I started hiding when I was five years old and in my first school play.
My part was a good one – a lady in waiting stationed right next to the Queen’s throne. Before the play opened, each of us was introduced one by one in front of the velvet curtains.
So there I was, my little innocent five-year-old self, in front of these big velvet curtains, and then my older brother got his friends to boo.
I froze, I wanted to hide and disappear.
The play started. I inched my way behind the queen’s throne and started to crouch so I wouldn’t be seen. I wanted to run and hide and not stand up and face the audience.
This story has been flashing through my mind in the last five years as I’ve become my own brand – promoting my own work instead of being a PR maven behind a Fortune 500 technology companies.
Each time I go for a certification or I’m “on stage” and being evaluated for my work, this experience is triggered and the vision of my shy five-year-old self appears. I squirm in my seat, I want to run and hide but I don’t.
I hold her in my thoughts with such compassion. I mother her. I tell her that everything is going to be fine and then I go for it.
Here’s the real deal: you have to be willing to sit with this discomfort, stop hiding and practice courage. Because if it’s not comfortable there is something there for you to work on.
Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, and a presenter of one of the most popular Ted Talks – Listening to Shame – says that shame is the fear of ridicule and belittling used to manage people or keep people in line. Brown says the counter approach to scarcity and never feeling like you are enough is what she calls Wholeheartedness, which at its core is vulnerability and worthiness. When each of us can face uncertainty, exposure and any emotional risk and believe that you are enough.
Courage starts by allowing yourself to be seen and by showing up.
If you want to get your art out there, speak from the stage, make a video for your business, marketing yourself or your product, you have to first recognize your vulnerability then learn to work with it.
Take small steps and practice courage. This is how you expand your comfort zone. Tiny, consistent action will take you to your dreams. Fear + action = Courage.
Brene’s book is outstanding and I highly recommend you read it. Her personal vulnerability prayer is this: “Give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”
You can ask yourself, are you willing to do the thing you most fear even if you fail? When you are 90 years old and sitting in your rocker on your front porch, will you be proud of yourself for being courageous?
As I get ready to send my book proposal to a publisher for feedback and review, I am practicing courage and being willing to suck at it. If I don’t share what I’ve learned about fear and adversity, who will be the one person that might have practiced courage and been willing to mine their adversity for their gold (the gift of what you learned) and fear, which could be your soul calling you to your true calling?
My book is tentatively titled, Souls Revolution: How to Use Fear and Adversity to Live a Remarkable Life. I am willing to be vulnerable with my own personal stories of how I have overcome fear and adversity. I am willing to suck at it.
I am practicing courage. I am holding my little five-year-old shy inner child in my lap and my adult self is ready to publish my book and start speaking on the stage again. This time I am not going to hide.
What one thing are you practicing courage to do in your life? I would LOVE to hear from you in the comments below. Sharing your vulnerability is the first step.