You owe it to yourself to be true to who you are

This was originally published in The Business News on Feb. 15, 2021.

I love to make people cry, but it’s not what you think. I give a lot of speeches, and one of the best things I see or learn afterwards is that audience members are brought to tears or cried. To me, that means what I’m saying is resonating with the audience, and they are reflecting on or taking to hear the stories and experiences I’m sharing with them.

As a speaker, it’s my job to do more than talk, I want to be able to impact a person’s life in a positive way, and sometimes that connection manifests itself in an expression of tears.

I’ve also received feedback from people on columns I wrote years ago telling me how they still remember what I wrote and how it impacted them at the time and well into the future. That is the power of words, written or spoken.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to share a few of the life lessons I’ve learned along my journey as a mother working outside of her home, a business owner and more. I thought I would share a few of my lessons with you.

Risk

It wasn’t until probably the past 15 years that I realized people thought of me as a risk taker. I thought of what I did and am doing as a typical human nature rather than atypical. I encourage everyone to make yourself uncomfortable. When you are uncomfortable, that is when you know you are growing.

Influence

Be aware that your words and actions influence others even if you don’t intend to. I learned this lesson early on when my elementary teacher pulled me into the hall and gave me a talking to after learning I was spurring on my classmates to antagonize her. I had no idea I could literally influence others’ behavior and it’s a lesson I take to heart every day. As a mother, business owner and one who frequently deals with crisis situations, my actions and words are duly noted by others and can influence their thoughts and actions – so can yours.

Speak up

It is so important to speak up. It can be done in a respectful, powerful way but oftentimes others are biting their tongues when they should be sharing their thoughts or ideas.

As a big picture thinker and a woman quickly approaching 50, I have found my voice over the years and learned to regret it later if I don’t speak up.

Sometimes, it can be a lonely position to be in, and I have a lot of experience in this arena as well, but I’m firmly committed to speaking up and encouraging others to do so.

Again, this might be uncomfortable, but your singular experience and perspective is valuable, remember and know that.

Be authentic

Be who you are and embrace it. Admittedly so, I’ve also learned over the years that I’m not every person’s “cup of tea.” That’s OK You should embrace who you are wholeheartedly and share your true self with others. When you are authentic and you share your many facets such as vulnerability, toughness, sweetness, etc., others can relate to you as a fellow human being.

There’s so much beauty to be had in authenticity, and you will blaze your own trail being you.

Not everyone will like you

What? That’s right. In the journey of life in the workplace, outside the workplace, at home, walking into a meeting and more, it’s OK if people don’t like you.

Really, trust me on this. If you are operating from a place of always trying to appease others in the hopes of them like you, you will find yourself miserable. Begin first with building trust. You might be surprised at the difference this can make in your life and relationships.

Whoever you are, you owe it to yourself and others to revel in being uniquely you. I’m not saying it’s easy, but when you are true to yourself, you will connect with others in a really beautiful way, and as humans we need that connectedness more than ever.

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