When I was in high school I went through a weird phase of wearing 10 different colors on my nails – a different color for every finger.

I wore blue and white plastic shoes that did not match my green and yellow Catholic school uniform.

And, I wore bright red lipstick and dressed in all black on the weekends. (Oh, the photos that I hope never make it to the internet!)

While today I teach “the world is made for those who stand out, not those who fit in” this is not what I mean.

Back then, my emphasis on “standing out” had nothing to do with who I was being, and everything to do with what I was wearing.

This is contrary to what I teach today, as pushing boundaries and being visible don’t create unlimited opportunities unless it is in full alignment with who you really are. 

Sometimes the loudest voice cannot be heard.

It’s “loud,” and yet not heard because it isn’t broadcasting the right message.

Sometimes the loudest voice cannot be heard because it’s not taking to the right people.

When the message is aligned and the right people are waiting for it, being heard is dependent on positioning.

Like standing out and being heard, another nuanced duality of leadership presence requires the art of positioning.

Most people want to believe they are different and unique.

They want to believe there is something special about who they are.

Yet, this is a both/and proposition because…

…here’s the thing – we are all the same.

We share the same fears, doubts, and pains.

We cry when a loved one is hurting and we are disappointed when our dreams don’t come true.

We want to be loved, valued, and appreciated for who we are, not solely for what we do.

We seek out mentors and role models with shared commonalities.

And we have the same questions — questions my clients often feel more comfortable discussing with other women.

Questions like:

  • Why do I doubt this is possible?
  • How did you do ‘that’ with all you have on your plate right now?
  • How did you figure out how to move forward without all of the answers?

Relating human to human, we want to be in community, learning from people like us.

So, as leaders, we need to both be relatable with human fears and frailties, and also stand out with our unique gifts and talents.

To be a leader worth following, you need to lead from the front – and from within.


The Upside Challenge of the week is to examine your positioning as a leader. Are you showing up aligned with your true self? Are you showing up to lead with your expertise and unique brilliance? And, are you showing up as a relatable part of your community? Pick one area to develop a bit more this week. Practice it in conversation or writing.

The world needs you and your brilliance.

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