moving forward with your story
At one point in my career, I began having recurring dreams about identity theft. While each dream was different, the final result was identical: I would find my purse intact after having left it somewhere, only to discover that my driver’s license, credit cards, and all identifying elements were gone. Never once was my purse taken – just my unique identity. Most often I would wake in a fearful, cold sweat. This greatly agitated my dog who was already offended that I shared her king-sized bed, never mind that I was disturbing her beauty sleep. After all, she was barely getting 18 hours a day as it was.
At the time, I was a leader feeling increasingly frustrated under a supervisor who was control freaky, narcissistic, and self-serving. Kind of like my dog actually. The bureaucracy was a straight jacket of nonsensical rules, and my staff and I were frequently forced into pretzel-like administrative contortions to overcome obstacles.
Often, I was blocked from doing what I knew was the right thing, advised to shut up and do what I was told, and my considerable knowledge and experience went unused and unacknowledged. Yet, I was still accountable for results. But nobody cared that numerous roadblocks prevented us from being effective and efficient enough to actually attain those results. If anyone did care, they were unable or unwilling to help. I felt invisible, voiceless, and like a thoroughbred being kept on a pony ride.
I became depressed. Dreading Mondays, I prayed my mental health would remain intact until Friday. On weekends, my resilience was low and minor issues often left me close to tears. As a stress eater, I gained forty pounds in one year. Intellectually, I knew the environment was damaging, but emotionally I resisted accepting I was in a situation so foreign to who I really was .
Which brings me back to my recurring dreams. Eventually, I realized they symbolized my career. The shell of me went to work (my purse), but the real me – my talents, abilities, and drive (the contents of my purse) – were being stolen every day. At the very least, I wasn’t permitted to access them.
I started asking myself some tough questions about what would make me happy, and I came to the conclusion that I would never be happy if I kept trying to measure up to other people’s views of what was important. I had to focus on what I thought was important – the things that gave me meaning, gave me fulfillment, and made me feel like I was making a difference versus checking off bureaucratic to do lists.
This experience was the beginning of me owning my own story, my own source of happiness, my own view of how I could best show up and serve the world. I never realized how much owning my own story could transform my career and I how I showed up in it. I’m so thrilled to now work with clients, many of them women, every day in helping them own their story and share it with the world. It’s a real privilege to be part of the amazing transformations I see in my clients as they embrace their authentic message.
An unexpected benefit of this rewarding work is an improvement in my sleep quality; I no longer have any dreams about identity theft. My dog, therefore, sleeps better as well. To show her appreciation for fewer nocturnal disturbances, my dog has rewarded me with another inch of bed space. It reminds me that personal transformation often happens a little bit at a time, but after a while, you look back and see how much progress you’ve made. Why not start owning your own story today? You may start with only one inch, but movement creates momentum. Before you know it, you’ll move forward in much bigger ways.
Ready to reshape your expectations and embrace your unique message? Join Shona and her partner Jan Bailey in partnership with XcelerateHER & Sandbox Centre for Empower HER Wisdom, a 6-week program that helps you identify, craft and launch your important message to the world. This limited registration program runs September 14th through October 23rd – reserve your seat today. The world is waiting to hear from you!
About the contributor:
In their highly interactive workshops, OVATION speaker trainers have helped countless individuals transform their ability to connect to their audience and deliver authentic and meaningful messages with impact. Now, more than ever, communication with some oomph is an essential skill. At a time when our emotions swing from overwhelmed to irrational, our ability to communicate effectively follows suit and it can be hard to remove the anger, frustration or even fear from our voice, let alone from our message … and that can have all manner of consequences.
Shona Welsh, BA, MCEd, CHRL, CCC is a communication and speaking expert who has won numerous speaking, writing and learning design awards. The author of several books and designer/facilitator of hundreds of international workshops in speaking and communications, she has held international senior executive positions over three decades. She teaches extensively about leadership, communications, and innovation with numerous universities and colleges.