For many women, the journey to embrace their brilliance is not a one-time deal. Finding, connecting (and reconnecting) to our unique gifts becomes our life’s work, as we try to tame the fears, doubts and insecurities that threaten this often-tenuous thread of self-belief.
In those moments when we become separated from what we know makes us shine - by the noise of expectations or overwhelm - we need a way to tap back into our sense of self. Each time we feel that connection waning, it takes self-awareness, courage, self-leadership and a strong network of support to deploy the tools, strategies and practices that help us get out of our own way, to live into our full potential.
Last week I (Kellie) delivered a live webinar for the University of Denver, Executive Education. It was filmed in a professional studio … lights, cameras and a hidden audience somewhere out beyond in the world wide web. It was an experience that pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone, a place where the belief in our brilliance can often be lost.
When the opportunity arose, I was initially flattered and excited. But it only took a second before a flood of doubts rushed in. Old narratives surfaced about being a terrible public speaker. Comparison syndrome reared its head as I questioned my credibility against the experienced academic faculty who have hosted previously. Who was I to stand among them on this virtual stage? What did I have to offer this unseen audience? I even looked in my diary hoping that I had a conflict that would allow me to gracefully decline the opportunity, rather than face my fear.
This spiral of self-doubt is all-too-familiar for most of us. So how do we break the cycle? For me it took an enormous amount of self-awareness to notice and quiet the inner chatter and to focus on what I did bring to the table. I knew my courage and self-belief would come from being grounded in my unique gifts. So, I brainstormed all of the things that I knew about the topic of coaching. I connected that to the things that are important to me and which I know I do well. Scribbling on the page, a picture started to emerge of how I could tap into my unique brilliance in this space. … my penchant for structure could be leveraged to craft 3 simple strategies that anyone could follow along with and my practitioner’s perspective could offer practical, actionable tips based on my personal experience as a coach. I didn’t need to recast myself in the mold of the academic presenters that have gone before me. I have my own strengths, my own point of view, my own value to offer.
Of course, it was not that simple. The following weeks as I designed and prepared for the webinar were a wild ride on the brilliance roller-coaster. There were moments of clarity and confidence in which my self-belief soared. There was a rocky dry-run that had me plummeting back down to earth, but which only served to bolster my resolve to continue working to conquer this fear and doubt. Courage, perseverance and support were needed in strong supply.
Given all my preparation, the webinar went off without a hitch and I was flying high, my brilliance on full display. Until I watched the recording back … in the company of my inner critic, who was narrating loudly the whole time (Sigh!). And so, the journey continues.