Living Outside the Lines

402850_377080592389199_2036867769_nOver the past few weeks and months, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with people living and leading outside of the lines that have traditionally defined my world.  Proverbial box-rebels, reformists and new dreamers alike, I’ve met artists, inventors and educators; philanthropists, social innovators, and serial entrepreneurs.

Despite their outward differences, they share a common energy…an invisible, golden thread that seems to bind them all to one another.

They are authentic. Real. Grounded.

They are passionate, driven, and committed.

They also believe that their voice and their ‘craft’, in whatever form(s) it takes, is the most authentic, creative expression of their selves and the gifts they have to offer the world.  They are society’s disrupters – the collective energy and inspiration of TEDx personified – determined to make their mark on the world.

From that place they live.  They lead.  They serve.  They inspire.

For far too long, many of us have tried to fit ourselves into the lines and boxes of convention, without regard for consequence.  We have been square pegs living in round holes, building our identity around external expectations and definitions, rather that the essence of who we really are and the gifts we have to share.

We seek to ‘fit in’ because it is easier than being left out; and in our fear and discomfort with uncertainty, we seek refuge in the familiar, however outworn or outdated that model might be.

Some say they can’t change.  Some say it’s too late.  Some say it’s too hard.

I say we become what we believe is possible.

I say that our dreams represent the most sacred voice of our heart and soul.

I say that our capacity to serve and lead others, grows in proportion to our degree of self-awareness and the courage to live our lives out loud.

Start small.

Tune in.

Listen well.

Erase a line.  Adjust your lens.  Reframe.


You be you, and watch the magic unfurl.

I‘m curious:  Do you live your life out loud, or do you find yourself burying your essence and dreams to fit in to the expectations of others?  How can you find ways to live authentically within the current framework of your life?  What small steps can you take today to begin to give life to your own voice?  

9 thoughts on “Living Outside the Lines

  1. In my family we try to live in ways that embrace our talents. While this hasn’t always translated into dream jobs, and we still get overwhelmed, it helps us be us. We also acknowledged a long time ago that we just don’t always think like everyone else, and that’s okay.


    1. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation. Validation, acceptance, encouragement and respect are indeed such key ingredients to being able to live in a fully authentic way, regardless of whether that translates into a ‘dream’ job or not. Kudos to you for encouraging this within your own family.


  2. Have you seen the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? It’s a great film about living authentically within the circumstances you find yourself in. Accepting (and even embracing) what you have, even if it’s not what you would have asked for. Very inspirational.


    1. I’ve seen the trailers, but not the movie. Must add that to my list!

      You make an important point about living authentically within the circumstances you find yourself in. I was recently talking with a professional colleague of mine who said to me, “Sharon, we can’t all do what you’re proposing. Some of us simply can’t live our lives from the inside out.” I pointed out that authenticity does not have to mean overthrowing your life as you know it. Instead, we can take baby steps. Perhaps, for example, we can begin to tune into and find constructive outlets for our gifts and talents, if not in our professional work, than in our hobbies.

      For me, one of the greatest ‘gifts’ of my unforeseen transition, has been rediscovering my creativity and learning to step out of my comfort zone, shedding my extreme attachment to external definitions of ‘success’ in the process. In doing so, I have not only reignited some of my own passions, but have connected with many wonderful like-minded people in the process.


    1. Thanks, Bruce! Along these same lines, I believe that our capacity to influence change begins with authentic connection to others. Until we truly know (and accept) ourselves, our ability to authentically connect and build trust with others is limited, at best. As you know from your own agency’s work, this is especially true when working in the international/multicultural arena.


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