Cracked Open: Here’s what happened when I shared my REAL story

It’s been a while since I’ve written and it feels good to be back!  The last 6 months have been quite a roller coaster ride of major transformation for me. I’ve also been doing a lot of going inward or what I call “cocooning”.  During those times, it’s often difficult for me to write for my business on a consistent basis.   Have you ever experienced times in your business where you just didn’t have it in you to write that on-going blog? There are simply ebbs and flows and I have finally accepted that the best way to move through them is to honor the process and trust that the perfect experience is happening.

In this cocooning stage, I had been taking a hard look at what my passions are, where I am going and more importantly, why I do what I do.  I really do love what I do but I’ve known there is something even bigger and more expansive that this all fits into.  What that is, I’m not sure just yet.  But what I do know is the only way to get to that expansive place is to notice where I’m holding back and to truly share more of me on stage and off.  Being authentic is a huge value of mine and it’s what I’ve always helped so many others become.  It wasn’t until I recently attended a 3-day conference put on by George Ira Carroll, though that I truly experienced being cracked open.

Imagine…it’s day 3 of the conference and we just learned how to craft our story.  I had a knowing I was tapping into something really powerful and scary at the same time, so I asked a question about what I was experiencing. Next thing you know I was being asked to share my story on stage in front of the entire group. “You mean right now?” I had never felt so scared in my life!

I immediately felt the emotion well up in my heart and the tears starting to build up.  I also knew I had to share it.  You see, in the past I had always shared the “safe” story about leaving corporate and starting my business, then failing after 2 years and rebuilding it.  What I have never shared in front of any group before was my more personal story behind the story.  It was time. I walked up to the stage shaking, knowing I had to start somewhere.  So, I started sharing the REAL story…

Family before meI was born into a family of 4 boys.  They were all close in age and then 4 years later, I came along – the “pleasant surprise”.  My mother and father were thrilled to pieces but my brothers, well..they just didn’t know what I was.  My mom used to tell me that they called me a boy and used to say things like, “What’s he doing now? …Is he coming with us?” I also had a very strong father figure where you knew when you heard, “Wait till your father gets home”, it was not good.  There was never a shortage of being around boys, in fact, my 3 cousins were all boys and I have 6 nephews and only one niece.  Even one of my nephews when he was young used to call me “Uncle Jean”.  I knew something was “different” about me.

Me and my MomTo no surprise, I grew up as a Tom boy; very athletic and strong.  But, I also learned to be very independent.  It started when I was often left alone when my brothers were “supposed” to babysit. Sound familiar?  Not only would they leave the house, but they would threaten me if I told my parents.  I remember turning every light, TV and radio on in the house so I wouldn’t feel so alone. That was when I learned that speaking up was not an option.  It was no surprise later in life that my Mother told me I barely spoke when I was young.

Me and my brothersWhen I did speak up and tattle tale on one of my brothers (as long as one parent was around to protect me), I was later chased after by them.  I would run up the stairs as fast as I could until I made it to my room and could lock the door behind me.  That was my sanctuary, my safe space. I remember sitting in my room for hours on end determined to make every gift from a book I found in the house called “101 Gifts to make”.  That book was my life saver.  Creating gifts with my own hands was how I could be recognized.  It was also my escape from the real world. It’s no wonder why years later I found the words “Help Me” inscribed in the window sill.  Not that I was in any real danger but my psyche clearly thought I was.  It was my silent cry for help.

Fast forward to Junior High & High School – I was SUPER shy.  In fact, I didn’t dare share I had a crush on a boy and when my older brothers asked who my boyfriend was, I’d make up a name.  I still can’t believe to this day I actually asked out my date to the prom. It was out of sheer peer pressure (my friend dared me) and I didn’t want to disappoint my mom.  I was even more shocked when he said yes because he was one of the “cooler” kids.

It wasn’t until I moved away to college that I experienced freedom.  I was like a kid at a candy store, but I soon realized the field of Computer Science I had chosen at the advice of my father was pretty tough.  He told me if I could just get through the first year it would get easier.  He was right and all of my hard work landed me a position in a great IT consulting company.  Here I was again in a male dominated environment, but heck, I knew how to work with men and I was a hard worker.  After 4 years I moved up the corporate technical ladder and then one day, I’ll never forget sitting in a weekly staff meeting with my peers.  I was surrounded by 4 other Sr Technical Architects (all men) who graduated from MIT and loved what they did.  I looked around and thought, “What am I doing here?  This is not my passion.  Who am I?”  This is when my journey began.

inner tranformationI was on a mission to find my purpose and life’s work.  I attended the first of many intense growth and development courses that had me take a hard look at my past.  It really called me to speak up for myself.  I learned how to forgive myself for not speaking up when I was young.  I spoke to my Dad and my brothers and forgave them and recognized that they all did the best they could with what they knew.  I discovered for the first time the true power of my voice.

I also hired my first coach who helped me release old programming from the past that no longer served me.  In fact, I recall losing almost 10 lbs over that period and I had never changed my diet or exercise. She also helped me tap into my feminine essence and uncover the woman I truly was that had been dormant for so long (I had never been asked to wear so much pink in my life!).  That was just the beginning.

Out of that experience, I discovered my love for coaching and transformation and soon after, I landed an opportunity within the same company to move into training project teams and speaking in front of clients.  That’s when I discovered my passion for training and speaking.

I traveled across the globe training and working with project teams and loved the freedom of creating my own schedule.  I also had the opportunity to shape the core competencies and core values of the company as we were growing so fast.  But, soon, the 4 walls of Corporate were too constraining for me so I broke away to start my own training and coaching business. It was time to honor all of who I was and bring my voice out into the world in the way that only I could do.

me and my brothers now

I am grateful for the experiences I had growing up.  I would not be as strong and resilient as I am today and I would not have done so well in such a male dominated field if it were not for my past.  I would not be as creative as I am today because of time in my sanctuary called my bedroom.  I lost my voice at such a young age but having discovered my true voice power over the years, I am now committed to help others find their voice power, speak their truth and change the world.   My passion for teaching and helping others package their expertise into workshops and webinars has been a very powerful vehicle for me to do that- and I know it’s just the beginning.

After I shared my story on stage and sat down in my seat, I was still shaking, but what happened after that truly blew me away. Several people thanked me for sharing what they themselves were afraid to share.  Others felt more connected to me as they had similar experiences.  And, a few others later in the day told me that hearing my story is what inspired them to voluntarily share their story in the afternoon, one they had never shared before.

me as a speaker

I have been a professional speaker for over 15 years and it’s not until now that I have shared my story on stage (and some of even off stage).  I always thought my personal stuff was not meant to be shared and since it’s from the past that was already resolved, what’s the point in sharing it now? Sharing my story in all its rawness and beauty is what truly set me free.  I recently included my story for the first time in a webinar I delivered and the feedback was that they felt more of me in the room.  In sharing my story, others get to connect and relate to me at a deeper level.  That is the impact your voice can have on others.

Each of you has a unique message and gifts to share with the world that the world needs to hear.  Where have you been holding back? What’s your bigger why and how did you get there?  Your story is what has shaped who you are today.  And without each and every one of your unique experiences you would not be the person you are today doing the kind of work you do.  Honor all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly. As Brene Brown says, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”

The world so wants to experience your greatness and juiciness, all your gifts and talents that you deliver uniquely.  When you hold back, the world gets gypped of all that.  Do you have to share every nitty gritty detail about your childhood?  No!  Do you have to share it with everyone? No!  But, please don’t wait as long as I did.  The world is craving to hear what you have to say.

If it’s time for you to get your voice out into the world and you’re not sure where to start, drop me a line.

The time is now.  The world is waiting.

With deepest gratitude.
Hugs,
Jean

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