Vulnerability & Being In the Arena

Just over a week ago I posted a video and accompanying caption on Linkedin. My young daughter had been repeatedly sick and it culminated in her getting x-rays on her lungs. For me as a parent, it was a stressful, worrisome time.

My post covered how I was feeling, my headspace during that moment, and how I turned my perspective around.

You can read the post here. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6546779348446392321

My Purpose

I’d never shared a vulnerability post before, and for those of you who don’t know me, my purpose, my why, my reason for being is;

To help smart, driven career women (in mid-to-senior level management, who have recently started a family) that are feeling overwhelmed, drained and unfulfilled in their work, eliminate those feelings of exhaustion, and help them with the process of redesigning their lives, so that they can rediscover their purpose, create their own version of success, and live on their own terms.

 Recording the Video

I recorded the video at a highly stressful time. But I didn’t post it, until 3 days later.

I thought carefully about whether I should share the video.

I was hesitant as the subject was me a “coach” who helps people with feeling of overwhelm, wrestle with that experience...

I considered; would people judge me negatively for being overwhelmed?

Would I look like I couldn’t cope?

Would sharing this be bad for business?

I then thought, might this post help someone?

Might this post say to another woman who is experiencing overwhelm, it’s ok?

I asked myself what I put out there if I knew I wouldn’t be judged…

My answer. I’d put out their heart-centric messaging, to uplift and support.

I listened to my intuition, and my inner voice told me posting the video was the right thing to do.

My Logic

As coach, as a mother, and a friend, I felt passionately about sharing with my network, that it’s ok to experience stress. Life can be incredibly hard as a working mother.

To get stressed is human. We aren’t robots.

Life gets in the way when we least expect it.

It can (momentarily) knock us off-course.

When things get overwhelming it can feel incredibly lonely.

And when you get overwhelmed, your mind can enter into a domino-effect of negative thoughts.

  •  "You’re a bad mother."
  • "A bad employee."
  • "You’re not dedicated enough, because you’ve missed work."

You can feel out of control and helpless.

So many of us experience corporate cultures, which perpetuate this sense overwhelm. I have personally worked in office environments where the culture is for people roll their eyes if someone needs to leave work to take care of their family.

We put pressure on ourselves to be superwomen:

  • To be successful.
  • To make it all work.
  • Don’t drop the ball.
  • Meetings are more important than family.

 I posted the video because I want my clients to know that I have been there.

That I can walk in their shoes.

I want them to know life is always a work in progress.

We all struggle in certain moments, it’s human. No amount of coaching or therapy can stop life getting in the way.

But with access to the right tools and mindset techniques, we can catch ourselves and stop that domino effect, flipping our perspective more quickly.

My goal was to be a working example of that.

After I’d posted the video, I received some wonderful support.

My video was viewed 845 times at writing.

At the same time I received a very well-intended message, from a former industry colleague (who I did and do hold in high regard), offering me the following advice:

“When I saw you in your latest video in the car, I felt sorry for you. You sounded a bit desperate, as if everything was getting on top of you. I know as a parent juggling child care and work that you can feel that way. However, I would not put that stuff on LinkedIn. If you do, lots of people will like it, express sympathy, give encouraging comments, say it's brave, tell you what you want to hear, blah, blah. But the brutal truth is that it can put potential clients off. Everyone is selfish and clients just want to know that you can do the job they're paying you to do. I know some people love the 'honesty card' but I think you can be too honest. What that video says - rightly or wrongly - is that you can't handle things at the moment. And if I'm a client who is not emotionally attached to you, and I'm choosing between you and somebody else, if I see that video, I'm choosing the somebody else.”

Now with heinsight I appreciate there’s things I could have done differently to hit the perfect tone with my post, and I very much respect and value his candid insight.

Of course, the content of this message triggered the part of me that said not to share the vulnerability post ….

But the reality was my message wasn’t posted off the cuff, in an emotional state. It was posted 3 days later. It was shared with my consideration, logic and foresight.

 Knowing my clients, I felt I posting was the right thing to do.

In light of the above and with the difficult nature of vulnerability posts, I wanted to share with you my learning and takeaways:

 1.    Vulnerability posts are not to everyone’s taste.

  • To some they can be off putting.
  • But they can also help me attract my tribe.
  • They can repel the people who aren’t the right fit... That’s ok.
  • The reality is, we can’t be all things to everyone.

 2.    My goal is to help others through every piece of content I put out there.

  • I’m not here for a pity party. I’m not here to attract sympathy or “feel sorry for me” attention.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t have shared the video with my daughter in it… Maybe the video “at the time” was too raw. My video might have been better as a reflection on my thought process “after the event”.
  • I am always learning, iterating, evolving. This is part of my journey, my path…
  • My mission is to add value to my readers and help them not feel not alone.
  • I want to help shift-perspectives. Open-minds and challenge thoughts.
  • I want to ensure that my posts have balance, are real, and are useful.

 So to wrap up this analysis…

I’m going to keep being me in my posts.

Because it feels right- in my heart. Know with the content that I share you’ll get an honest, real person. Not perfection.

I’m going to keep learning, and I'm going to keep showing up as my authentic-self.

How will my life experiences help you?

I’ve experienced the highs and lows of family life. Of the corporate world. I've experienced the pressure. The politics. I walked away from that world.

I single-handedly designed my business to work around my life, around being a mother.

There's been trials and errors, but I’ve had financial successes. I'm happy. Balanced for the most part. I’ve made it work.

I’m strong. Resilient.

And I’m fully control.

I also know how it is to be vulnerable, to be human. To not always get it right, but to be consistent and to put myself out there in the arena.

I invite those of you who value imperfection, courage, compassion and creativity to join me there 🙂

As Brene Brown recently highlighted in one of her TedTalks this wonderful quote by Theodore Roosevelt, the Man in the Arena. April 23rd, 1910.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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