Fearlessly Authentic

Who would you be if you weren’t afraid of being judged? I love that question. It points to what is a very real struggle for many of us who, over the years, have developed different parts of ourselves to fit into different parts of our lives.

Recently I was listening to a call where a coach I don’t know was talking about her deep desire to integrate her two identities. Her one identity is the professional coach who helps Silicon Valley execs grow their teams and develop their leadership skills. Her other identity is a highly creative free-spirited woman who runs around at Burning Man in a corset and tutu, pole dances, and gives talks on the law of attraction.

She was struggling with her fears about people from either world finding out about her other identity and judging her for it. The business world wouldn’t take her seriously if they knew what she does in her free time. And her alternative friends would think she was crazy for working in Silicon Valley.

[Side note: some of you who are familiar with bay area culture are probably wondering what the problem is there, because you know there are actually a ton of people from Silicon Valley who go to Burning Man. And just as many Burning Man regulars who have “normal” corporate jobs. But that’s not the point, of course. Regardless of what the reality of any situation is, the stories we create in our minds are the powerful ones that can really hold us back. THOSE stories are the ones I want to encourage all of us to move past.]

How many identities do you have? Do you hide parts of yourself for fear of being judged? Have you created elaborate facades that you put up while interacting with certain groups? We all do it to an extent I think. While I’d love it if we could all be 100% ourselves all the time, I believe that sometimes it IS actually helpful to be able to tone things up or down, given the situation.

At the end of the day, I’m not arguing that being a slightly different version of yourself in certain situations is inherently bad or good. Things are rarely inherently good or bad. They just.. are. We are the ones who assign a value to them in our minds, usually due to our conditioning and deeply ingrained beliefs.

Really, the question is whether it’s helpful, effective, or healthy in any given circumstance. Should that coach show up to work at a big corporate gig wearing her Burning Man gear? Probably not. But should she have to hide either or both of her identities and live in fear of judgment? I say no.

I think it’s more a matter of learning how to honor the different, beautiful, unique parts of ourselves fully, to mindfully choose how to show up when, and to take full responsibility for our impact every time.

I often wonder who the fullest expression of me is. She’s constantly evolving of course, but as of right now, here is who I am when I’m completely owning my true self, and not worried what anyone will think:
– I dare to speak up, have strong opinions, and stand my ground
– I am brave, vulnerable, and courageously show all of my real raw self to the people I trust
– I don’t ask for or seek permission from others, I simply trust my own judgment
– I freely show my quirky, goofy side, laugh easily, hug everyone, and smile often
– I approach strangers easily, embrace awkwardness, and create warm connections
– I embrace my woo woo spiritual side in my business just as much as my practical side

What about you? Who would you be if you were fearlessly authentic? If you were sure you would not be judged, OR were sure you wouldn’t care? What is the fullest expression of you?

From awareness to awesomeness

How well do you know yourself? Do you accept and acknowledge your own strengths and accomplishments? Do you recognize your bad habits?

When you’re thinking or doing something that holds you back or stops you from moving forward, are you conscious of it in the moment?

Awareness is the first step. 

If you’re not aware of the behavior that isn’t serving you in the first place, how could you possibly work on changing it?

But, let’s assume you are aware. Let’s assume you’re painfully aware of your thoughts and behaviors, and you recognize that some of them are NOT helpful. You’re being honest with yourself and can admit that certain tendencies you have are actually sabotaging you in a big way.

What do you do with that awareness, then? How do you use it in a productive way? Here’s a strategy I like.

Name it
As you become more conscious of your default behavior (the conditioning and programming you grew up with or have internalized over the years), get in the habit of acknowledging it. Tell a friend or coach, write it in a journal, or say it out loud. Naming it brings it into the light and lets you take a closer look.

Own it
Instead of blaming something or someone external (your family! the church! the media!), simply accept that it’s there. Bemoaning a past you can’t change isn’t helpful. Whining about its existence isn’t helpful. Taking responsibility for it IS. Regardless of where it came from, it’s showing up. Just accept that it’s here now.

Evaluate it
Next, instead of judging it (which is not helpful), get curious. Is this belief or behavior productive? Is it limiting you? Be honest. If it’s not helpful, why keep it around? Consider that it might be time to let it go.

Commit
Once you’ve determined that a behavior is not serving you, make a powerful decision. Take a stand. Declare to yourself (and someone else if you want the accountability) that you are going to start undoing that particular bit of programming.

Practice
After that, it’s straight forward. Practice. As soon as you catch yourself falling into old patterns, pause and deliberately choose something else. You are rewiring your brain and it takes time. You’ll most likely fail, repeatedly. Don’t beat yourself up for it though, just get back on your horse and keep going.

As you learn to harness your awareness, and get better at choosing powerfully, you’ll start to show up in a different way. That’s where things get really fun. That’s where you get to start creating your own reality.

You go from awareness to awesomeness when you realize that you get to sit in the driver’s seat of your own journey and you can quite literally create your own reality, by intentionally choosing how to be and what to do, rather than simply reacting to external stimuli according to whatever your default programming is. In every moment, you have a choice.

Cultivating a sense of self awareness and harnessing it to mindfully create your life is an integral part of experiencing real freedom, of living your truth, and of connecting to your most authentic and powerful self.

So, tune in. Observe yourself and your own behaviors with curiosity. Then use that awareness, as the powerful tool that it can be, and go create the life you want.

That is awesomeness.

How to (Finally) Stop Beating Yourself Up

Do you find yourself beating yourself up when you fail? When you were good, but not great? When you are progressing, but not fast enough?

This is a recurring theme among some of my clients – those with perfectionist tendencies in particular. If you are someone with big dreams and high expectations for yourself, I bet you know what I’m talking about. Beating yourself up is challenging habit to let go of, to say the least.

Some of us hold ourselves to impossible standards and then tear ourselves apart when we fail. This focus on our inadequacies also prevents us from celebrating our strengths and accomplishments. Maybe we understand, at least intellectually, that it’s not serving us. But how do we actually break the cycle?

Edward Norton punching himself in the face

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years. This is not a specific 10-step process, per se. It’s more of a collection of strategies in the approximate order I would use them. Feel free to use any or all of them in whatever order works for you.

HOW TO (FINALLY) STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP

1. Take responsibility
If you made a mistake, admit it. If you made a mess, clean it up. Whatever the problem is, own up to it. It feels great and it’s the right thing to do. Once you’ve taken responsibility, there is no need to dwell on it.

2. Let it go
Admit that, quite frankly, beating yourself up is a huge waste of time. It doesn’t actually accomplish anything for anyone. Kind of like holding a grudge against someone else. Remember that you always have a choice and decide to let it go and move on.

3. Feel your emotions
In order to move on, I believe we must go through our emotions, as opposed going around them (by ignoring or denying them), which may lead to dealing with the uncomfortable emotion in an unhealthy or unnecessary way. Find a healthy way to express your frustration / anger / disappointment to get it out of your system.

4. Forgive yourself
There is incredible power in forgiveness. There is also plenty of research that backs up the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of forgiveness. Make a conscious choice to forgive yourself (and others). It’s good for you.

5. Choose self-love and self-acceptance
Know that you are intrinsically valuable. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone to be worthy. You simply are. So, decide to love and accept yourself in spite of your failures and imperfections. Or, take it a step further and decide to love and accept yourself because of your failures and imperfections. They are part of what make you unique.

6. Practice self-compassion
Many of us are capable of showing incredible compassion for others, yet struggle to show that same compassion for ourselves. Try this. Remember a time that you felt compassion for someone else. Recreate the emotional state you were in. Imagine it vividly. While feeling this way, you certainly wouldn’t beat them up, would you? No. You would treat them with the love and respect they deserve. You’d be warm, gentle, and understanding. Now, take those same emotions and direct them at yourself.

7. Shift your perspective
Realize that every “failure” is actually an opportunity. Every time you fall, get back up, and dust yourself off, you gain something – like strength, experience, or wisdom. As they often say in yoga, “every time you fall you’re simply learning how not to fall.”

8. Embrace failure
Once you’ve shifted your perspective, you can go one step further and actually embrace failure. Celebrate the chance to grow! If you’ve ever taken an improv class, you may have learned the technique of following up a failure by throwing your arms in the air and yelling “TADA!” (If you’ve never taken an improv class, I highly recommend it.)

9. Have a sense of humor
Take your dreams seriously, by all means, but know that it’s really about the journey. The journey will always be full of surprises, challenges, and “learning opportunities”. Cultivate the ability to laugh at yourself so that you can recover quickly from those hiccups and bounce back with enthusiasm. Plus, you’ll be a lot more fun to be around.

10. Be patient
Changing old patterns takes time. It’s not a light switch that you can switch on and off. It’s more like a dimmer switch. Every time you bring your awareness to the old unconscious behavior (beating yourself up) and decide to replace it with something else (self-compassion) you are rewiring your brain. It takes time.

The Possing Manifesto

I present to you: The Possing Manifesto.

You always have a choice.

Take radical responsibility for every part of your life.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Respect their journey and live yours.

Be present. Be grateful. See the beauty all around you.

Don’t fear your emotions, feel them.

You are a feisty beast. Run wild and be free.

Every day is an adventure. Play hard.

There is nothing more badass than being who you are. Own it.

Stand tall, make good eye contact, and speak up. Your voice matters.

Be courageous. Fail gloriously. Let go of looking good and getting it right.

Clarity and self-awareness are key. Know who you are and what you want.

Prioritize self-care. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Live on purpose. Seek aliveness.

Create more than you consume.

Invest in the process. Let go of the outcome.

Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Speak your truth.

Ask for help when you need it.

Replace judgment with curiosity. Replace jealousy with inspiration.

Respond intentionally, instead of reacting defensively.

Take bold action. Action creates energy. You can course correct later.

Never assume. Just ask. Keep it simple.

Come from a place of love, compassion, and respect. Always.

Be authentic, vulnerable, and real. Connect genuinely.

Do meaningful work. Work hard but hack life and be smart.

Be a resource. Be helpful. Be kind. Be generous.

You CAN change the world. Go do it.

I wrote this manifesto for The Twenty-One Day Momentum Challenge

You Always Have a Choice

Image

You have a choice. In every moment. You get to choose how to be, how to show up, and what kind of human you want to be right now.

When you see, hear, or experience something you don’t like you have a choice.

You can do nothing and complain about it later. You can speak up, right then and there. You can try to change it. You can try to understand it. You can forget about it and move on. Your choices are endless. But the choice you make is yours. And it’s part of what you are creating for yourself (and for the rest of us.)

Some of your choices will be very important. Life changing, even. Some of the choices you make will seem inconsequential. Meaningless, perhaps, in the bigger picture. But, regardless of the gravity of the choice at hand… make it intentional. Don’t choose out of habit or fear. That is simply reacting to life. That is living on autopilot.

Instead, respond to life. Choose how to be. How to show up. How to live.

You can’t always control what is happening to you or what is happening around you, but you can choose how to respond, how to think about it, how to talk about it, or what to do with the information.

You always have a choice.

Your choice may impact the people around you. Your choice might make someone’s day. Or ruin it. Your choice might set you up for success in the future. Or failure. Your choice matters and you matter. It’s important. It’s who you are.

Own that. Respect that.

I challenge you to really know and remember that you always have a choice and to take radical responsibility for the impact of every single one.