I came up with the title of this article after sitting on the beach during summer vacation. I finished listening to a meditation focused on connection, hopped onto Google Docs app to write the title of this post and opened my email. I had a new email from Tracy Oswald, my dear friend, coach, VP of The Growth Lab and co-host of the newly released Growth Lab podcast. Here is what she had to say:

Where are you shying away from OWNING your own greatness? Dialing your weirdness down to be more “p.c” or “normal”?

Dimming your own light so you don’t stand out and people don’t notice your quirkiness.

Making yourself smaller in this big wonderful world.

Let’s just all stop that, shall we?

I immediately responded with a “YES”!!

There is something to be said about showing up authentically, 100% as you are, and watching the magic happen. You learned a bit about this from Ali Blotter in Week 18 and from me in Week 43. If you don’t remember those posts, go check them out again.

I’ve reflected on the top lessons I’ve learned while simultaneously writing and living this experience. While I will never get off my soapbox about sending personalized LinkedIn invitations (Week 19), think that “talking to more people, longer” (Week 14) will help bring us closer to those around us, and appreciate all the advice my guests have had to offer (weeks 10, 32, and 39), if I had to take only one piece of advice with me, it would be to show up authentically.

You know when your internal BS meter is going off. It’s typically triggered when you sense someone around you isn’t being truthful, when someone is trying to sell you something you don’t need, or when you get a sense that others are holding back.

Conversely, when you are with someone who is comfortable in her skin, owns her voice, and speaks truthfully, your chances of connecting meaningfully expand.

Let’s go back to Tracy’s words, shall we?

When are you holding back? When are you dialing yourself down? When are you making yourself smaller?

Not sure how to make this pivot? Here is one of my favorite exercises to assign to coaching clients.

    • Draw a vertical line down the middle of a piece of paper.
    • In one column, keep track of all of the times you are holding back from being your authentic self.
    • In the other column, keep track of the times when you are 100% you.
    • Note by each item: Who are you with? What is the situation? How do you feel? 
    • Update this log in real-time for two weeks.
    • Identify common themes across both sides of the paper. 
  • How can you bring elements of when you thrive as your authentic self into the times you are holding back? Who can you ask to help empower you to be YOU?

Life is too short to nod your head “yes” when your heart is screaming “no”.  Invite your authentic self to play full out in all places. That’s when you’ll experience the magic.

Do you want some help working through the exercise above? I’m happy to hop on a call to walk through your observations and help you define a few next steps. Reach out to me on social media or email me at natalie@smalltownleadership.com  

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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