Authenticity, power and just saying it how it is

Do you say it how it is or find yourself shape-shifting and giving your power away by playing nice or avoiding the really tough conversations?

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It's not until my forties that I've fully appreciated the value of straight talking with heart.

The best developmental feedback I was given was after I'd done an exercise in a leadership development programme. The programme co-leader (who I really admired) told me that I had an apologetic energy about me. As she said it I felt a mixture of emotions flood over me. A part of me was furious (I mean me, apologetic!) Yet another part of me felt challenged in a way that made me sit upright. I hated the idea that I might be perceived as apologetic and I also knew that what she was saying was true. I could see how I could be perceived in that way.

I loved her for that feedback and the fact that she ran a hugely successful international coaching organisation gave me an insight as to how she had built her business by being true to herself. It was one of those moments that made me look at myself and accept the conditioning that had me think it was better to play nice or hold back for fear of reprisal.

That leadership programme changed my life because it changed me. It showed me how I was choosing to be passive and superficial at times when I should trust my intuition and name what I see. You see up until then, I would be in situations where I'd think that someone couldn't handle my truth and instead of sharing it, I held it back. It cost me dearly because I always ended up feeling frustrated (particularly at work).

Recently I was facilitating a senior team and a couple of people in the team described being in it as "weird". As we rolled up our sleeves and started to get really curious about what "weird" really meant in this context, they started to share the impact they had on each other. They spoke their truths about their reality at work and something quite special happened. Instead of blame and defensiveness, understanding, acceptance and connection happened. Assumptions got explored and they could see how it was the holding back and blame that was making it feel weird. They'd been pretending and acting as if it was fine when really it wasn't.

Whether it's at work, at home or with friends, the ability to share your truth with an open and loving heart is incredibly important. It's what keeps us in our power instead of falling into defensive ways of being. And there are some things that I've found really help with this.

1. Stay out of judgment. When we're in judgment about someone or something, it's not a resourceful place to speak from.
2. Be really curious with yourself and others about what's going on. It will keep the connection light and flexible.
3. Own your experience. Don't flower it or dress it up.
4. Keep your heart open.
5. Be clear on your intention, make sure it's coming from a good place and keep coming back to it.

Vanessa Anstee

Life Coach

I'm inspired by who you can be without apology and I want to help you let your real self shine. I've been a life coach for 10 years. I've always been a seeker trying to discover a way of being in life that feels soulful, authentic and aligned to what my heart wants not what my head thinks I should have, be or do. I spent 20+ year career in HR, OD, talent management and executive coaching. My kids were my biggest wake up. I saw the way I was working wasn't working anymore. I couldn't keep pushing myself harder. I had to accept I couldn't attain this perfected version of myself that I had strived most of my life to achieve. I had to find love not from accolades and other people's acceptance but from deep inside me. That's when I learnt to connect to my heart, heal my childhood wounds and fears of never being enough and set light to my passion in a completely new way. I want one thing for my clients. Be real. Be themselves, fall madly in love with that person and honour their soul's calling.


Go to the profile of Cat Knott
about 7 years ago
Hi Vanessa, I loved this blog. Thanks so much.
Finding the courage to share our authentic self with everyone is such a powerful choice to take that, like you say, can completely turn around how you feel in the world, and our relationships with the people around us. Its a real shame that most of us find it so hard to be who we really are, I bet most of us have found that it's take us most of our lives to be brave enough to just make this one seemingly small choice that makes such a massive difference - as I've just turned 40 myself, I know that its taken me most of my 30s to finally bed down exactly where that authenticity lies and be comfortable in it everyday. Who knows where I'll be at 50?! I'm looking forward to finding out.
Go to the profile of Vanessa Anstee
about 7 years ago
Hey Cat I love the idea of looking forward to 50 and that awesome crone wisdom developing - great shout. Congratulations on turning 40 and am excited for where your authenticity and aliveness takes you in this decade. Thanks for taking the time to comment - really appreciated.