Peeling Back the Layers – Make your Mark on the World

There is nothing more scary than putting yourself “out there.” We all feel a little fear whenever there’s something new to face in our lives. The butterflies are a good indicator that we’re stepping outside our comfort zone — or maybe we’re just looking at the edges of the zone, and holding ourselves back, for fear of what’s on the other side.

As a teenager, I remember my mom encouraging my brother and I to take “Healthy Risks.” I laugh as I write that because, my idea of healthy risks and those of my mom are vastly different.

Yesterday, I attended an event locally for the Economic Development Council. I joined as a member last year, because I believe we have to invest in the areas we want to see grow. We cannot just stand on the sidelines and hope we can will things into place.

In the meeting, the director announced that the LEDC was starting a blog. And, he added that “we are ready to be vulnerable, and start the conversation.” This sent excitement into my veins. I was thrilled to see them making this step, and I posted my support via Facebook —

What I didn’t expect (but probably should have) was the reaction from some members of the Lakeland community. Less than 5 hours after the post was shared on their website, the brutal comments and pessimistic responses that are so common in our society were there. I don’t begrudge the concerns that were shared. I acknowledge that I too crave transparency and an open dialogue in which all parties have an opportunity to voice their concerns. I didn’t take the post down, or sacrifice my position on the issues being addressed.

And yet, the conversation starts now. The past isn’t what matters. The important emphasis is on making progress. A lesson we all can learn from.

The commentary and dialogue that followed is not the point of this post. What I wanted to share with you here is the importance of taking the steps toward doing that “scary thing” and, understanding the purpose behind it — even if someone might have something negative to say about it.

Especially if someone might have something negative to say! Because that, my friends, is where progress lives. In doing the “scary thing” and living to tell the story, and in continuing to persevere, and build the trust that is so needed today. 

My mom encouraged me to take positive, healthy risks. And, even though she, by nature was not a big risk-taker, she understood the importance of taking risk in order to grow which brought me back to one of my favorite quotes by Anais Nin:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud became greater than the risk it took to blossom.

My greatest hope for you, the reader is not that you throw caution to the wind, and abandon all that you stand for or believe, but instead that you will begin to look at the places you’re holding back, and start — even if it’s a slow start — peeling back the layers and sticking your toe in the water. Allow yourself to be vulnerable — in the name of progress. Writing a blog is a scary venture. I haven’t thought about much else in the last 30 days — but when you begin to understand the importance of it, for communicating your message, managing your reputation, establishing trust, eliminating questions, and building your personal brand, you begin to see the rewards outweigh the risks!

When I began my own journey, I carried a lot of baggage. I believe this experience revealed the LEDC has some as well, (along with everyone else in the world) — no one is perfect, and everyone is human. So, whether or not you dream of sharing your story — I do believe your story is worth telling — as a dad, as a mom, as a grandmother or as a person who is trying to build a business, or take their brand to a whole new level — I want to shine the light into that space and encourage you to peel back the layers, and consider “What if?”

Everyone has a story to tell, and as the long and winding road begins to reveal that everyone — even 30 year veteran leaders — are vulnerable, I am hoping that someday, (soon) there’s a moment you might realize that it’s your turn to take that step.

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