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Wednesday Wisdom – Embrace Who You Are

The actress Sharon Stone made a powerful acceptance speech in late 2019 when awarded the GQ Woman of the Year award, in which she shared the personal challenges faced when a certain scene in the 1992 film, Basic Instinct, became the means via which others defined her. 

Her message is honest, clear and vital:  decide who you are, embrace it and live it – now.[1]

What struck me about this beautiful woman’s speech – as it has done many times when engaging with others in the world of work, particularly women – is how easily we succumb to the harsh demand to leave so much of our uniqueness at home when suiting up for our professional and business lives. 

How quickly and without question we pack away our personal tenderness, grace and empathy; essentially denying ourselves access to self-respect, full personhood and dignity, in order to ‘fit in’ with what is required.

Although it is appropriate for there to be certain rules to which one must adhere when operating in the working world, and while many of these rules hold tremendous value; we are often trapped in the damaging belief that we have to be someone or something else in order to attain recognition, acceptance and success.

Furthermore, any long-term denial of choosing to work in a manner that does not resonate with who we are at our core becomes downright dangerous.  Things break; mostly our confidence and self-belief.  And we can become lost.

There are many ways in which a moment in time can change lives, stretching from moments of trauma through to moments of elation and celebration.  But possibly the most significant of all is that so-called ‘ah-ha moment’: the moment when all the dots are joined and the threads line up. It is this moment that culminates in the realisation that we can only live and work our best life when we consciously choose to do so in line with who we are. 

When we are living in alignment, we enable others to do the same.  And oddly enough, when surrounded by this kind of personal honesty, trust grows; connectivity expands; relationships tend to flourish; long-term investments are more readily made, and ultimately everyone profits. 

Sharon Stone made a decision to respect the acting choice she made all those years back, rather than to cringe away from it.  She did not to allow herself to become beaten down by the critics, but rather actively and positively engaged with the consequences without losing herself to the demand and or temptation to do what others may have insisted was ‘right’. 

And in receiving the Woman of the Year award all these years later, she made no excuses about continuing to lean into and step up to what she stands for. 

While some will consider the 27 years between 1992 and 2019 to be far too long a time to ‘wait’ for the positive acknowledgement of living one’s truth that she did, those who live in this manner seldom seek such public recognition. 

The success of their life’s journey is not determined by the measurement tools applied by others, but rather by knowing that they are living in alignment with what lies within their hearts. 

Perhaps another illustration of the power vested in self-truth is the leadership of the late President Nelson Mandela, who came to govern at a similar time as when the scene referred to above first rolled out.  It is not surprising that his global success is said to have been rooted in the journey into his soul through 27 years of imprisonment.

Significantly, it is reported that he never deviated from who he was in his heart, irrespective of the harshness of the world around him.

And so, the impact of living in alignment with one’s self is profoundly demonstrated.


[1] Follow this link for the full clip:

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