Yesterday I spoke on a panel to some 450 women attending a leadership event put on by CWNC Organization with the theme of Reinventing Yourself. I had one goal in mind: To inspire at least one woman in the audience to take a leap of faith and trust into her own self and to stop seeking approval and guidance from the world around her. Oh and there was this one non-negotiable rule about everything that came out of my mouth on the panel: “Farnoosh, you gotta be 100% honest and transparent!”
Being honest with yourself is not so common as it turns out we are blatant liars. Just listen to that inner dialogue without filtering for once.
My turning point not just in my career but in my life came when I got uncomfortably honest with myself. In other words, when I was telling all the truth. Ahem!
It does not matter that I did not do anything about it for a little while. I had taken that first step. I had stopped lying and started telling the truth to myself – not to the outside world, forget them for a minute please – but to YOURSELF!! I did absolutely nothing about all that honesty and clarity until years later when I had what I called my final “snap point”, and as our keynote speaker so beautifully put it, that’s because my courage had not yet caught up with the rest of me.
On the panel, I talked about my story of rising to a corporate darling and finding nothing but misery and emptiness waiting for me there. Then I looked these beautiful people in the eye and told them in raw honesty how I found my way back to me again. Or maybe not again but for the first time.
Do you know what it’s like to have that inner dialogue with your ego, to give up the pursuit of the only thing that you thought would make you “successful” after all the years of investment and sacrifice? Not a pretty day, yet it liberates you from the sham and drudgery of lying to your beautiful soul. I say that’s worth it.
So what if I didn’t want to become a Senior Vice President at a Fortune 500 company anymore? So what if I didn’t want to be a Corporate hotshot anymore? It was all so absurd anyway now that I have clarity and grounding in my life. It was so far removed from my true essence that it is now laughable. I mean quite literally; I laugh out loud at my stupidity and naivetÃ© at least once a day!
In those first moments of allowing the honesty and letting your heart whisper, “Honey, this nonsense isn’t for you! It’s OK. You can start over. Enough betraying your heart!”, it’s all you can do to keep breathing and not hyperventilate.
This stuff is not easy, but let me tell you a secret: Easy plain sucks. Easy is over-rated. Easy for the lazy part of you that you need to eradicate. Easy gives your soul a virus. Easy is the pits. Easy is the road to misery. You need to forget about easy versus hard and stop whining about it.
Your job, after you get honest with yourself, is to ask how and start figuring it out one step at a time. If you get discouraged, listen to the maestro of it all, my hero at conquering life and laughing at it in the face with the success he has achieved. Mr. Stephen King and his fantastic work “On Writing”. Get it on audio!
Honesty comes with other issues too. Honesty brings you face to face with some ugly resistance first. I could not separate my identity from the corporate dream; I am my job, I am my career, I am my company. I am meant to go down this path. I am not meant to go down the path of uncertainty. Complete resistance. So stop resisting. Yes, that’s as simple as it is. I am not trying to be cute or clever. Just stop resisting. Have you even tried? Stop resisting and go with the flow of that honesty. You won’t die, I promise!
There is a good side to honesty, and this might comfort you.
Changing what you know to be the only “truth” to listen to your soul is terrifying, and that’s all you want to focus on because your mind wants you to resist the change, but if you pay attention, in all that fear and commotion, you will feel a little peace.
I could feel this quiet place that was starting to emerge in all this unknown when I first had an honest conversation with moi. I imagined there was a tiny version of me pushing out this enormous ugly monster , the ‘corporate dream’, out the door, maybe even off the edge of a cliff. And I was finally rooting for little me!
In the end of your life, whoever you are, you won’t give a damn anymore anyway and then you will be utterly honest with yourself. Why not start sooner and actually do something about the divine message of honesty?
Honesty liberates you from your rules. It lifts heavy ugly weight off your shoulders and maybe in that weight, you also store some good stuff, that’s OK. Let them come off. Maybe you stored your security and comfort and predictable days and weeks and schedules. Let them go. Maybe you told yourself that life is supposed to be this way – miserable at times so you can be happy at other times – and you married that theory in a match made in hell. Let that go too.
In those honest dialogues when you are really scared, truly vulnerable, and even clueless in some ways, you will know that you are willing to start over if only it means to stop the lying – I know I did.
So, are you being honest with yourself? How honest – all the way?
What do you want in life? What do you want to be, do, have? And what, if anything, are you doing about it?
Leave those honest thoughts in the comments and let’s start a conversation.