During the first few weeks of 2012, I’ve been doing a lot of phone calls with entrepreneurs and the same recurring themes come up over and over. These people are at the early stages of starting their own small business or self-employment. And they are fearful and uncertain. That uncertainty is usually around what to offer the world and how best to do that. “Will people want me and what I have to offer?”
And so I ask them about themselves and discover what their life’s work has been about to date and attempt to excavate their natural gifts and talents which usually they take so much for granted that they have become quite hidden, sometimes quite deeply so. What I’m trying to get at is the authentic them, because this is what I feel they should be offering to the world. When we get to the nub of it, there’s usually one of two reactions.
“Thank you, Judith, for bringing me home. I now remember who I am and why I do what I do and you’ve given me confidence to do what I really wanted to do all along.” Or – more often (sadly) – “Really, Judith? Do you think it’s OK to show my warts to the world and expect people still to love me?” Yes, I do. Not only that but you’ve got to. And I don’t think they’re warts. Only you think that.
I read this piece of writing this morning from Sue Engle at YourJoyfulHeart in which she describes that she is uncovering her authentic self through her writing and it’s taking her into places which previously she might have thought frightening. Sue’s not without fears now and her friends and family are especially fearful for her as the financial outcome remains unclear as yet. But Sue seems powerless to do anything about it. Good! She’s brave enough to go into The Fertile Void and as I have written here before, and shared with Sue earlier on her blog, I’ve never come out of The Fertile Void yet in a worse place than I went in.
But you’ve got to trust. And especially in the authentic you. Follow your nose, follow your passions, listen to your gut, excavate the authentic you and share it with the world. It’s what I believe we all want of you. Just to be you, and the best version of you as you can manage.
Recently I put a snippet about myself on my About box over there on the right. It says “Warning. Strong language from the outset.” I am not especially proud of this fact about me. I swear. It’s what I do. And frankly the F word is my favourite. I haven’t got time to go into why this is. And many’s the long year I’ve wasted partly wanting to change that and be more ladylike. But recently I’ve just surrendered to it and accepted it. I call a spade a spade, and frequently in very strong language. Either you are cool with that, or not. But at least I am now aligned with it and you are forewarned.
I heard one of the announcers say this on the BBC before a programme started “strong language from the outset” and I thought :Yes! That’s me.” It resonated, I recognised myself and so I bunged it up there on the blog.
But my reason for sharing this is shortly after I posted that I received two very positive pieces of feedback about it. Readers thought it was funny and true, i.e. authentic. Quite a lot of what I say on this blog is experimental. Will people like it? But as you can see in this nice limey-green image, there is a suggestion that in the times in which we live now, authenticity is prized above much else.
Last week I received an invitation from Action Jackson to go and speak to a group of young people in North London. I said “I’d love to come, but speaking isn’t really what I do and if you want a speaker, you are better off looking elsewhere. What I do is sit amongst the group and talk to them, listen to them, find out what they need to know and share myself and my wisdom for what that’s worth.” And Jackson said he’d rather have that, frankly. And then I said “Hooray, then I’m your woman, count me in!”
Our call was interrupted and Jackson asked if he could have a mobile number to call me back. And I said, slightly apologetically, as he sounded so achingly cool and hip and trendy and because he himself probably uses an iPhone, “Oh, I don’t do mobiles; I only have one for texting my niece and nephews” and got him to call me back on my landline. And when he came back he said “Oh, I love that you don’t do mobiles!” So it seemed the more authentic I got with Jackson, the more we really connected.
So I shall continue to try to emerge as increasingly honest, increasingly authentic, increasingly me.
Do you dare to do the same?