entrepreneur

Easing into Vulnerable

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Being raw. Sharing your truth.
Connecting through your story.

Sounds fantastic, right?
And maybe a little terrifying?

I’m all about being open in storytelling. On the vulnerability scale, I’d give myself a good, solid 5. Honest, but pretty tidy and controlled.

On a retreat last week (with the inspiring Therese Skelly), we worked on visibility and what blocked us. Our task was to tell our raw story. The one we don’t want people to know. The one that is likely preventing us from really being seen because we are working so hard not to tell it.

I shared something I’ve only told a couple of friends and my husband, and managed to get through it in a weepy puddle. It felt good. Then I watched each of the others stand and tell her story. They were so beautiful. Unburdened from the old weight of not telling that story. So clear. So alive. So energized.

The next morning I woke up with what may have been the worst migraine of my life.

A mighty clamp-down after that spacious opening, perhaps? Made total sense to me.

As I lay there for many hours waiting for it to lessen, I felt for the clients I’ve encouraged to tell their most honest stories. It’s so important to do but it can be so damn hard.

How do we navigate this landscape of vulnerability?

Here’s what I came up with:

Vulnerability’s the thing, but it’s a delicate dance. While we are hard-wired to be tender and vulnerable—and to react compassionately when others are being this way, we’re also pretty hard-wired to protect ourselves at any cost.

Showing up truthfully is a good thing in this brave, new Brene Brown world we live in, but most of us didn’t grow up drawing attention to our flaws or insecurities. In fact, we worked over-time to appear like we had none of these:

Jugular. Achilles heel. Soft belly.

They were as well hidden as private parts in my early working days.

Years ago, I stumbled as I was walking past the Executive Director’s office where I worked. Actually, I face-planted on the carpet, throwing file folders and coffee everywhere. He made sure I was OK and that was that. Later that day, he was coming up the stairs as I was going down and I made some kind of half-ashamed/half-funny crack that he should watch out in case I tripped again.

He called me into my office and told me that the key to success was NEVER to draw attention to my errors, and NEVER to give someone the upper hand by admitting I’d made a mistake. Whew. Contrast that to my way, which had always been to bond with others by making self-deprecating comments that didn’t begin to cover up my sense of shame. Not exactly a recipe for wild career success—but a vague attempt at some level of vulnerability.

I was confused, yet I knew there had to be a way to tell the truth without putting myself down.

I thank God the days of shoulder pads and cover-your-ass business strategies are behind me. But that doesn’t mean this more-open world is super easy to figure out. I got a migraine after revealing my truth to just five people, after all.

I believe the world is a safe and kind place–much kinder and safer than I thought it to be 20 years ago. And I am all about sharing the truth as a  compelling and powerful way to connect. That doesn’t mean leaping into the marketplace showing only your soft belly, however.

Here are a few suggestions for easing into vulnerability:

  • Get very intimate with your story. Tell it “raw,” then tell it with the lesson learned or insight received.
  • Work through your emotions to get to the core and truth of the stories you share and why you share them.
  • Trust that vulnerability doesn’t mean you need to share every story  from every stage.
  • Look at the story through the lens of your ideal client and find the thread that reveals the unique essence of you and what you provide them.
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The Golden Thread session is a great way to explore
the raw version of your story so you can begin to craft it
into a powerful signature speech or website copy.

 

 “Wow, there is magic around you! This is super, super awesome. While reading [my Golden Thread] I experienced the curious combination of deep relief, open weeping, and laughter.  That is exactly it!”

—Dr. Heather Clark, www.myvibranthealth.com

Click here to learn more.

 

Freedom + Alchemy

Last week my husband and I moved. And I got a PhD in Magic.

 

For the past six years, we lived in a magical spot: a log cabin nestled in a cedar forest alongside a roaring creek. We had found the house in a “magical” way. Our mortgage person told us she’d done some “magic” to get us approved (back at the tip-top of the market). We had big magic dreams for all the retreats and gatherings we would hold on this land. We built a sweat lodge with friends. People described the house and its setting as… yeah, you get it.

 

Magic was a word that got bandied about a lot these past few years…

 

Fast forward to this past January. After a lot of stuff happened–from stepping into my business full-time to not being able to sell a piece of land or refinance, from a few expensive medical crises to two layoffs, we’d tapped out everything in order to keep our magic house afloat. Though we kept trying to make it work, it was slowly choking us.

 

And yet for all these years, I had kept believing that there would be some magic solution. That something amazing would happen.

 

After all, the signs pointed to that, right?

 

A piece of me stopped living in the real world and started living in this world that would begin when my ship came in, when the lottery paid out, when an unexpected inheritance landed on our doorstep. Magically.

 

Exhausting, constricting and unsustainable, you say? Yep.

 

So… in January we got real. We decided to sell the house and land.

 

Then, weirdly enough, it was like the magic did start to happen.

 

We created a vision of the people we wanted to buy the property, and two weeks after it went on the market, we had a full-price offer… from a family who seemed to have every quality on our list.

 

I mentioned (to just one person) our desire to find a small house or cottage where we didn’t have to sign a long lease… and she just happened to own such a cottage. And that’s where we are living now.

 

While packing, I found all kinds of stuff I thought was long-gone, including that little “Freedom” bottle in the photo. Someone gave it to me long before we bought the house. It was almost like I had tucked away my freedom all those years ago–and then found it again… just in time.

 

So, what does this have to do with anything? Well, for a while now I’ve thought about my work as a kind of alchemy. It’s about taking what you are and what you’ve done and where you’ve been–as leaden as it might feel–and turning it into your gold.

 

This alchemy transforms what is real about you, your shadow, your story–into something you work with, instead of hiding. And in doing so, you release the burden of hoping and praying that people hear about and like you. You give up the glued-together-popsicle-stick, fingers-crossed version of doing your business–and get REAL about what your foundation really is. You put an end to doomsday thoughts like, “If only I had a masters degree” or “If only I hadn’t married my first husband” and instead see how all the threads of your story and your life matter and have prepared you to be exactly who you are and serve the clients only you are meant to serve.

 

Then and only then, so much clearer and lighter, are you FREE to experience the real magic…  Putting your message out to the world. Doing the work you are meant to be doing. Experiencing freedom.

 

That’s alchemy. And it can’t begin until we put away all that old magical thinking.