I was in front of a group of women my age, about to give them a presentation I’d prepared meticulously. I’d mapped it out, timed it out, and practiced. I knew it cold. But when I got up in front of them, all I could think of was whether they’d take me seriously. I had this constant inner talk going on for at least a week before the presentation. I dressed in a way that I thought would do it – not the way I usually dress; I chose topics I thought would tweak their interest – not topics that tweaked mine. And the inevitable happened: they, almost to a woman, looked like they were having a hard time staying awake; and left right after, without asking a single question. I was mortified.
I had to go through that a few more times until I was worn out and discouraged enough to simply give up and be myself, regardless of the result. After all – how much worse could being myself be? And, yes, the next time I spoke, I spoke on a topic that interested me, in a way that was natural to me, wearing what I liked, in front of a group of people I wanted to be with. That time, the listeners not only took me seriously, but really got what I was saying, using it in their own lives in a way it was always meant to be used.
I listened to a live Q&A with Marie Forleo today that brought that home. Someone called in and asked her to suggest a baby step they could take that would help them succeed in holding their own authenticity. I’ve included her remarks, along with my own, as ways of learning to notice what you’re doing and turning it into a win:
- Discover your mask. When you’re in front of an audience, notice when you’re trying to be someone else. That’s all. Becoming aware of what you’re doing is always the first step to change. Notice who you’re trying to be – someone in the audience; someone you suppose your audience admires? What exactly are you “trying on”, and why? This, in the world of shamanism, is called a mask. Masks can be powerful tools, as long as they’re used honestly without any intent to manipulate. But when we’re hiding behind a mask, we always have an agenda.
- Learn who and how you are naturally. It’s amazing but true that most of us have to actually learn this. We knew it instinctively when we were kids, and have since hidden it in an effort to belong. The truth is that who we are naturally is our greatest strength. It’s the one thing that helps us stand out and be noticed. And being noticed by the people who matter – those people who you want to be with – is the winning ticket.
It sounds simple, and isn’t: my whole work is about helping people discover that about themselves. But it is the key – the secret – to winning in life.
Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions. In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.
This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.
Being Authentically Myself at Work – Suzette Robotham
I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.― Muhammad Ali
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org