One of my favorite authors is Brene Brown (Elizabeth Gilbert is a close second). Maybe it’s because we’re both from Texas and share a similar dust-yourself-off-and-pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of thinking. Maybe it’s because she’s brought shame out of the closet, shored it up with courage, and has helped legitimize the struggle for empowerment that so many people face. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because her fight with vulnerability mirrors my own.
Over the past four years of blogging, I’ve learned a few things about myself. I’ve learned that it’s not hard to ‘go deep’ with an anonymous audience, though it’s immensely difficult to be ‘seen’. It’s not hard to authentically connect with strangers, though I’m often challenged to be ‘known’. It’s not hard to write, though impossibly painful to publish. Most surprising to myself, I’ve learned that it’s easier to be a perfectionist than to accept the vulnerability that comes with possible failure.
But what happens when we build our lives around playing it safe? What happens when we raise or lend our voice to others, yet bury our own in the process? What happens when we dare to allow ourselves to be ‘seen’ as we truly are, in an environment where pedigree, perfection and political correctness often trump the very things that make us real?
These are the questions that keep me up at night; the demons I wrestle with daily — daring, provoking and pushing me out of my fear and into the world. These are the unspoken questions in the untold stories of millions who are silenced by their fear, or the wisdom that is lost in the silence of one’s passing.
As I reflect on these truths; as opportunities and invitations to a deeper honesty leave me wrestling with my own fear, I’m curious to ask and know…
Do you ever struggle with the vulnerability of being truly ‘seen’? How do you work through the fear of being truly known? Have you ever withheld the gift of your own story? What is your own relationship with perfectionism and failure? How do you do vulnerability?
If character is at the heart of effective leadership, do you have enough of what it takes to lead yourself and others — with courage, discipline, commitment, fortitude, integrity, humility, accountability, insight, resiliency and faith?
Sometimes it is necessary to do less, in order to achieve more.
More of what matters most in this moment.
When we stretch ourselves too thin, we rob ourselves and others — of our best work, our best ideas, and our best energy.
When we try to do too much at once, we burn out instead of burning bright, achieving a mere fraction of what we might otherwise accomplish if we could direct and discipline our time and efforts to what’s truly essential — intentionally focused on those things that align with our highest purpose, immediate priorities, and core values.
How are you pruning back for purpose in your own life? How has doing less enabled you to achieve more?
Sometimes the better part of valor comes from saying less, not more; in letting some things rest, rather than continually unearthing and dredging up that which has already passed.
Sometimes the better part of valor comes from letting go, instead of digging in; of advancing forward, instead of allowing ourselves to remain stuck in those things we cannot change.
Sometimes the better part of valor comes from forgiveness, rather than judgment; from compassion, rather than criticism, no matter how difficult the truths revealed.
Over the course of a life time, we each will be tempered by our wounds, our losses, our heartaches; our disappointments, our grievances and our failures. In the midst of our grief, we each will be tempted, too — to say more, unearth, dredge up, dig in, remain stuck, judge and criticize.
But the sheer rawness of life and universal flaws of the human condition remind me that perhaps the better part of valor comes from remembering that mindset makes the (wo)man more than circumstances themselves, and that we each have a responsibility to pave a path forward — one filled with light, hope, love and trust; with compassion, integrity, gratitude and forgiveness; with the strength of heart and mind to overcome, courage push forward and resolve to build a better tomorrow.
What does the ‘better part of valor’ mean to you?
If confidence is at the heart of empowerment, how do we cultivate the confidence necessary to speak our voice and advance our dreams? How do we develop a core belief in ourselves that is not tied to expectations or outcomes, but to an inner strength, rooted in love and self-respect? How do we shift from a mindset of forever proving oneself to one of self-approval and acceptance?
We talk about ‘finding’ confidence, as if it is something elusive to be sought outside of ourselves, but perhaps confidence finds us in the daring to do and the willingness to be seen as we truly are.
What does confidence mean to you?