If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s this: One of the bravest and most important things you can do to be successful in your business and hone your personal leadership style is to own your story, and share it with the world.
Dropping your armor and revealing who you are isn’t easy—but it’s necessary, especially if you are committed to living and leading in an authentic, powerful way.
Sharing our stories gives us the courage to dive headfirst into the truth of who we are, and to take ownership over our lives, our choices, and our unique purpose. More than anything, it lets us know that we are not alone. Our stories validate our core truth and connect us to other people in magical ways.
Sharing this truth sets the groundwork for personal and business relationships that are based in authenticity and acceptance. It ensures that we draw to us exactly the right friends, partners, mentors, team members, clients and customers. It helps us get to the heart of what we stand for and reconnects us to our intrinsic motivation.
As the founder of Women For One—an organization whose mission is to empower women from across the world to share most powerful, life-changing personal stories—I have enormous respect for people who choose to come out from behind closed doors and let other people see the world through their eyes.
In the last five years, I’ve worked with a global community of women who are courageously taking off their masks and baring their hearts and souls to the world. Along the way, I’ve picked up three essential tips for women leaders who wish to tell their story in the most authentic, powerful way possible. I’d love to share them with you.
1. Dive into your shame and secrets.
Most of us have secrets that we’d much rather take to our graves than disclose to anyone else. For close to three decades, I kept one of the biggest secrets of my life: at the age of five, I was sexually abused by my father. It was such a devastating experience that I buried the memory until my early 30s.
Saving face and hiding an experience you’re ashamed of can help you feel safe and in control (at least for a little while), but by doing this, you end up losing more of who you are. You become disconnected from your truth. In fact, when you hide the parts of yourself that are too difficult to face, you also end up hiding the parts of you that are meant to shine brightly.
More often than not, the things we’ve hidden away out of shame or fear hold the keys to our freedom. Counteracting shame doesn't necessarily mean that you throw all caution to the wind and give other people the nitty-gritty details of your life, however.
All the same, the most powerful leaders are transparent about the experiences that shaped them, and they use these stories to illustrate their success and share the specifics of their breakthroughs with others. By being brave enough to go “where angels fear to tread,” and to drag our shadows into the light, we give ourselves and other people permission to do the same—and to heal in the process.
2. Be YOU.
The best way to share your story isn’t to cover it up with impersonal details or spreadsheets full of statistics that will drive home your point. The greatest gift you can give to your peers and the people your serve is your realness.
When you are open, honest, and vulnerable, you have the power to truly touch others.
Your vulnerability cannot be underestimated in its ability to inspire and mobilize people, move hearts, and change minds. When we offer others a genuine glimpse into how something in our lives affected us, we give them an experience that every single one of us craves: connection with the raw truth of another human being.
Think of the leaders who have deeply touched you. It’s more than likely that they are self-aware and genuine—that they are just as knowledgeable about their limitations as they are of their strengths. They are also consistent, meaning that they don’t put on a mask for the public and act differently in private. They embrace their mistakes as part of their wholeness. More often than not, they are willing to share themselves unabashedly, without covering up the details or glossing over them with the paintbrush of perfection.
“Perfect” is boring. But you in all your real, raw, messy, human glory? That’s the leader people are yearning to see.
3. Remember that we’re all connected.
Above all else, there’s one big reason you’re telling your story. Our stories serve to remind us of one essential truth: we are all connected.
In sharing your story, think of the people who have gone through the same thing and will be affected by your account. Also stop to consider those who have little to no context for what you’ve been through, but who are still capable of being touched and changed by it.
When we share our specific personal stories with other people, we assist in revealing the beautiful diversity of the human experience. We contribute to the gorgeous, intricate tapestry of history (and herstory!). And as leaders, we do one of the most important things we possibly can—we create and facilitate more connection, dialogue and community from our simple but profound act of self-disclosure.
If you’re ready to dive into the next chapter of your life and to share your story, you might be interested in Women For One’s debut course, Truthteller: A 5-Week Course for Boldly Sharing Your Story. By the end of the course, you will have a brand-new take on the stories that have defined you—and you will be ready to embrace your wholeness, harness your unique voice and leadership style, and show up in your own life in a way that is authentically you. Learn more about Women For One and the Truthteller course HERE.