The other day I listened to the marvelous Christine Dunn speak about how it takes practice to become skilled at something, She was saying that when we first start out at anything, we do things that we later feel embarrassed or laugh about and that she admires famous people, for example, who have left their younger selves’ attempts at videos available online. It’s often quite funny to see their earlier work and you can really see where they’ve come from and what they’ve learned.
She laughed while she shared a story about her own embarrassing early video attempts. “I was doing all these things trying to look ‘cool’ but actually I just looked silly”. As I listened to her experience I felt a sympathetic cringe of humiliation and I was uncomfortably aware of her vulnerability in sharing that story with us – but I didn’t think about it again UNTIL…
Two days later I started to get some feedback about my newfound attempts at marketing. I’ve never tried to market my offerings before. I’ve been quietly seeing clients and doing my thing for years and it’s gone very well thank you very much! But now, in my great enthusiasm to share my new book and courses, I’ve gone and tipped the apple cart! I proudly sent out my carefully designed email to all and sundry explaining all the offers they can choose in my new business and what new ways we can work together.
I received some interesting feedback.
Truthfully, most of the feedback has been super-excited sign-ups and hoorahs. Yaaay to you and me! But a couple of kind people lovingly reflected my newness to me.
“The marketing language is very slick but I can’t really feel YOU in it.”
“Gosh you’re offering a lot of things. It’s quite overwhelming.”
It was said with such love and support that I managed to receive it with an open heart and express my very genuine appreciation that they cared enough to tell me this. Yet even as I knew it wasn’t meant to hurt or hinder me, part of me wanted to crawl away under a rock in embarrassment that I’d been such an obviously over-enthusiastic beginner. I felt so very exposed.
And THAT’S when Christine’s vulnerability saved me. Because I suddenly remembered her silly attempts at coolness and I thought, ‘Ah well. This is MY gauche attempt. I’m learning and it’s OK to look foolish.” And I was able to laugh and to love myself exactly where I am right now. In fact, I felt proud of myself for trying, and learning, and letting myself be vulnerable while I did so. Daring greatly and stepping into the ring.
Today someone who attended my recent book launch said, “You were so real up there in front of all of us. You just let yourself be you. You weren’t presenting or pretending and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to be able to do. To just be myself and let myself be seen. I found it so inspiring.’”
We laughed a lot at the launch, partly because I was honest about how this is all new to me – from struggling to adjust my chair to being excited to see so many people – we had fun with the ungraceful moments and our laughter made them graceful. And look, it helped someone.
So let yourself just be you. Let yourself learn ungracefully. Dare greatly. Let your clumsy moments be seen and loved. You really have no idea how much allowing your vulnerability to be seen and loving yourself in it might help someone else love themselves more and have the courage to show the world their beautiful self too.