To Share or Not to Share?
Today’s post is the essay form of a recent speech I gave at a Toastmasters contest. Keep reading or watch the video below.
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To share or not to share?
How much to share?
To whom do you share?
Who cares if you share?
If you have ever fretted over sharing too much of yourself during a meeting, conversation or presentation, this one’s for you.
A Bit of Background
I grew up in a large middle eastern family and even though I’m 3rd generation the roots were strong.
If we had a family motto it would read:
Because the freely shared hugs & hummus were often accompanied by freely shared, and often misguided, life advice.
As a young girl I heard it all…
- Girls aren’t supposed to sweat
- If you want to be financially successful work isn’t fun
- And my personal favorite and the focus of this essay, “No one needs to know your business.”
While I trust that my family meant well, as an impressionable young women, who hadn’t yet formed her own beliefs, I accepted those family beliefs as truth.
So, throughout college and into the first part of my career, I sat on the sidelines, kept my head down, mouth shut and did my work.
After 10 years of that, I quit my life as an employee to explore entrepreneurship as a yoga, fitness and stress management consultant.
Suddenly, people literally needed to know my business.
That belief weighed me down
I’d go to networking events and ask questions of everyone else yet never talk about my business.
Then I’d wonder why no one ever hired me!
During presentations, holy cow did I bore people with my data points and PowerPoints.
Then I’d wonder why I never got invited back.
Wake Up Call
A year after leaving my corporate job, I got invited to speak at a conference in Boston, on the topic of managing stress. They offered to pay me.
As as result, I wanted to make a really good impression and prove that I was worthy of that payment. So, I spent a lot of time thinking about my visuals, the research and the activities.
Within minutes of starting, my mouth went dry, the audience slowly slumped in their chairs, a glazed look coated their eyes.
A woman’s hand shot up. She had a question.
“All this data is great, she said, “but can you share a story about how you manage your own stress?”
I froze. A bead of sweat formed on my forehead.
Oh Shoot…girls aren’t supposed to sweat.
Intuitively I knew sharing my story would be the right thing to do. I knew that the data and numbers and strategies only touched the surface of that problem. To really understand it required more depth of conversation and sharing.
Oh Shoot…no one needs to know your business. And certainly they don’t need to know your personal business.
Or do they?
Tuning in to MY voice
For the first time I trusted my intuition.
I took a deep breath, collected my thoughts and shared my story.
My body shook, my voice quivered and I truly thought the event organizers would ask for their money back.
Guess what happened?
We not only had an enriching and heart felt conversation about stress, 3 people approached me afterwards to share their story and some version of “I get it and I know what I need to do.”
The organization also hired me three more times to teach workshops at their corporate office just outside of DC.
You know what I learned?
People want to know your business.
Our stories provide hope and insight. We make sense of the world and create meaningful connection through shared experiences.
Of course, sharing these stories is vulnerable. In case you haven’t heard vulnerability is HARD.
Shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown says vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
And the dictionary defines vulnerability as
the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
OMG. With a definition like that why would anyone choose vulnerability?
I’ll tell you why: Because, and I write this from personalexperience, the alternative is lonely, frustrating and depleting.
It’s a life on the sidelines.
The bottom line
The good news is that you and me, we are in control over what to share, how much to share (don’t need to spill all the family secrets) and who we want to share it with.
Of course, not everyone will appreciate the sharing. And certainly there are people who don’t DESERVE know your business.
Should you or someone you know find yourself standing in the dichotomy of to share or not to share, know that people do care.
So shed the formalities & expectations and share.
I’ll bring the hummus.
Your turn to talk to me
- If your family had a motto what would it be?
- Do you like/make hummus?
- What’s the best or worst advice you ever got?
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About the blog
Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.
Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.
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