Expose Yourself

By Carolyn Campbell, MA, CPPC

Expose your Self. Expose your gift. Expose your vulnerability. Expose your expertise. 

So simple and yet so challenging.

Many people ask me to help them do this very thing in their business, their leadership, and their life. I adore the moment they come into a session and say, “Wow, I had no idea that it would feel this good, and be so powerful, being fully me.”

As a coach, I know this is true. And, as someone who also has doubts and vulnerability, I know just how challenging it is to truly expose yourself and your gift. If you are ready to let yourself, your vision, and your leadership be seen, check out this amazing passage by Martha Graham. Martha was the first dancer ever to perform at the White House, travel abroad as a cultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the USA: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

Keep the channel open.

In these few short lines, she captures the vital intention and necessary actions that guide impassioned, purposeful leaders. When clients read this, it can take time to let the full scope of her message sink in. Discussion often ripples for days as they peel back the layers of her message and their vision.

First and foremost, she believes that each one of us has a distinctively unique and essential key to help the world (on an intimate family scale or a large global scale) navigate and transform life. It might be in the way you innovate, or design, or create a collaborative team, or the way you listen so that people feel fully heard.

She goes on to say that if you dismiss your gift, deny it, or chide it, it will never exist. It truly saddens me to witness people stop creating before they’ve actually begin. Anxiety about whether their work is ‘good enough,’ or ‘bright enough,’ or ‘normal enough’ hijacks their ability to begin sharing themselves and their work with others. If you are the world’s best kept secret, your vision will never be more than a whisper. This year, one of my clients catapulted her work into the national spotlight, simply by telling more people about what she does. What might be different if you shared your gift or your point of view with people who might benefit? 

Martha continues, “It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions.” Yeess, that’s a big one. One suggestion to overcome this hurdle: put on comparison blinders. Instead of looking to see what others are doing and falling into the rabbit hole of self-judgment, don’t even pay attention to what others are doing – just focus on making what you do fabulous. By doing so you can focus on your vision, without being bombarded by the comparison court.

The sentence, “You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work” confounds just about everyone. And yet, I’ve found that so many successful visionaries, leaders, and entrepreneurs first had to go through a stage or stages of self-doubt. But they kept pursuing their path because they were called to do so. Without a doubt, it is such an odd feeling to be pulled in a direction that makes little intellectual sense. You have to reorient your faith to trust a more visceral, core knowing. My question for you: what would it be like to stop believing (which is a mental construct), and instead trust (which demands far more faith in something larger than ourselves)?

And then she even gives us a how-to: “You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.” In a world that is pushing us from all sides, this can be just about the most difficult thing to do. 

And finally, she is so right on when she says, “There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” My beckoning in these times. Keep the channel open. Listen. Act. And Re-Act. Expose the best gift the world can have: you and your art. For there truly is just one of you. And if you don’t share your wisdom, the world won’t benefit from the gift that only you can bring forth.