It’s human nature to accept those who share common interests and experiences with us. But what about those who chose the road less traveled? Or those who don’t buy into societal norms?
I was recently reminded how easily we devalue the gifts, talents, and experiences of others, often because we’re more comfortable with familiarity. According to Tony Robbins, the most common driver for why we do what we do, is the need for certainty. It’s one of the six human needs. It provides a sense of safety. It may feel too risky to explore other possibilities when the need for certainty is driving the decision. Therefore, we resist or reject the idea of change or something new.
In this experience, I was reminded to acknowledge the value in my experience to me first. As I embrace the power of my unique experiences, others will as well. And even though some may not, I accept that because there’s no need for me to seek their approval.
I’m grateful for that. That moment was my personal opportunity to reconnect, realign and reaffirm with my life’s work. I entered this world with a designated path and unique qualities. So did you. It doesn't make me better or worse than you. It doesn't make you better or more worthy than me. It simply makes you who you are, and me who I am.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Feeling dismissed for being different is not a foreign feeling for me. I was often rejected by my peers as a teenager. I was raised in the same home as my siblings, yet we view the world very differently. However, my family loved and embraced me even when I wasn't sure how to accept myself – when my peers weren’t as compassionate.
Even now, I feel different from my peers - because I am different. My resume doesn’t reflect a traditional path and my leadership experience is unique to me.
These differences though are meant to be because they create opportunity to grow. I celebrate the journey, power, and purpose of my peers. There is no need to compete or compare. We each come with our own unique history, perspectives, and life experiences. Sometimes we have shared values. Sometimes we don’t. The beauty of this is that with a healthy dose of curiosity and powerful acceptance, we can all co-create a beautiful future of peace, wellness, joy, and fulfillment.
It took years, but I have learned to accept my ME-ness. My strengths of empathy, connection, and ideation are often overlooked, misunderstood, perceived as weaknesses, and are not considered leadership qualities at first glance.
But I affirm that my presence matters and my strengths allow me to have the capacity to create emotional safety for leaders who need a soft space to land without judgment. That is meaningful and impactful.
Your YOU-ness matters as well.
The possibilities are infinite as to how your differences shape the world. I invite you to acknowledge your unique qualities as your special gift to the world and embrace that those qualities allow you to serve in a way that no one else can. And here’s how:
Create a brag list. Celebrate your wins…even those you consider small. Acknowledge the ways your wealth of experience has added value for others. Consider your entire life experience, not just professional experience. Highlight pivotal moments that were challenges, transformational awakenings, triumphs, or a combination of them all. You’ll find treasures within these moments to remind you of who you are and your personal / professional impact.
Self-acceptance. Release the need to accommodate other’s discomfort to edit who you are to adapt, adjust or play small. Instead, embrace it. It’s your own special sauce. Offer that same energy of acceptance to those around you. Accept them for who they are. Radical acceptance is liberating!
Avoid competing or comparing. Comparison is the thief of joy. Know that you have a right to take up space in the world just as you are.
Notice and name your judgement. We all have an internal judge. We judge in three ways: we judge others, circumstances, and ourselves. Pause whenever you find yourself being highly critical of circumstances or choices that you don’t understand, including your own. Acknowledge your judgement and make a new choice. Otherwise, your inner critic will sabotage your path forward.
Seek wisdom. Use this time to be curious and reflective about the underlying message. What are you learning about yourself? Sometimes the difference you’re judging in others is mirroring a part of you that wants to be expressed. How can you leverage this wisdom to reframe your narrative and guide your next step in service of others?
Don’t make assumptions. Never assume that others know what you bring to the table. You have a right to advocate for yourself. Educate them. Help them see that you have what they need to close the gap. You have what someone else is praying for.
Seek to connect and better understand your differences. You don’t know what you don’t know. Explore ways to be of service to them. How might their difference add value to your experience? What’s possible when you look through a compassionate lens?
Create space on your calendar for reflection. What have you possibly overlooked or minimized because it comes to you with ease? Accept that others find value in those specific skills because it’s a point of stress for them. That is your gift and contribution to the world.
Here’s a few reflective prompts to guide you:
A strength that comes naturally to me is...
This strength was overlooked when...
I leverage my strengths when...
One way that my strength and experience has been of service to me...
One way that my experience has been of service to my family and community...
One way that my experience has contributed to the success of my team or organization...
Celebrate what you’ve accomplished. I am proud that...
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is You-er than You.” -Dr. Seuss
Embrace your YOU-ness!
Your well-being and your freedom lies within your decision to courageously stand in the power of the truest version of you.
Feel my heart when I say. “Your presence matters. You have permission to be different from me without losing my love or respect. I accept and embrace who you are, as you are.”
My name is Melanie Foote-Davis and I am The Fulfillment Coach for WeInspireWe. With over 20 years of experience in leadership, training and team development, I discovered that my desire to live and work in harmony was a driving force in my life and is central to my coaching. Through my attention to detail, ability to resolve conflict, reduce employee turnover and support retention, and build relationships, my clients walk away with a stronger connection to themselves and to the worlds they serve. If you are ready to step into a more conscious version of yourself, I’d be honored to guide and support your journey. I invite you to schedule a call with me.