally married my dealer, I had been pregnant, but my addiction resulted in a miscarriage
As a leader, how do you manage when you get to
the end of your tether? Do you share your concerns or
shove it all back down out of sight lest someone see
your vulnerability?
I am known as the miracle girl, I was freed of my
heroin addiction by God healing me instantly. No withdrawal, no side effects!
Did it change me instantly? Not completely. Like
most people I was on a journey. A journey to face myself fully rather than run and hide.
Years later, I became a successful therapist working
with men and women from all walks of life. Often, from
the corporate world; they would appear in my room
full of stress and angst because of overwork and lack
of self-care. Many had their self-worth on the floor and
marriages and relationships in tatters.
I knew they needed to be seen quicker but therapy,
although it requires a step of bravery, is often seen as a
sign of weakness.
I re-trained and now as an executive coach I work
with leaders supporting them to finally face themselves.
My past finally caught up with me on the internet
when my images were discovered. Naked images that
I had never seen, pictures of my beautiful 19-year-old
self. Pictures linked to porn sites. I was so ashamed. I
often found myself working with
those addicted to pornography. I
was a married mum of four. Respected and a professional therapist ,but now I was face to face with
my bad decisions.
What do you do with your mistakes? Drink them away, work them
away, shove them down out of
I decided I would shine a light on
mine and wrote my autobiography. I
use it to challenge the darkness and
those who are addicted to pornography. I then wrote a novel to shine
another light on my past to support
those caught up in domestic abuse.
How does this translate into the
business context?
I believe in authenticity, in congruence. I think that we need to be real to truly thrive. As
an Executive Coach I support business owners and senior leaders to experience a safe, trusting professional
relationship to enable them to be all they can and get
out of the way of themselves.
What about you, what part of the real you do you
take into your professional life? What is your core process, the part of you that gives you purpose and drive?
Sometimes it is good to stand still, take stock, to
understand and come to terms with all that we are. To
risk feeling. Only as we look ourselves in the face can
we truly be free.
Will you take the risk?
Susie Flashman Jarvis is a speaker, writer and executive coach.


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