Six years ago, I had the first of three surgeries to remove a benign brain tumor. At that moment I also started down a path to understand myself better—and claim the strength I had to affect major change in my life. You have that power too. I blogged about it recently.
Over the next few weeks I'll impart lessons from my experience. With them will be actionable steps for making your own changes. I'm talking big stuff, and also all of the subtle things it takes, like changing your mindset.
So what are we waiting for?
How my brain tumor will change your life, Part 1 :: Be vulnerable.
When you are real, others get to be that way too.
At an event for entrepreneurs recently I talked about my brain tumor. Strange venue, but it was to make a point. When you are real with your customers—telling them something important about yourself and your business—it imparts loyalty. You're then a human being, just like them. In relating to you, they're then in relationship with you.
That connection is what makes consumers into lifelong, loyal customers.
By "Be vulnerable" I mean to be real with the people around you.
During my surgeries I didn't have much of a choice. I didn't have the extra energy required to be what people wanted me to be; to watch my words and actions for fear of being judged.
Being forced to be myself had a great benefit. I paved the way for the people in my life to be real in return. By going first, I showed them it was safe—wrinkles and all they still loved me, so I would love them too.
Being human is a gift you can give yourself and the people you care about. Try it and see what I mean:
- Next time you're asked – What's new? – tell the truth. It doesn't have to be a sob story, it just needs to be from the heart. How about: "I'm successful and yet something is missing. I don't want to tell myself that nothing's wrong anymore. I want more from my life and it starts now."
- Say what you need. People aren't used to the truth and may react strongly to your honesty. Many times those reactions are about them and not about you at all. They're responding from their own fears, desires, viewed limitations, and not necessarily to the words you're saying. It will help everyone, then, if you follow up the truth with what you're needing right now. For instance: "Expressing this stuff is new for me and I'd love an ear as I work it out. I know the answer is within me and it helps to talk it through. Will you listen? I trust you."
- Really listen in return. At some point the conversation will turn back to the other person. You may be surprised how willing they are to share back, perhaps slowly at first. Here's your chance to give them what you wanted: a friendly ear, the space to figure out what's happening in their lives and what they want.
All of this is possible because you took the first step to be real with the people you care about, in the process allowing them to do the same. To experience what it's like to be listened to and to learn how to do that for someone else.
Someone has to go first. I know you can do it. You and your loved ones will be changed because of your trailblazing truth-telling.
I would love to hear about your experiences with being real. What you've learned and how best to do it. Please feel free to comment, or email me.