I stood in the heart of my fire for the first time this past November at my company’s inaugural Authentic Brand & Marketing Retreat. No, I didn’t literally stand in a fire; but that’s what it felt like. Real authenticity!
As we gathered around the fire pit at my Retreat outside that beautiful Stone Cottage, we shared stories. But they weren’t the kind of stories with an agenda or front. They were the kind of stories with a message – but also, a remembering and reminder for us in telling them.
And perhaps that outcome was a path I began earlier in the day as I shared the story, for the first time more publicly, of being laid off. And while that was genuinely both uncomfortable and freeing for me to do, it’s safe to say, I had no idea where the rest of that path would take me later that night, as we gathered around the fire together. Just how bold it would get…
But before I tell you #MyBoldStory, I should give you a bit of context. You see, for the first five years of my business – heck, most of my career – I’d do something BIG (national speaking opportunities, awards & sponsorships) and then I’d get small again. In & out of the proverbial turtle shell if you will – perhaps you can imagine…or even relate? Each of these BIG moments or experiences was rewarding and equally joyful and motivating to me – both professionally and personally. Each time served as both a message and reminder that I had this special light inside of me, and I needed to share it.
Now, here I was once again in a BIG moment, hosting the Retreat I’d dreamt about for two years!
As we sat around that fire pit with bright, fervent flames burning, I could feel a ‘pit’ in my stomach building, as I listened to the others share their stories so vulnerably and honestly. So, there it was by that bright, yet cozy fire that I spoke up and shared about my struggle with a condition called dermatillomania – also known as skin-picking.
I never thought that’d be a story I’d tell anyone but my husband and closest family. But in that moment, there by that fire, I knew it was a story I couldn’t NOT tell. I realized hiding my story and my condition was keeping me small (and afraid).
But I didn’t want to be small anymore. I didn’t want to hide my light for fear it’d be too bright or that it’d somehow hurt me…
I knew I could no longer hide or wish away that brightness because
that light and spark is IN me!
It’s in each of us!
We are the fire. And we must stand in the heart of it. Not on the sidelines to only feel its warmth and deny its strength or fear its true power and potential. But to truly stand in the heart of your fire and align with your authentic self, we must acknowledge that, by its very nature, a fire can burn you. And the things we feel will ‘burn’ us or make us uncomfortable are the things we feel are not our ‘best’ selves. They’re what makes us feel lesser than, broken or ‘other.’
Yet authenticity isn’t just about our best (bright and warm) parts; it’s also our lesser parts, the ones we have or are still piecing together. It’s the journey only we have taken and likely every reason WHY (or HOW) we do WHAT we do today.
But there’s an interesting thing that happens when you choose to stand in your fire; you bring out the heart of it. You show up and share authentically again and again. And in doing so, you free yourself, while inspiring others to do the same. You attract your Right Someones™ – the ones who can see and appreciate ALL that you (and only you) have to offer.
This authentic you – ALL of YOU – is your strength and greatest differentiator!
Coming out of the Retreat, I shared my condition more broadly on social media (and of course, here too) and I donated to the Picking Me Foundation. But I also felt called to launch “Authentic Conversations,” a monthly, one-on-one series of live-streamed interviews with entrepreneurs. The focus of each episode is to highlight and humanize the beautiful best (and less), the BIG and small, in all of us; and to share how aligning with your true authenticity is the key to ignite you and your business. Tune-in for our first episode this month as we discover the authenticity at the heart of every entrepreneur!