Last February I had the opportunity to hear a keynote address from motivational speaker and life coach Mike Robbins. Mike is a regular contributor to Oprah Magazine and Huffington Post, and has written two bestselling books, Focus on the Good Stuff, and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken. His presentation was authentic and motivating, and pretty much everyone in the room left with copies of his books and a warm feeling in their heart.
You know how it is in those moments when you get completely inspired – everything is brighter in that instant and you know your life is forever going to be changed for the good. Then you get home, and you set the books down. Life picks up exactly where it left off and you forget. You forget how inspired you were. You forget how to change, how to be better. Heck – you even forget to read the books. Yep, that is exactly what happened.
So I haven’t read his books yet, but I do get his monthly newsletter, and the title of this month’s article really spoke to me: Vulnerable Leadership.
You see, my purpose is to share and encourage. I want to be a positive voice and a leader in living well with Fibromyalgia. But how can I do that when I have been feeling miserable since May? Since 1996 really! It is something I struggle with everyday. And it is the reason I am feeling vulnerable today.
I choose not to share the miserable stuff here. You know all too well about it. I would not be explaining or describing something you have not experienced many times yourself. But how do I balance the vulnerable me – the me that lives daily with the ever present and fluctuating symptoms of fibromyalgia – with the hopeful me – the one who embraces life as much as possible despite my constant fibromyalgia companion.
I don’t know. I do not have the answer. But in his article, Mike shared five key principles of vulnerable leadership, and that is where I am going to start.
1) Admit and own your mistakes
My mistakes are many! Daily even. Do you know I have been planning a relaunch of FibroHaven for months? It is still going to happen, and it is going to be really exciting when it does (great new features I know you are going to love), but as the creator, leader, and main cog of FibroHaven, I have dropped many balls.
Sure my health is partially to blame, but so is my procrastination, and my lack of follow through, and my frustrating tendency to sit back sometimes and let life come to me. It doesn’t, and it won’t. It is on me to make this happen. I chose FibroHaven. Nobody asked me to do this, but now that there is this wonderful community connected because of it, I need to follow through better – and I will.
2) Share your fear and insecurity
My fears are many too. Putting myself in the position to be a voice of positivity and change, I fear letting you all down by not changing quickly enough myself. I believe in a holistic approach to wellness, and I have been perusing that approach for a better part of a year, but I am nowhere near well. I fear this makes me a hypocrite and a fraud.
The thing that brings me back to share my philosophy is that I believe in my heart that I will get better. I will improve. I am on a wellness journey, not a crash course. And my hope is that by sharing it here with all of you, something I say may trigger a change in you. Something I experience may inspire you.
I have two purposes on this journey – get well, and encourage you to take your own wellness journey. But there are moments when I feel like “Who the hell am I to encourage someone else when I have so little to offer myself today.” I like it when those moments pass. And fortunately they always do.
3) Don’t take yourself too seriously
This one is pretty easy for me. My sense of humor is my lifeline, my core, my compass. Laughter really is the best medicine, and I am usually the first to laugh at myself. I can share funny and embarrassing things about myself here (and I have) because it is real, and that is life.
Remind me to tell you about the day I ended up ankle deep in wet cement because I thought the construction guys were coming on to me – not yelling to warn me about the wet sidewalk they had just laid. That ended well.
4) Share your own process, journey, and challenges
That is exactly what this blog is – my shared journey. Good to know I am doing this right!
5) Ask for and receive help from others
Oh this is a tough one for me. Now I will be the first to advise you to do this for yourself, but to put it in practice in my own life – that is so hard for me. Again, refer back to my often feeling like a hypocrite. It is for reasons like this.
Do as I say not as I do, right? Wrong! I really need to work on this for myself. There are so many areas where I could use help just with FibroHaven. Who knows, maybe if I were not so stubborn and short-sighted I could have launched the new site by now. I don’t know. All I know for sure is that I am flawed. I have a lot of work to do on myself. And sometimes this makes me reluctant to get on here and advise and encourage you.
But please know this, that everything I share on here, I share because I care. I know how dark this chronically ill life can seem at times. I know how isolating it can be. My hope is to shine a tiny little light, and maybe start a conversation or two.
One of my greatest moments came the other day when two people I met through FibroHaven became friends because of FibroHaven. One lives in California, the other in Virginia. Their paths may have never crossed were it not for FibroHaven. That is it. That is what it is all about for me. And that is what keeps me going on the days when I feel like no one should look to me for advice and support.
There is a reason for all of this. Maybe I am meant to fail and flounder. Maybe that makes me more real. I don’t know. But I do know that I love this community. It gives me courage and reinforces my hope.
And there it is. My vulnerable side…