At the age of 53, a life-changing revelation reshaped my understanding of myself—I am on the autism spectrum, specifically with Asperger's syndrome. This self-diagnosis unlocked a new world of insights into my life's challenges and unique strengths. In this blog, I will share my personal journey of embracing my Asperger's, how it has shaped my leadership style, and the positive impact it has had on my team.
Throughout my life, I often felt different and struggled with social interactions. However, my self-diagnosis has empowered me to navigate these situations more effectively and communicate my experiences with openness and vulnerability to my family and loved ones. This newfound awareness of my strengths and weaknesses allows me to focus on personal growth and continuous improvement.
As a health and safety advisor with Asperger's, my commitment to honesty and integrity stands unwavering. I firmly believe in providing truthful and accurate inspection reports, ensuring transparency and reliability in all aspects of my work. My clients appreciate the honest feedback I offer, knowing they can trust my assessments. Additionally, my keen eye for detail enables me to identify potential hazards and risks in the workplace, ensuring a safer environment for all.
Continuous learning is a core value for me, driving my passion for expanding my knowledge and skills. Over the past five years, I have devoted more than 5,000 self-training hours outside of work to enhance my expertise in health and safety practices. This dedication enables me to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field and offer innovative solutions to my clients.
Recognising my visual learning style, I have implemented memory techniques like the memory palace to achieve academic success and excel in exams. However, I do face challenges when confronted with abstract reasoning or questions lacking direct factual information. Embracing these limitations, I have developed strategies to overcome these obstacles and continue to grow both personally and professionally.
Certain social interactions, especially in crowded construction sites, can be daunting for me. I rely on learned social scripts and specific strategies to engage in conversations and maintain eye contact. I have also invested time in studying body language to better understand and respond to non-verbal cues, which does not come naturally to me.
Change, whether in routine, work processes, or unexpected events, can be particularly challenging for individuals with Asperger's. As someone who thrives in predictable and structured environments, sudden changes can evoke discomfort and anxiety. My company Green Hat Consulting has been incredibly supportive, providing a more structured and predictable work environment and fostering an inclusive and understanding workplace culture.
As the Associate Director/Head of Health, Safety, and Environmental at Green Hat Consulting, I lead by example, inspiring my team to pursue continuous learning. My leadership style is influenced by my experiences with Asperger's, shaping my approach to mentoring my team. I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words, and by demonstrating my commitment to personal growth, I motivate my team to do the same. I am dedicated to creating a safe space for open communication and feedback, ensuring that my team feels comfortable seeking guidance and assistance whenever needed.
Mentoring two inspectors on the NVQ route of health and safety is a role I cherish. Drawing from my experiences, I prioritise their growth and development, providing tailored guidance, support, and encouragement. I empathise with the challenges they may encounter and use my knowledge to help them navigate through obstacles effectively.
By sharing my experiences with Asperger's and how I have overcome challenges, I demonstrate to my team that everyone has unique strengths and capabilities. I encourage them to embrace their differences and use them to their advantage in their learning and professional growth. Through this approach, I foster a culture of inclusivity and understanding within the team, where individuals feel empowered to be their authentic selves. Through sharing my personal journey, I aim to inspire others to embrace their unique qualities and pursue their aspirations, regardless of any perceived limitations. I advocate for individuals with autism, promoting acceptance, and striving for a more inclusive and supportive society.
For readers embarking on a similar journey of self-discovery, my advice is to embrace your uniqueness and set clear, achievable goals. Leverage your individual strengths to navigate challenges effectively, and never stop seeking opportunities for personal growth. Cultivate resilience, celebrate every achievement, and value the diverse perspectives that contribute to your character and perspective. Lead by example, inspiring others through your actions and dedication to continuous improvement. Remember, setbacks are stepping stones to growth, and your journey of self-discovery will lead to a fulfilling and purposeful life.
Embrace the adventure, and let your aspirations lead you to a fulfilling and purposeful life.
For further insights into autism and self-discovery, explore the National Autistic Society's website (www.autism.org.uk). They offer comprehensive information, resources, and support for individuals on the autism spectrum and those seeking to understand it better.
Additionally, consider watching "Chris Packham: Asperger's and Me," a documentary shedding light on Chris Packham's personal journey with Asperger's and providing valuable perspectives on embracing neurodiversity.
Moreover, reach out to local autism centers or support groups for tailored guidance and resources to aid you in your unique self-discovery process.
Remember, "Broken crayons still colour."
Paul Griffiths is Associate Director/ Head of Health, Safety and Environmental at Green Hat Consulting.
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