The First Time I Tapped into my Brilliance
Updated: Jul 5
I (Laura) remember it like it was yesterday. It was the moment I first tapped into my brilliance. Although I didn’t know it then.
I was 25. Super early in my career, and the lead Communicator for the Chief Technology Officer of a major fast-food brand (think of the first one that comes to mind). He was a very experienced executive, old enough to be my father, and had a passion for developing people. He knew, long before I did, that helping people grow and develop was key to their success and to keeping them around.
One year, his leadership team (of 8 or so) went for an offsite retreat in the middle of nowhere Utah. It was a team-building experience, filled with fresh mountain air, outdoor adventure and even a couple moose. We also completed the Leadership Circle 360 Profile – a comprehensive leadership assessment where the leader, her boss, direct reports and peers fill out a survey to identify strengths and opportunities for that leader. No big deal.
Far from it. Our coach and facilitator had each of us share our results aloud with the rest of the team, where he asked us, what I now know to be coaching questions, while everyone listened. I had to be in the "love seat" too. There were tears, denial, confusion, anger. Seasoned leaders peeled back layers and years of struggles and insecurities. You could feel the intensity in the room. I was stunned. And exhausted.
At the same time, I had never felt more alive. “You can get people to talk like this in a professional setting?” I remember thinking, having grown up with therapist parents, where this kind of depth was dinner table talk. I was amazed by the vulnerability, rawness, and honesty of the conversation, and how my team showed up so authentically. My heart overflowed with respect, admiration, and love for these individuals … we were connected now on a whole different level. I also felt a profound sense of “home,” like I belonged there. My entire being buzzed with electricity.
At the end of the offsite, I thanked our facilitator through tears, telling him how I felt such a strong pull to do this work, whatever this was. I didn’t know what it was called or what it would look like, and didn’t have years of refined skills yet to do it. But I was being called … that, I knew for certain.
I know now that I had glimpsed my brilliance. It took me over a decade to build the courage to name it and step into it.
Brilliance is not just what you do for work, or what you’re good at (strengths), or what you love to do (passion). It’s more than that. It’s what lights you up, makes you come alive. It’s what you stand for down to your core, what calls you, what you wake up for each day. It’s what guides your decisions and the fabric that weaves throughout your life. It’s what only you offer to the world, that nobody else can, because nobody else has the same, exact, beautifully unique combination of experiences and qualities that you do.
My brilliance is creating space for others to feel seen, held and acknowledged, to help them give voice to their struggles and their dreams, overcome the barriers that hold them back, and to transform in the process.
Yes, this is exactly what I get to do at Her Brilliance. And I’m grateful for Kellie because it was only through our combined brilliance that this dream could be realized.
Sometimes though, our brilliance is so innate to us or comes so naturally that we don't see it as a gift. It's just who we are, nothing special, we take it for granted. Sometimes, we may see its tiny flicker, but we doubt that it's worth our attention. Trust me, pay attention.
And sometimes, it's that our brilliance is so profound, that we are too afraid to go and live it.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
- Marianne Williamson
Utah sunset, 2007