Oh, dear friends, I am excited to tell you about my most recent cry!
Yep, that’s right I sobbed (like a toddler getting their favorite toy taken away), but the reason I wrote a whole blog about it was that at the end I had clarity and understanding.
Now before I dive into the cry, I need to set the scene for you. Most recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Limitless Leadership Intensive. It was Marketed as a path to self-discovery and enlightenment for those desiring to become stronger leaders. When offered, I jumped without a second thought, maybe because I had an espresso that morning, but most likely because I yearned to discover new ways to make impacts and develop my leadership skills. If you don’t know me, I am the people pleasing type, but I am also the person that desires to be the best version of myself, that meant the best “boss,” business owner, friend, community advocate and wife. Limitless felt freeing to me, like a space I could go and be my best self without roadblocks or the effects of naysayers. I jumped at the opportunity for all of those reasons, plus I was just straight up curious what made this course, so “Intensive” and I liked the challenge.
I knew both Ali Starr and Allison Garner, the hosts of the event (I know it’s kind of like Ali ), pretty well and admired their work. They could have told me they had a bucket of mud that would make me a better person and I would have bought it.
My point is, following their lead makes sense to me, and it is as if I am pursuing my own heart. Anyone who knows them knows they are setting out to make impacts on individuals in profound ways, impacts that begin the snowball effect on significant movements which can change people’s lives.
As soon as I understood the magnitude of the event and the participants involved, I began to panic. Allison(Garner) and I chatted before the event, and I expressed to her that I didn’t know if I would fit in. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to be in a room full of leaders. I thought, here I am a relatively young business owner with an infant of a company, comparative to these entrepreneurs, what do I have to offer to them? I had set out with big dreams, and I wondered if they would think I was naive to the world of business. I had placed them on a pedestal, something I often did to secure the fact that I didn’t belong or deserve to have a seat at the table. And let’s be honest, if all of that wasn’t making me panic, the very reason I wanted to go in the first place because it was a challenge and intense, would.
Needless to say, I went. The first day was pretty relaxed with a meet and greet a few simple exercises, defining concepts, and evaluating a personality test we did before coming. The personality test was so accurate I wondered if they had hired someone to follow me around for a week before writing it. After the shock of its accuracy wore off, I discovered new ways to use the skills I do have, and it even offered up real-life goals that would be suiting, people I should surround myself with, and the type of work that would energize my personality. I have taken numerous personality tests, and the level of real-life application in this test was superior.
As far as people go, everyone was friendly, and for the first few hours, EVERYONE looked scared sh!tless! We didn’t know one another well, and now we were diving (face first) into our insecurities, weaknesses, and oddly enough the most challenging part...talking fondly of ourselves.
That’s right, it was harder for us to speak kindly on ourselves then it was to point out our flaws, weaknesses, or ways we could improve! In fact, some of us struggled to even get it out of our mouths, it was uncomfortable for everyone, but we were all in it together.
I walked out the first day with my head held high, that wasn’t so bad, I thought. In fact, I was slightly bored and wondering when we would get to the intense stuff. Little did I know all of this minor work was only getting us prepared for the significant work that was ahead.
That first day was just an appetizer to the main course which was served on the second day. We came in smiling and a wee bit tired from the long day prior but all eager to be challenged. Ali2 started the day by asking us this simple question that would lead to the Cry...for nearly everyone:
"What is the one thing you don't want anyone here to know about you?".
SH!T(and a variety of other profanities screamed out in my head) I felt my body stiffen and I immediately started searching for emergency exits or wondered how long I could hide out in the bathroom before they came searching for me. I didn't want to tell these leaders and strong influencers in my community my biggest fears! To my awe, everyone had profound insecurities that I never in a million years would have fathomed. Things that made them dare I say it, Real. People! They were raw, vulnerable and opening the door to their hearts.
At this point, I could feel the smoothie I had that morning coming back up and that nasty little lump in my throat that meant
I would likely cry or barf if I opened my mouth. Here it is, my turn, and I can't sit mute any longer because it's just as awkward. "Ehem, I uh, I, I don't want you all to know that I, I, I don't feel worthy." Just as I expected I feel worse, clawing my way out of my skin would be a joy at this point. Oh my gosh, I think these ladies are trying to kill me, what kind of sick exercise is this?! The room was like a puddle of emotions, and we were all sitting in the funk. Allison (Garner) looks around, "Alright, now let's begin the real work..."
Now I can't tell you everything we dug into, you'll have to go to one to experience the reality of it, but I will share that we dug and dug and dug until I swear I saw peoples souls, sitting there, so innocent and vulnerable. Then we did something even more profound, we found the light, and we sought it out. We reached the bottom with the safety of two professionals who held the space for us to grieve, be pissed, get curious, or whatever else came up (luckily no vomit). Then we did what we came to do, we grew, and we developed new ways of thinking. The old "funk" of our thought patterns was broken and could no longer function in this way because we smashed it and shattered every belief we had about them. We had to develop new methods and patterns. It was in these patterns that opportunity, strength, and clarity lived, and we all saw it.
Yes, I cried ( I think all of us did), in fact, my face, body, and brain hurt for a good 2 days after. But what I took with me was a bigger prize and well worth the pain. I recognized I couldn't believe everything I told myself. I was feeding myself lies, and I was my own roadblock from doing great things and being limitless. I didn't want to tell my whole story because then I would need to tell you all that I didn't feel worthy. I couldn't be a great leader because I didn't think I belonged in that category, and I made sure to tell myself. I placed people on pedestals to secure my understanding of my own significance, and I used every piece of negative feedback as confirmation that I was not valuable.
So am I limitless now? I know you're asking, and my answer, NO! No way, this is like anything else, it takes practice and showing up every day. Afterall, I built these patterns over a lifetime of learned behaviors. These behaviors were not serving me, and the real work starts after the two-day event. Now I have to decide each day what serves me best, and then, the hardest part, I have to do that which does. Tough cookies, and likely something I will never fully master, but I will definitely show up for the challenge!
Thank you to our mentors and masters of limitless thought Allison Garner and Ali Starr for an incredible two-day event that will transform into a lifetime of learning. You are both amazing!
Want to learn more about the Ali's? See Allison Garner's website (we were honored to create) or Ali Starr's Facebook page