I pierced my tongue. I was 26 years old, lost, devastated, feeling empty and hopeless. I had lost my best friend and father to cancer and in the same year connected with my biological mother for the fist time who informed me that I was conceived by a gang rape…three black men had raped her…a white, Irish woman. I left my full time job as a leader of a non profit in Minneapolis and was now a bartender back in Baltimore. I thought that when my Dad told me to “Stay True” to myself that it meant “be free”, don’t care what others think of you….and piercing my tongue was evidence that I understood what he was telling me. I clearly had not understood the depth of what my Dad talked to me about. I did and always do care what others think of me and so do you. The first few years of this now 17 year journey were rough…real rough.
A few years later I started to feel ashamed of myself. More than ashamed…embarrassed and lonely. I was so out of balance that I was actually further from where Dad advised me to go than I had been even before he passed. A true life lesson…needed change often happens at the bottom of the well…and I was there.
I took the tongue ring out.
I had always been someone that wanted to help people…whether it was the classmate that was getting picked on at recess or the junior high school student I counseled. It is just in me. Unfortunately I had lost all belief that I was capable of helping anyone. My first step on the right path was to simply get a job that would give me an opportunity to help people so I took a job as an addictions counselor in down town Baltimore. That was 14 years ago. I have spent the last 14 years evolving and helping people. Directly and indirectly. In group settings and one one. In leadership positions and as a friend. I often tell people that while I have held different positions in my career, the work has been much the same. It’s people. And people and emotions are deep. I am deep and work hard to create a platform for people to go deep. For people to feel safe talking about what scares them. For leaders to address what is in their way of being great…often ego and insecurity. For people to find similarities and like minded intent, instead of differences. This blog is an extension of that platform.
My father was right and how my life has unfolded is the evidence. My true value to this world was not being presented. It was and in many ways still is the hardest work I have ever done and will do….Staying True. And, it’s a never ending journey. Now I want to share some of it with you.
So yes, many people have told to me “start a blog” or “write a book” over the years. They assured me that my story and my words could have impact on many people. But, self doubt is strong. And, I have been riddled with it over the years. Who the hell wants to listen to me? What makes me credible? Let me just get one more executive level position to qualify me. Sound familiar?
But, it’s time. Why? Because my heart tells me it is and after 17 years of evolving and addressing my fears I think I have earned the right and have some valuable things to share about life and leadership. Perhaps above this, I care deeply about people and choose to continuously work on becoming more empathetic. I often sit in a room and the pit in my stomach tells me someone is “off”. I extend my hand and 9 times out of 10 my gut was right. With care and empathy I offer to be a travel companion and off we go. I suppose this blog is my way of extending my hand and starting a community of Stay True so that anyone that decides to travel with me/us can have an opportunity, a safe platform to explore and extend themselves. A cliche I live by… “I may not be able to change the world, but I can change the world of one person”. Join me and imagine the extent of our efforts.
Side note: More on cliches as the posts begin. I have become fascinated by the deep truths and challenges they pose to us. And, how we use them daily ever so casually but fail miserably at living them out.
So what should you expect to read about? Why life and leadership? Well, I am going to approach this blog the same I would if I was facilitating an executive team retreat…with no agenda. I used to approach every meeting with teams and individuals with an agenda but have learned that I often cheapened or put a ceiling on the discussion when I did that. Several years ago I stopped using an agenda and trusted myself to facilitate the people, the purpose, and the emotion in the room….magic has been happening. Having learned this lesson, I am going to take a similar approach with this blog. I am slightly unsure how the topics will unfold but absolutely sure that I will share things that will challenge you to think deeper and to evolve. Leadership because I spend a ton of time with leaders and have learned that when they tap in to some of what I will write about they become phenomenal leaders and get better results. Life because it’s true, “Life is not a dress rehearsal” and I will die trying to be a better, more evolved, more loving, successful (ahhh, how do you define success?) human being and through my work and life I have learned that 99% of us want the same. Don’t you?
I look forward to walking and exploring with you. Please plug in to my first post on May 9th, my first born son’s birthday. I will open up by talking about resilience and introducing you to my beautiful Mom.
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