Dare to Be You

Blog 2021-02-16 photo

Have you ever stuck your neck out and then regretted doing so because it didn’t go as expected? Did you then hesitate the next chance you had to share your beliefs, ideas, and/or convictions? If so, you may have made yourself smaller, choosing to show less of the real you. Less you means less impact. While it may serve you in the short term by making you feel less wrong, less different, or less bothersome to others in the moment, it doesn’t help you be your true self.

We are self-protective beings, dating back to the origins of the first human. There are good reasons to be on guard occasionally…it can keep us from becoming ill, being exposed to harsh elements, and the like. However, when we protect ourselves from other people simply because they don’t see eye-to-eye with us, we lose the chance to not only be ourselves, but also to experience and celebrate our own and others’ differences. We jeopardize showing up as authentic and getting to see others be real by setting a false tone for our interactions with them.

I have lived with the fear of showing my true self, believing I may be “too much” for others. I have been afraid to take risks – even calculated ones – that would have benefitted me (without harming others). I have trapped myself in an unproductive ‘pleasing box’ giving greater attention to what others expected of me. It made no sense, and yet I found myself in that cycle over and over early in my career.

Then one day in 2007, despite my vigorous physical size, I had become this ‘tiny’ person; so much so that my colleagues caringly shared that I had become a walking suit, void of my “true colors” as they put it. BAM! POW! It hit me like a ton of bricks. This is not what I wanted for myself.

I started to make shifts happen. I began caring less about what I thought others expected, and instead I sought to learn more about the people with whom I interacted and their perspectives. I chose to stop protecting my ego and focused more on what I expected for myself. This has served me immensely as a leader in my career and in my life – it has drawn more people to me than I could have fathomed. As it turns out, I love wearing my own skin and stretching to new heights of authenticity has become my daily quest. I urge you to try it, for the sake of making an impact in your world.

This Week: Where have you stopped short of being you? Why, and what’s at risk? Grab a pen and paper (or smartphone notepad) and start jotting down reasons you may be shrinking to fit your world. After you’ve exhausted all the reasons you can think of, write a new list of how you might show up more as yourself. Feel free to compare the two. Or, trash the first list and keep the second list easily accessible for the next few weeks. As you interact in your world, see how much more of you shows up. And remember to lean in with curiosity as you notice your impact.

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