Upside Leaders Have the Courage to be Their True Selves

“Will you be bringing a PowerPoint presentation?” asked the meeting planner.

My response was, “Only if you require one.”

I’ve never used them at my annual Design Your Destiny Live event, and I’m not a fan of using them when delivering a keynote or presentation.

My spine still shudders remembering instructors at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center who clicked through 79 slides without every making eye contact with anyone in the classroom.

Next slide. Clickity-click.

Next slide. Clickity-click.

I’d often zone out feeling as if I had lost a piece of my life during that hour-long (or more) module.

Looking back, I recognize it was all about the hidden message conveyed without ever saying a word.

What was on the slides was not as important as how the message was being delivered.

The instructor’s attitude, energy, and tone screamed of complacency.

Your beingness alone tells a story. You are both the messenger and the message.

The journey you’re on defines who you are, what is most important to you, and how far you’ve come.

The tales of suffering and joy or tragedy and triumph bring about potential connection to others. They reveal our humanity. When shared at the right time and in the right context, they can be powerful gateways.

In my office, you’ll find dozens and dozens of pieces of pottery, books, photos, and trinkets lined on top of cabinets. Each item tells a story.

These keepsakes bring back memories of some of my favorite people on the planet.

When I pick one up, I’m transported back to the experience. It’s like having my own time machine.

Storytelling brings an experience alive. That aliveness can feel heightened when the experience shared is an emotional one. 

Having the courage to reveal who you are by sharing an emotionally vulnerable moment in your life also gives others permission to express themselves. It creates an opening for others to risk revealing their truths, and connecting with you on a deeper level.

Because of my vulnerability, I’ve had colleagues reach out and share honestly that they didn’t think they had the strength to make it through the day.

I’ve had clients reach out to ask me if I would simply listen, as they shed tears over how unsafe they have felt their entire lives. For the 1st time, they feel free to show up authentically, ready to be seen, and to allow their hearts to heal.

And there are times when who you are being speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying. Sometimes the words don’t matter. Which leads me to the next point.

Professionally, it’s generally not really about the perfectly polished presentation. The cornerstone is more often about having the courage to be your true self, not who you think someone wants you to be. This authenticity is key. It has you show up with integrity, and it also honors the reality you’ve lived.  

Be the messenger of your own story with pride because when people really listen, they can find themselves in the middle of it. Immersed and relating.

As a leadership coach and consultant, I work with clients to clarify their personal brand message in order to position their expertise so others see them as a trusted expert.

I get to work with them on what to say, who to say it to, and how to best say it.

And much of it is about the story. Their story.

Delivering the right message to match the person you’re speaking to, as well as identifying the best time and place, will ensure you are heard.

Understanding who your audience is, what they are dealing with, and what they want will optimize your message so that it is meaningful and relevant. Each of these awarenesses allows the connection bonds to be strengthened. 

When people seek to advance in their career, they often spend countless hours on their resume.

When people seek to grow their business, they often spend countless hours on their systems or marketing strategy.

Yet, connecting with others through story is the real bridge builder.

Regardless of your hard wiring, there is a storyteller in you.

Find the courage to tell yours. There’s power in it.

What’s your story?

ACTION: The Upside Challenge of the week is…when you look at your life, your history of experiences, is there a core theme?

Can you see how others might be able to relate to it?

Practice telling your story with friends.

Ask them for feedback.

How did they feel about you? What did they learn – about you or themselves?

Remember, the world needs you and your brilliance.

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