It’s a busy time. As I sit down to write, I’m in between two big workshops in the Netherlands. We just completed the five-day “Transformational Presence Leadership and Coaching” (TPLC) program with 25 inspiring and committed participants from Holland, Belgium, and the UK. In the next few days, 17 participants will travel from across Holland and Belgium, as well as from Poland and South Africa, to join us for the four-day “Soul Mission * Life Vision” workshop. While these two programs are very different from one another, there is a thread that ties them together. Both programs attract people who want to make a difference, and they want to know how to do that in the best possible way.

Truly making a difference in the world starts with your relationship to yourself – who you are, why you are here, and your willingness to let yourself be fully seen as someone who has something to offer. Making a difference for others means claiming your own gifts and talents, taking a stand for what you believe in, and living into your purpose and potential. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stand on a grand stage or be seen by thousands of people. Yet it does mean that you must allow yourself to be seen for what you have to offer by the people to whom you want to offer it.

Poet E. E. Cummings wrote:

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that something deep inside us
is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder,
spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

There is great truth in Cummings’ words. Acknowledgment from others of who we are and what we offer – our gifts, talents, and accomplishments – can help build our confidence and self-esteem. The more others notice the value within us, the easier it becomes to share our gifts. Their belief in us helps us find the strength and courage to step out into the world, be seen, and make our contribution.

Yet there is a catch. If we are not willing to be seen and to believe in ourselves, we make it difficult for others to acknowledge the value they see in us.

In the late 1990s, when I had finished writing my first book, Intuitive Living, I began looking for a publisher. An acquaintance put me in touch with a respected New York agent, and the agent loved the book. So he began the search for the right publisher. Making a long story short, a year and more than fifty rejection letters later, I realized that I was waiting for someone else to take my work out into the world. I was waiting for someone else to tell me it was good enough – that I was good enough – and then do whatever it would take to put me, and my message, out there. In the meantime, I was teaching classes and workshops in the comfortable safety of my New York City living room.

My agent really believed in the book; I sort of believed in it. At times, it seemed like he wanted the book to be published more than I did. That wasn’t actually true, yet I wasn’t making myself visible beyond my close circle of students and friends. I wasn’t yet taking responsibility for my own work in the world.

Self-publishing was a very new thing in the late 1990s, and it was still often considered “vanity” publishing. Unlike today, when self-publishing has become not just accepted, but even encouraged for both new and established authors, twenty years ago there were very few support systems to help you with this endeavor. The learning curve was steep and the time and financial investment was significant. Yet I knew that this was the path I needed to take. I knew that I had to believe in my work and be willing to take it to the world myself if I expected anyone else to take me seriously.

So I borrowed $10,000 from the bank and set out to become a published author. Through the process, I not only learned a lot about the publishing industry; I also put a stake in the ground for my own work. I took ownership for the message I felt called to bring to the world. It was challenging, frustrating, and, it was hard work. And it set in motion the trajectory that has led to where I am and the work I am doing now.

Taking personal responsibility for putting my work out into the world changed everything. Three years later and 2500 books sold, a publisher called with an offer to buy that first book. A few months after that, before the new edition went to print, the publishing company was sold. The new publisher asked me for a meeting. She was very excited about my first book with her new company and already wanted to talk with me about a second book. I was on my way.

Allowing yourself to be seen in the fullness of who you are – your true, authentic, real, human self – can feel vulnerable and scary. Yet taking that step and putting yourself and your message out there is the only way to grow your belief in yourself. Of course, it helps when others believe in you – when they see and acknowledge your value. Yet in the end, true belief in yourself only grows by you being willing to see and acknowledge your own value, putting your stake in the ground, and doing what you are here to do.

 

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