The only person stopping you from unleashing your impact, and stepping into the leader you feel that you’re meant to become, is you. That’s right. YOU.
It can feel easy to blame our circumstances and come up with excuses instead of just owning it. I used to blameshift all the time, until I eventually realized that my perspective was influenced by my limited experiences. I would see my life and future through the lens of my past experiences.
I would really care about what others thought of me and it would drive me insane, for many, many years. Even today, I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what others think, whenever I feel triggered. After all, as a social entrepreneur, an intrapreneur, a leader, regardless of the label we wear, any innovative idea will have resistance and we need to build enough resilience to go with our gut, listen to feedback with empathy, and ultimately, focus.
I also learned to understand where others are coming from. Why do they really say or think what they do? How do they feel about themselves? Eventually, I got over analyzing all of that as I developed a natural awareness of where it’s really coming from. When I opened my eyes, and decided to move on and let go, I saw that only I—me, myself, and I—was choosing to make decisions that were keeping me in “stuck” mode.
I used to be an advocate of the whole “fake it till you make it” until I realized that it can catch up with you. I do believe it can work well and fast forward you into your vision of where you want to be, as it’s part of the storytelling process. If “faking it” empowers you to do the real work, then go ahead, but it should not be a facemask to avoid doing the real work. The “work” does catch up with you.
I prefer the more challenging yet more fulfilling phrase of “Face it till you make it”. Studies show that emotional resilience is the new happiness, and that pleasure is a relative state that is contrasted by discomfort and pain.
“In between fleeting, pleasing moments are many challenging ones that make happiness a relief. So, to be happy, you have to first learn how to be strong; to pick yourself up after a fall, detach from sadness when you don’t succeed, and find the will to persist instead of getting depressed when things go awry, which they often will.”
The story that you tell yourself inside will likely manifest in your outer experience. Basically, we are able to redefine our lives, and actually change our lives, by changing what we tell ourselves on the inside.
Change starts from the mind. It’s absolutely normal to have limiting beliefs about ourselves—that’s human nature. It’s about what we do with those limiting beliefs.
Sometimes, our fears are covering our unknown talent. When we reframe the way we see ourselves, starting with strengthening our empathy and self-awareness, we stop blocking those hidden talents from shining.
The Johari window is a tool that has helped me for years when it comes to self-discovery. For instance, I was in denial about some of my skills, such as digital marketing, due to feeling like I had failed instead of focusing on the insights I had learned. When I reframed my thoughts, I realized that failure enabled me to learn valuable lessons that I could bring forward in a new way.
I noticed in conversations that I would naturally help others with their digital marketing and they would praise me, but I thought that marketing was a part of my old life and it would trigger me to hear that.
After doing a lot of inner work, and reflecting on my Eat, Pray, Self-Love journey, I designed a tool that helped me discover my sweet spot. You can access it here. It was originally adapted from a tool by Guy Kawasaki, the Chief Evangelist of Canva.
If you’ve heard me speak, you know I often share how I myself was absolutely terrified of public speaking most of my life. I would decline all public speaking opportunities that came my way and thought I could nerd off behind books and my computer screen. I actually cried before going on stage for the first time. The first few times I spoke on stage felt uncomfortable, but that feeling of nervousness decreased significantly each time. The feedback I received would empower me to do it again and again, until I realized I actually really enjoyed it. It felt incredibly fulfilling to impact so many people within such a short amount of time.
I was scared to write a book because I didn’t feel my story was complete. When I was in my mid-20s, I was told by someone I deeply cared about that I had only done small things and needed to do more in order to have enough of a story. I listened to his advice and realized that he told me that because he most likely felt the exact same way about himself. I was extremely drawn to his knowledge and would empower him to write his story, but he felt he wasn’t there. We would spend weekends in coffee shops and I would be typing up notes—you know the feeling of when you meet someone and you just want to absorb everything they have to share?
I realized that I only knew my own life and story, and human connection is such that we don’t realize how others can relate to us. Chances are if they are drawn to you, and if you share in an authentic way, there will be many points of connection.
As humans, we are more similar than we think. When we spend time with each other and have a deep, meaningful conversation, no matter our walk of life, we realize that we have similar fears and feelings. In fact, my partner, Grant Erhuanga, and I have been developing a card game over the past couple of years that can help ignite these meaningful conversations among people.
People don’t want to hear how successful you are, they want to hear how you got there, or what you’re doing to get there. I don’t define success as just reaching a certain goal, but rather, overcoming obstacles and being aware of the lessons learned along the way.
Who you decide to become tomorrow is not necessarily who you are today. That doesn’t mean we have to change our core values, but rather how we show up for ourselves.
Your presence is your impact.