Have you ever allowed yourself to be so vulnerable that you felt naked? That’s what happened to me while I delivered the closing keynote at my fourth annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference. I spoke on the topic, “Your Life. Your. Story: What to Do When You Have a Story to Share”. It was the second time that I had spoken on the topic. The first time was for a webathon hosted by Lucy Brazier, the editor of Executive Secretary Magazine. However, this time was different. This time I wasn’t alone in a conference room with my laptop. This time I was in a room full of women that I am honored to serve and affectionately and proudly refer to as “Mavens”. These women have their own stories to share but there I was sharing mine. And I felt naked but not afraid. Sharing my story was cathartic and allowed me to be unapologetic about who I am. Being vulnerable is liberating because it erases any preconceived notions of perfection or lack of challenges. Being vulnerable is an act of acceptance of oneself. In the article, “Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable” by Daniel Wallen, here are the benefits of being vulnerable:
1. You will learn to appreciate the quirks that make you unique. Being vulnerable will help you embrace the strange (interesting) and quirky (unique) things that make you special. While you might call certain personal characteristics are “awkward,” they are only awkward if you don’t accept yourself, and consequentially feel uncomfortable in who you are. We are all crazy in our own ways; and if you’re going to be weird, you might as well be confident about it.
2. You will make peace with troubling memories from your past. Being vulnerable will help you get rid of pent-up baggage that bothers you. While it isn’t easy to deal with painful memories, it is better to confront your past than it is to hide from it. We all have made bad decisions we regret, so don’t even think about judging yourself; search for a lesson or takeaway that will help you prevent similar mistakes in the future and let it go.
3. You will attract the right kind of people into your life. Being vulnerable will help you understand what types of people you can most relate to. While you might be tempted to hang out with whoever crosses your path, it is better to choose your friends carefully. We all have made the mistake of telling something personal to somebody we shouldn’t have, and ended up getting hurt due to backstabbing or betrayal; it is good to love all people without question, it is best to only put total faith in true friends worthy of trust.
4. You will find it easier to empathize with the struggles of others. Being vulnerable will help you develop empathy for others. While it’s easy to throw a fit when something terrible happens to us, it is a lot harder to demonstrate compassion for the struggles of another person. We all have been guilty of getting so caught up in our own lives that we forget the world doesn’t revolve around our needs; before behaving like an upset infant, remember that many people face hardships that you couldn’t begin to imagine.
5. You will earn the trust of people at work. Being vulnerable will help you grow closer to the people in your workplace. While you might think you deserve a raise just because of your hard work, you need to remember that no amount of book smarts can make up for a complete lack of emotional intelligence. We all have complained about getting “passed up” for a promotion; before assuming you’re “under-appreciated,” take an honest look at your ability to communicate and work together with your fellow co-workers.
6. You will strengthen your bond with your romantic partner. Being vulnerable will help you bond with the person you love most. While you might be afraid to reveal your deepest and darkest secrets due to a fear of judgment, doing so will put your mind at ease. We all have put up barriers to protect ourselves from getting hurt; but if you hope to spend the rest of your life with a particular person, don’t you think it would be best to be forthcoming with the important truths that they would like to know?
7. You will humanize yourself in the eyes of others. Being vulnerable will help you demonstrate that you are an approachable person who is kind and considerate. While it isn’t easy to find the courage to reveal our true nature, there is no better way to encourage others to accept themselves. We all have fought with a lack of esteem at one time or another.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.
Dr. Brené Brown – Daring Greatly
What I’ve come to notice over my four decades and some change here on this Earth is that people are hard-headed. The elders have a saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.” I’m going to take a risk and probably offend some people but know that I do it from a place of love. I’m not the type of person that can see someone going to the waters’ edge and know full well that they can’t swim and they don’t have a life jacket. So when I dispense advice on things that I am a “life witness” to not an “eyewitness” to, it’s discouraging and sometimes infuriating when you’re met with a know-it-all attitude. Yes, you can have in-depth conversations about the what-ifs but until you’ve actually experienced something for yourself, don’t dispute it with someone who has gone through what you’re going through. Don’t base your argument on a hypothetical situation that probably will not go as scripted or may never happen. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. As parents, we tell our kids not to touch the stove because it’s hot. What happens? They touch it anyway. Why? Because they don’t know what “hot” means. As an adult, if someone is trying to help you by imparting “life witness” experience…accept the help and heed their warning. Unfortunately, women can be the worst culprits (raising hand). We are a bunch of Type A, cape wearing individuals who believe that we are always right. News flash. We are not always right. While we might be very intuitive and in tune with our surroundings, there are some things that we just don’t know.
Since when has it become a sign of weakness to say that you don’t know? Since when has it been a disgrace to say ‘I am not sure’? Since when has it become profanity to say ‘I need help’? Today I want you to think about where you need help. I want you to think about the things you have been struggling with and are too embarrassed to ask for help. Listen, no one likes a know-it-all but most people love to help.
Are you stuck looking at a huge task, that you haven’t taken the first step? Starting a big project can be overwhelming if you are looking at it in its entirety. You might be wondering, “How am I going to get this done?” The trick is plan backwards while you keep moving forward. The second habit in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is, to begin with the end in mind. Planning in reverse helps you imagine different scenarios, figure out the what ifs and come up with solutions. In other words, going backwards can help you put the “meat” on the “skeleton” of your plan.
Today I challenge you to see your success and then create the plan in reverse. To get to D, what do you have to do C, B and A. Start with A and be confident in your success.
P.S. Registration for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference closes on Saturday, September 23. Register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.
Sometimes the hardest decisions that you have to make are the ones that involve what you are passionate about. In December 2013, I floated the idea of hosted a women’s conference. In April 2014, the inaugural Work Your Package Women’s Conference was held followed by two more in 2015 and 2016. On September 6, 2017, I shared with The Maven Network that the 4th conference would be the last…for awhile. As much as I love producing the Work Your Package Women’s Conference, I realized that while I was capable of saying “no” to others, I struggled with saying “no” to myself. The internal conversation started months ago and I ignored it for as long as I could. The myriad of emotions ran the gambit from disappointment to relief. I questioned myself and my motives for having a conference in the first place. The moment of truth came when I realized that by continuing to produce the conference, I was being a hypocrite to the foundation of Work Your Package by:
- Ignoring the little birdie
- Ignoring the loving advice from my personal board of directors
- Not managing my 168
- Not following through my goals
Why am I sharing this with you? I don’t want you to make the same mistake. Listen, I want to you to pursue your passion. I want you to continue to invest in your personal and professional development. But if it “cost” is too high, make the hard decision and hit the pause button. Remember, you didn’t have to find your passion. It’s been with you all this time. It’s not going to go away. You won’t lose it. Pausing, taking some time to reassess and regroup will not (I repeat…will NOT) be a detriment to your life’s work. I dare say that it’s a bonus. After you have taken time to shift your focus, you will open yourself to new opportunities to share your passion.
You are not your passion but the gifts produced from your passion cannot exist without you. Focus on you first.
Everyone likes to win. I haven’t met a person yet who said, “Oh, I’m fine with not winning.” Everyone wants success. Keep in mind that every one of has a different idea of success. A win for you might look like an absolute failure for someone else. Winning is awesome. Winning causes you to poke your chest out and say, “Hey, look at me! I did it!”.
But what about failure and suffering a setback? Crickets.
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
As miserable as it may feel, even more so if it is public, failure is an incredible teacher:
- It teaches you about yourself. Without failure, you have absolutely no idea how resilient you really are. Give yourself some credit. Take time to write down your “epic” failures and write down the lesson. Trust me, there is a lesson in every single one.
- It shows the true character of those around you. One of my sisterfriends told me, “Listen, I’m with you through the glitter and gutter.” Come hell or high water, she has been there for me. Knowing that I have that type of support bolsters me against disappointment.
One of my favorite authors is Paulo Coelho. He said, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Don’t be so afraid to fail that you kill your dreams in the process. Failure is okay and expected. My expectation of you is to keep moving forward. Why? Because I know you can and will.
Psst! Have you heard? I’m part of a stellar line up of 50 trainers for a webathon on September 22-24, to benefit Vickie Sokol Evans. Visit www.executivesecretary.com\webathon to register and for more information.
Let me just cut to the chase, this week I had writer’s block like nobody’s business. When I can’t focus it is usually because I have multiple priorities vying for attention and my plate runneth over. I shared this with a sister-friend and she said, “Love yourself enough to deprive yourself of the things which depreciate your personal greatness.” Excuse me, what?
My vision is pretty good, but I had to reread the text message several times. Now I could have dismissed it, as I have other advice that I’ve received over the years. Not because it wasn’t good advice, but because it was self-serving or came from an “eye witness”. Eye-witness advice usually starts off with “Well, I heard that if you….”, “I read somewhere that…” or “I feel that you should…” Insert eye roll to the heavens. Whereas “life witness” advice comes with no pretense and no introduction. Life witness advice has the uncanny ability to gut punch you and take your breath away. In a good way. Life witness advice is what the little birdie has been telling you and you REFUSE to listen. Life witness advice isn’t condescending or cruel. It feels like a hug and a hot meal at the end of long day.
Life witness advice comes from an authentic place. The person providing it didn’t read about it or hear about it…they lived it. And while you may be hurting when you receive the advice, because it comes from a place of love, it has the ability to heal a wound that has been open for too long. That type of authenticity requires the type of bravery that only life experience can give you.
Think about the advice you have given lately. Was it superficial or did you think about your life experience in order to give life witness advice? Have the courage to be authentic. You never know who you might impact.
An author and radio personality, Earl Nightingale said, “We become what we think about.” Take a minute a to think about that. When you have pleasant thoughts, typically additional positive and optimistic thoughts follow. Conversely, when you are pessimistic, you tend to have a negative outlook and before you know it, you are stuck in the muck of negativity. InspireYourPeople.com came up with the top 11 thoughts that can get in the way of having a positive outlook and should eliminate from your day:
1. Defeatist (accepting, expecting, or being resigned to defeat)
2. Cynical (contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives)
3. Vindictive (seeking revenge)
4. Blame/Fault (who cares?? what are we going to do now?)
5. Wishful (do what you can to influence the project/situation/deal and keep moving)
6. Self-pity (get over yourself … no excuses … no drama…no complaints…)
7. Worrisome (it won’t help, costs time, and can drag you down)
8. Jealous (want it? earn it)
9. Pre-argumentative (the imaginary argument you have to prepare yourself for the argument that may NEVER happen)
10. Post-argumentative (the imaginary argument you have where you’re quicker than you were in the actual argument)
11. Procrastination (if you’re going to procrastinate, it makes sense to do something fun instead of thinking about how bad it is that you’re procrastinating)
The article goes on the say that eliminating wasteful thoughts might be impossible to avoid but it is completely possible to minimize them and their impact. Here are three ways to do just that:
• Recognize the thoughts when they come up.
• Remind yourself negative thoughts are a costly distraction.
• Redirect your thinking (and/or doing) to something positive.
Challenge yourself to think positive. I’m not saying that life is all peaches and cream but you can control how you respond to the inevitable disappointments of life.
When we face uncertainty, we often try to convince ourselves that we should be confident in our abilities to overcome any obstacle. The problem is depending on the obstacle, your confidence level can take a beating and it can take days, weeks or in the worse case, years to recover. Think about the last time you tried something and failed. How long did it take you to try again? Have you tried again? Courage is something that is deeply rooted in your heart. Courage allows you to have difficult conversations. Courage allows you to stand in your truth. Courage opens the door for you to pursue your passion and try something new. Courage is the pillar of which constant confidence is built. Being brave isn’t the absence of fear, it’s having the courage to do “it” anyway.
One of my favorite quotes by Aristotle is, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” I found this quote years ago and made it part of my email signature so that I could see it on a regular basis. It resonates with me because I have a bad habit of wanting things to be perfect.
The Perfectionism Trap is an ugly thing and can be a downward spiral. It can cause you to procrastinate and remain stuck in one place. But here’s the rub, you can’t be successful if you don’t try and you don’t try if you are worried about being be perfect. It also fosters negative self-talk and unnecessary self-doubt.The quest for perfection diminishes the opportunity to have joy in the acting of “doing”. Don’t let the trap of perfectionism keep you from an opportunity to do something in a different way. It’s that difference that will lead to growth and new ideas which then fosters your creativity and pushes you forward to trying something new beyond your comfort zone.
I’m super excited about the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference! This purposely intimate conference was designed to create a space where attendees could have meaningful and lasting connections with subject matter experts.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing thoughts from the speakers so that you can get to know them better.
Visit www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com for more information.