What does it mean to you? I feel like authenticity and transparency are closely related and they come with a degree of vulnerability and risk. So much, that I think the vulnerability and risk actually scare people away. Would you agree?
Here is what I am thinking… I had a really tough decision to make about sharing my personal life and struggles with Olivia’s pregnancy with the world. For those of you who don't know, I gave birth to a baby girl 12 weeks early. She was born on 7/21/14 at 7:12 pm weighing ONLY 12 oz and 10 inches. She has broken the record as the smallest baby in the hospital and the one of the smallest in the country. Today she is thriving and growing.
The Scary Part Of The Story...
The story begins the beginning of May when I began to know that I was having challenges and things just got worse from there. I was on bed rest, unable to really leave the house except to go to the Doctor. I went from being a very independent person to asking my husband to go get me a glass of water. I felt pathetic. I was also scared out of my mind about my little girl, and admittedly a little embarrassed because it was happening to me. (Why? I don't know.) I was getting pretty sad and depressed and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was starting to close up and only a very few people actually knew what was going on. Work was my release, because I could be "me" and no one knew what was going on. They didn't see me laying in bed with no make up on, hair on top of my head, feeling miserable. My fingers did the talking on the keyboard. I became silent on my personal Facebook page and was just living one day at a time. Talking about my situation, and not knowing what the outcome was going to be, was too hard for me to write about or talk about. So I didn’t.
But do you know what happened?
In fact, one day I was the lowest I had ever been in my life. I was laying on the couch and didn’t even have the energy in my arm to hold the phone to my ear to call the Dr. My family didn’t know what to do. I seriously felt like a bomb went off, was eating my insides, and the shrapnel from the bomb also exploded and cut through my loved ones. I hated seeing them so hurt that I was hurt. Luckily this deep sorrow only lasted about 3 days, and then things turned around.
As I got out of my slump I decided there was only one way to be. DETERMINED. My aunt reminded me of the Kate Perry "Roar" song. She encouraged me to let my inner Mama Bear out. (Look out world!)
That week, my OBGYN told us after measuring Olivia in the womb that, “Technically babies measuring this small do not survive. They are too small to get a ventilator in them.” She was so compassionate when she said it and I could tell it hurt her to tell me that. But I was determined. I looked her square in the eye and said, “We are having this baby, and she is going to be healthy.” I wasn't sure I believed it myself but I figured that if I said it aloud I could almost speak it into existence.
Soon after that, is when I went to the hospital for the second time. (Did I mention that I checked INTO the hospital on my birthday? The only gift I wanted was a healthy baby and I told everyone.) I decided right then and there, that if I were going to be bringing a baby into this world in 4 days, I couldn’t be sitting in the hospital scared out of my mind. I needed to pull it together, grab onto the strength inside me…and from others…and get over it. So what did I do? I decided to let it all hang out.
I started reaching out. I started to tell people slowly what was going on in my life. I started posting pictures on my FB page of all the positive sayings I wrote on construction paper hung up in my hospital room. I made that hospital room the best thing ever. I brought in air fresheners, table clothes, chocolates for the nurses. I told them my story, asked them about their life... I started doing a LOT of praying, and guess what? People were supportive. They wanted to help. They wanted to be there for me. I just needed to get past my ego and fear and LET THEM IN.
I had to be transparent. I had to be vulnerable.
Some people in my life were saying, “But what if?” or “What about the people who don’t wish you well? Who would actually be happy that your going through challenge?”
My response was “I don’t care. That is their problem. It isn't mine." I can only live for TODAY (which is the toughest lesson I have learned the past few months) and part of living for today was admitting what was going on and almost creating a public accountability for myself.
Each time I admitted to someone what was going on it became more and more real. I checked in on Friday to the hospital, got two steroid shots for Olivia's lungs, was put on a magnesium drip for 48 hours (blew up like a balloon), and then was scheduled for a C Section on Monday night. I wasn't going to sit in that room for 4 days shaking in my boots - and what I did made ALL the difference in my world!
What I Really Learned:
During this time, learned that I have a high drive to be strong and inspire people. I always knew I got a natural high by motivating, inspiring, and challenging others… but oddly enough knowing that I needed to shine my light and show the world how I could take on this challenge, be brave, ask for help when I needed really taught me a big lesson about myself. I get strength through my community. Knowing that I am not alone. Knowing that so many people are thinking, talking, praying, keeping the hope made me want to keep talking, praying, and keeping the hope. I felt like I had a responsibility to continue to CHOOSE to be positive.
It helped me become determined. It created this synergy that blossomed inside of me that truly surprised myself. It was this burst of I CAN DO THIS and IT IS GOING TO BE OK, and I really believed it this time. It got me through it. For the first time in my life I constantly felt like God was next to me those few days… I felt Him stronger than I ever had in my life. I felt so loved, and overwhelmed and speechless at the support that was coming our way.
All this, because I had the gonads to actually be real. Tell my story. Not be afraid of the “what if’s” or what people might think…Basically, not have a filter.
I could go on for days and days about this topic, but what’s my point?
My Story IS Your Story, In Your Business...
Your business is a creation that you have built yourself. Don’t forget to leave the “business” side sometimes and get down to the real YOU in it. Don’t be afraid to bare your heart, share your personal life, tell your story (over and over again because not everyone see's it the first time), stand up for a cause, keep updating people on a saga that is going on. Often times businesses are so stuffy that they forget to be human. They forget that, we, as humans have flaws and struggles. By putting them out there you are actually connecting with people because they are seeing your vulnerability and compassion.
Admit your weaknesses. Admit your faults. Acknowledge that you are not always perfect will go a long way and help people be able to relate to you more and feel connected. We gain intimacy with others through venerability. If we can't be venerable...can we really be real?
In Your Personal Life...
Let's get outside of business for a moment. In your personal life, you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to go through things alone. The recent death of Robin Williams actually comes to my mind. Everyone needs a support system. Now, I am not saying that you have to be like me and put it all over facebook, but it is important to take the time OUT of your business to still have a life. Nurture relationships, connect with others, celebrate life, and give yourself the time to heal the things that need mending. Call up your friends and family and help them and let them help you. We are social creatures. We were not meant to go through things alone. I can not stress that enough.
I ask you that you try to be more real in your life. More authentic. More transparent. I think some of us get caught up in “keeping up appearances” and don’t let our guard down too much. Or, we just share surface type things. This is all to say that I am not endorsing bitching and moaning or complaining. Sure, you can have your “poor me” spout, but it is important to pick a time to GET OVER IT and move on.
Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real and some would say that fear is from the devil. Bible says says that “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 2:7 So when you are scared, it isn’t coming from God. I would argue that it comes from the Devil.
(Yes, I just swore and then quoted the Bible. This is me in all my imperfections....)
I have so much that I want to get off my chest that I have been reflecting on… I hope you will continue to take this journey with me.
Tell me your thoughts – where do you draw the authentic/transparency line? How do you do this in your business? In your personal life? Or perhaps, why DON'T you do it more often? Is it because of the reason I have stated above? Sound off below. I would love to hear from you!