Sectors » Race
Personal development: the key to overcoming adversity
Cheryl Cole is the editor of DiversityQ
Ryan Jackson, CEO of Gemini Parking Solutions, the UK’s only values-based car park management company, was saved from a life of crime through personal development.
Having worked harder and smarter to overcome racial stereotypes, he discovered how ‘opportunity’ was the reward for overcoming adversity.
If Ryan Jackson could step back in time, he would struggle to recognise himself. When he was in his teens and early 20s, his outlook on life was “a million miles away” from where he is today.
Then he believed that success was limited to a lucky few that didn’t include, “a young, mixed-race guy with a twang and tattoos”.
“I very much became a product of my environment,” Ryan reveals. “Becoming involved in crime in order to create the lifestyle I aspired to. Luckily for me, I was thrown a lifeline through the discovery of personal development which undoubtedly changed my life forever.”
Ryan continues: “One of the breakthroughs from discovering personal development was the level of self-awareness it brought. Reading books by Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn and Paulo Coelho allowed me to discover my true self and gave me a sense of empowerment which I never had before.
“The main reason why so many people don’t succeed in life is because of their lack of belief. A lack of belief in what’s possible and ultimately not believing in themselves. For the first time, this new perspective encouraged me to raise my standards and my expectations of what can be achieved.”
Fulfilling a business ambition
Ryan recognised that crime was not the answer and had always envisioned running his own business. He just needed a platform to prove himself. The stage was set when a friend suggested that Ryan should consider setting up a car clamping company. He dismissed it at first, until another friend, unconnected to the first, made a similar suggestion.
“After further exploration, I took the necessary steps to make it happen and set up the company,” he says. “That was it, I was now committed to becoming the best version of me and dedicated time to learning, reading and attending courses.
“The business quickly developed into a car park management company, helping a number of local companies control their parking through pay and display and so on. I became passionate about running an ethical enterprise, fair for car park users and business owners, and dispelling the bad reputation that parking companies have.
“Despite this, I was still very mindful of how others perceived me in business. Because of potential negative perceptions, I knew that I had to do more in order to disperse judgement and stereotypes. This only pushed me to work on myself more, to become smarter and better in how I worked.”
But, Ryan believes, it was a negative experience that was the turning point for his success today. Five years after setting up the business, he went through what he describes as a personal blow-out which resulted in a great deal of mental and emotional turmoil. Suddenly, he was plagued by anxiety and did a lot of soul-searching as he embarked on a journey of self-discovery.
He began to revaluate his own values and purpose, as well as of his business, and felt unfulfilled and dissatisfied with his life, especially work. Ryan describes it as a “mini early mid-life crisis”.
“I believe that such experiences are wake up calls necessary to put us back onto our true path,” he explains. “Through the adversity of this experience, I came out the other side with total clarity about who I was, my values and my passions in life. It also confirmed my knowing that within adversity comes opportunity.
“From a business perspective, operating in a sector that has attracted such a negative reputation, it provides a huge opportunity to build a company that is recognised for all the right reasons, setting a benchmark for fairness, compassion and going beyond the status quo.”
His company, Gemini Parking Solutions, is the only values-based car park management company in the UK.
Ryan is keen to point out that his success has not come overnight. “It’s taken years of dedication, commitment and discipline to achieve the things that I have done, things I never thought possible as a youngster,” he says.
“The path I walk now is one of empowerment, focus and responsibility. I know that I have the ability to create the life that I desire and choose to do so in line with my higher values.”
Ryan continues: “There is a saying that with great power comes great responsibility and this has never been so true. It’s my goal to use businesses as vehicles to create positive change within the world, bring about self-awareness and help move others from a place of scarcity to one of endless possibilities and abundance.”