I have spent a lot of time crying over the last couple of weeks.
Immediately after the opening weekend of my Influencer Academy women’s leadership program, my husband and I tragically and unexpectedly lost someone close to us. And then, the next day, I embarked on my five-day storytelling challenge for speakers. During the challenge, I witnessed women from four continents telling stories, in many cases heartbreaking and simultaneously heart-opening stories, where they recounted overcoming poverty, abuse, the death of partners and children. These women told stories where they talked about how their journeys filled them with a desire and responsibility to be messengers for their big ideas.
In my wildest dreams I never imagined how transformative this challenge would be for me – and the women who said yes to it!
(If you want to experience some soul-stirring, gorgeous storytelling, jump on Facebook and use the hashtag #SpotlightStoryChallenge. And then prepare to have your mind blown and your heart stretched as you watch the challenge participants’ vulnerable Facebook Live performances!)
While I haven’t cried this deeply, this full-bodied in some time, the truth is… I cry a lot.
Truly, most environments are fair game.
Growing up I cried in ballet classes. After finishing races. While writing most of my essays.
I feel things deeply, always have.
And for a lot of my life I was told by teachers, friends and coworkers in one form or another to suck it up. Soldier on. Disconnect from my emotions.
But what I know is that my sensitivity is part of my ‘secret sauce.’ It allows me to tap into my audiences’ feelings, connect with my clients beyond the work, and to see the brilliance the people in my professional and personal life possess and have often been taught to bury (but once they have me in their corner are ready to excavate and share with the world).
My clients frequently tell me, “Lex, you care so much. It’s like whatever I’m going through, you go through it right alongside of me.”
While this can make turning off work and decompressing tricky, (I mean I spent an average of four hours per day last week watching videos during the challenge because I was so in awe of the women showing up for themselves and for our community – and that of course isn’t a sustainable long-term practice).
To be sure it’s vital to create boundaries between work and life, to get our needs met, and to cultivate powerful self-care rituals to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. I’m a perpetual student in this area!
And yet, while so many in the self-improvement world are looking for ways to show up less for their clients, I am unapologetic about my desire to show up more.
Thinking about my speakers like this allows me to provide an incomparable level of service to the people who hire me. And gives me a pathway for the authenticity and transparency I strive to demonstrate in my speaking.
For so many female speakers, the fear of crying on stage is almost as great (if not greater) than the fear of forgetting one’s words.
This breaks my heart, and I want to give you permission to be unapologetic about feeling anything and everything you are feeling. In your business. And certainly when sharing your message with your audience.
Genuine emotion does not undermine powerful speaking performance – it drives it.
To be sure, crying is just one way to communicate what we are feeling. Laughter and silence can be equally powerful when they are authentic.
What I want for you is to know that when you are truly present to an audience and emotion comes up for you, be present to it. Resist the temptation to shove it down, or worse, to apologize for it.
Let your emotion be a reminder to your audiences that to be truly alive and in our power we need to integrate our heads and our hearts – not create dichotomies between them.