“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
A few weeks ago, a lovely woman recommended I watch Brené Brown’s TED talk on Vulnerability. This is powerful stuff and inspired me to purchase the audio version of The Gifts of Imperfection. So, why am I sharing this with you? The two played a significant role in the way I chose to share myself and my art with others this week.
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by several of my team leaders to share Zentangle with our wider group – 50+ professional colleagues. I was excited to be asked as I feel Zentangle dovetails very well with some of our wider research on wellbeing, mindfulness and brain function. I got all the supplies, packed up my doc camera and a few other things I use for teaching and boarded the plane for Austin – easy, peasy. While on the plane and driving to the resort, I began listening to my audio book. The more I listened and thought about my upcoming classes, the more I realized I would have to expose my imperfections to all my team mates to truly allow them to understand the power of Zentangle and what it does for me. Anything less would be dishonest and completely inauthentic. Up until this week, I’ve held much of the full story closely guarded – especially from my professional network. The more I thought about it, the more certain and terrified I became.
So, on Tuesday of this week, I gathered my courage to tell my story three times to people I admire and respect. I taught them the value of Zentangle and the little bit of Zen that comes from putting pen to paper and making one stroke at a time. As always, there were wonderful surprises along the way for all of us. The best for me was when a team mate came to me to say how much he loved the lesson but the story behind it even more.
Somehow the lesson followed me to Friday. This time I was speaking to high school students about the dangers of distracted driving for the Sudden Impact program. My presentation centers around my experiences as the family member trying to take care of loved ones after they are involved in an accident. This was THE reason I started tangling, got my certification and now teach Zentangle. I’ve been speaking for this program since 2011, a few months after my family’s accident and I’ve learned to distance myself a bit as I tell the story. Even now, the emotions can be very raw. This time, I allowed some of that to show, bringing myself and several others to tears. One of the state troopers told me that was by far my most powerful presentation.
Saturday morning found me in an excellent workshop by Leslie Zann. Leslie is a powerful speaker and my Rodan+Fields team mates brought her to New Orleans to help us in our professional development. Her message was around courage to live your best life. Leslie shared her own story and I was struck by the parallels I saw in my own experiences over the past week. I was now on the receiving side of another person’s willingness to be imperfect and vulnerable. When she talked about courage, attitude, gratitude and overcoming fear, every one of us understood that she had lived it and come out the other side to help us do the same.
Think about it a bit, as will I, and step out of hiding. Even if it’s just a tiny stretch outside your comfort zone. None of us are alone in this life and sometimes we need to share our authentic self to remind ourselves and everyone else we are wonderful and perfect in our imperfection.