Oy. The past couple weeks have presented numerous opportunities to grow and step out of my comfort zone. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been amazing.
One of the ways I stepped out of my comfort zone was to wear a dress while delivering a keynote address. For some of you this may seem sort of ridiculous, (especially if you are a guy reading this!) but I’m guessing there are more than a few of you ladies out there who will know what I mean.
Maybe it won’t be baring your legs, maybe it’s your arms, or your feet, or even your heart, either way, it’s exposing yourself to potential judgement and rejection.
When I was in middle school we had a dance in the gymnasium. (Remember those?) My friend Shannon and I dressed in bright tops of neon, we did our hair in a Madonna- inspired style, wore stacks of black rubber bracelets, and of course, sported mini-skirts.
I’ll never forget standing in line waiting for a soda, Duran-Duran blaring over the speakers, talking and laughing and dancing. We thought we were so cool.
A couple girls came up behind us, and loud enough for us to hear them clearly over “Hungry Like The Wolf” say: “Look how fat her calves are! I would never wear a skirt like that with those legs!” I turned to look at them, saw they were pointing at me and my heart shrank, I became totally self-conscious, my friend and I left the line…I tried to enjoy myself, but the damage was done.
For the last 30 years, I avoided wearing dresses and skirts whenever I could, unless they were long. I preferred pants. I just felt more comfortable that way. (Thank you very much).
On Sunday I stood up in front of a room full of gorgeous women and their beautiful daughters, ages 12-18, all dressed to the nine’s, most of them in mini-skirts, and I spoke to them about leadership, about how “looking good, fitting in, and staying safe” kept me from being a leader in my life, and how I saw it in my clients and colleagues as well. I talked to them about being enough, just as they are, and about how the judgement and self-criticism we carry around as women gets in the way of our leadership ability.
I wore a dress, no pantyhose, just my bare legs in heels.
You could hear a pin drop.
I saw them look at my legs (because that’s what we women do, we ceaselessly compare ourselves to others), and I saw and felt them receive to the message coming from my heart.
I laid it out there. Bare legs, open heart. Vulnerable as I’ve ever been.
I was willing to sacrifice the belief that I have unattractive legs and therefore not allowed to wear a short dress. I was willing to speak about the elephant in the room, about what drives many girls and women to diminish their light, hold back their truth, and put on a smile when inside they are dying.
It was scary, I won’t lie.
The feeling I had afterwards was awesome. It was great to get the feedback from the women and a few girls about the talk and how they got a lot out of it. I loved serving in that way. But I’ll tell you, the inner knowing that I am enough, my body doesn’t define my purpose in life, and no matter what anyone thought about my legs, I was safe, I was OK, and no one could take that away from me ever again, was priceless.
I wish the same for you.
What do you need to bare, to sacrifice, to let go of, in order to be free?
Email me, let me know what you will let go of and what action you will take to seal the deal.
Shake that devil off your back. He’s keeping you from dancing to the tune of your passion and purpose!
From My Heart To Yours,