A Direct Flight: Your Best Route to More Connection & Influence
I have a massive confession to make.
Quite honestly, I’m embarrassed to go there, but in line with my desire for transparency and vulnerability, it’s hopeless and there’s no turning back.
In my own struggle with low self-worth and insecurity throughout the years, I’ve damn near died trying to be impressive—to be liked. I’ve pitted myself against “everyone” (which in reality, is a collective of probably six people in the world) in a hard effort to show up and be seen. I desperately want you to accept me and deem me worthy to enter those sparkly rooms you hold the key for.
This has taken many different shapes throughout the last three-plus decades: an eating disorder, good grades, perfectionism, unhealthy relationships, a music career, a graduate degree, a blog, shiny social media boxes, and the list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, most of these pursuits started off clean—based in desire. However, if I’m totally honest, some got a little muddied by an unrelenting need to be seen. Not only that but to be seen as clever.
Guess what? It’s an exhausting, isolating way to live. Also, it doesn’t work. Period.
It’s kind of like landing thirty minutes late at the Atlanta airport, hustling and schlepping to make the connecting flight only to show up at the gate to be met by a very perky flight attendant with red lipstick and coiffed hair who politely informs you “I’m sorry, you’re just too late. The plane left ten minutes ago.”
Damn. Now you’ve got a couple of options; you can either bury your face in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or a pint of Stella Artois... Pick your poison.
Guess what? We all have a deep need and desire to be seen. We were created to succeed and thrive in our own unique ways. However, what I’ve found the hard way is that there is a better, more effortless way to arrive. Take a deep breath and a load off; you don’t have to be so impressive.
Your ticket on this direct, first-class flight is called radical empathy.
Radical empathy is the choice to practice empathy relentlessly and continuously in our everyday interactions with people.
Brené Brown asserts that “Empathy and shame are on opposite ends of a continuum. Shame results in fear, blame (of self or others), and disconnection. Empathy is cultivated by courage, compassion, and connection, and is the most powerful antidote to shame."
We don’t get there by being interesting; we get there by being interested. We don’t get there by performing; we get there by listening. We don’t get there by striving; we get there by softening.
Last night I hosted ten incredibly courageous and beautiful women at a monthly gathering I’ve just started called The Bloom Groups. For the most part, these women were strangers.
They came from different cities, different cultures, different stories, yet all were there because they wanted the same thing: connection.
We did an exercise where we sat on the floor with a massive piece of paper and a bunch of magic markers to share. The instructions were to each draw a painful experience had before the age of 18 and enclose it in some type of container (box, circle, heart).
We went to town like ants in a dirt pile.
Ten minutes later, everyone’s picture was completed, almost. We went around the circle and told a brief synopsis of the story behind the picture. Tears streamed. Some F-bombs dropped.
The last piece of the exercise was for each one to draw a line from their container to any of the other containers or stories they related to.
Guess what? Every single one of us connected to parts of each other’s stories. We were all connected by the collective pain of our stories. The picture was now complete, and it was powerful beyond words.
After just two hours, ten strangers had experienced what it truly means to see one another, and in doing so, had practiced radical empathy by also seeing themselves in each other’s stories.
Every day I’m learning just how desperately people long to be seen rather than impressed. Sure, it’s important to use our gifts and talents to bring value to the world and lives around us, but this should never be fueled by the fear of insecurity, but instead by the desire for connection.
You are indeed wired for success and influence. I need to see you soar because it inspires the greatness in me. I’ve got some really good news for you as well; you can drop the act. You don’t have to work so hard. There is no missing hardware. You’ve got everything you need.
Believe me, there’s no room for scarcity where we’re going. Once you get there, you’ve officially arrived.
It’s time to start seeing the one in front of you; the one you may feel the need to win over. Look for the beauty and mystery in her eyes. There’s a fascinating story in there. Chances are, you may even know that story by heart.
Love & Gratitude,