After months of hard work my speaker showreel was completed last week thanks to the vision of the talented Santiago Pilgrim. As I looked at my earlier showreels I cringed because I wasn’t reflecting my true authentic self. I was trying to be a version of what I thought a professional speaker should be. Somewhere along the way I realised that I had lost who I was inside. I have never felt the need to conform. The most important value in life is to be true to myself – yet my previous showreels were scripted and robotic. Sometimes you have to veer off the path and get a little bit lost to appreciate why you are on your chosen path. Somehow I had got so caught up in the marketing of ‘me’ that I had lost ‘me’ in the cacophony of content.
With the many roles and responsibilities we each have it can be easy to forget who we are at a deep identity level. You are so much more than your name. You are so much more than your job, a parent, a spouse. You are a magnificent human being who has something unique to offer this world. No one else can do ‘you’ like you can. No one else can have your impact – an impact that leaves echoes of your legacy everywhere you go.
Parental and societal conditioning often leads us up the garden path of masks we think we should wear because we have been told to comply, conform and become the image of another’s expectation. It’s exhausting to be anything other than you. Any pretence to be someone who is a shady replica of you creates a dissonance that just adds a crappy vibe to everything we try to accomplish.
When I was growing up I believed that being myself was boring and uninspiring. I worked hard to adorn myself with a colourful personality that was built in someone else’s name. This ‘fake’ me failed to connect deeply with others and actually turned people off. I became a show off, a clown, a diva, who thought nothing of varnishing the shallow substance of my behaviour.
I remember when I got married in the early 1990s and I morphed into a version of who I thought my husband would desire. Unsurprisingly my marriage didn’t last long and I was left smarting over the realisation that he had fallen in love with someone who was definitely not me!
Have you discovered that it becomes easier to be true to who you really are inside as you get a bit older? You realise that the veneer of falsehood cracks quickly under the slightest pressure and strangely the people who become close and important friends actually like the real you.
When our self worth takes a bit of a bashing we can either create a version of ourselves that we believe to be more palatable or we can start to love and accept ourselves for every aspect of ourselves. Authenticity strikes a chord within the hearts and minds of others. When you are being you and you love what you do, you shine.
In my quest to understand charisma which I have studied for over twenty five years I discovered that you can’t teach it by teaching behaviours that you perceive to be charismatic. If those behaviours are out of alignment with the essence of who you truly are inside then you’ll come across as fake and inauthentic and you will block your own innate charisma. When you are yourself then you are at your most powerful. Yet over the years we have learned to erect wall after wall to protect ourselves from further pain. At some point we realise that we have forgotten who we are and are operating from our external wall rather than from our core authentic self.
I believe that the only way to reclaim your unique blend of authenticity is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. When you are prepared to go through life without walls, exposing yourself to the potential for further pain you show up as ‘you’. Walls only block your essence from shining. Walls block intimacy in relationships. Walls block open and honest communication in the workplace. Walls are held in place with energy. When all your energy is focused on acting as the cement that holds the bricks of falsehood around you, then you forget who you are. When you are prepared to show your own vulnerability, your energy is released and your authentic self can skip off into the sunset feeling strong, empowered and revivified.
As I look at my latest showreel I can see my vulnerability and the risks I am taking as I share who I truly am inside. Of course I will be judged, it’s human nature. Of course there will be people who reject my approach and reject my style. But it is my style, my approach and my essence so I intend to hold on tightly to the woman I really am. Because in doing so I am opening up to the adventure of living life on my terms, in my way.
Who are you? Have you met yourself recently?