Three weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook business page astory that I felt vulnerable to share. I had decided that I had a platform and I wanted to share it, because even if my story helped or comforted one other women who had shared the experience, then it was worth it. I have also been raising money over this period, for a charity that supports women and families who have shared this life experience.

 

I write in the post, that I wanted to share my story because I know so many women have not felt able to. I recognise that if we continue to hide our experiences, then we will continue to undervalue the importance and impact of these experiences; and we lose the opportunity to learn from them. It also means that our culture never acknowledges the significant impact they can have and it never learns how to respond to them when the situation arises again.

 

As the #metoo stories have proven; when stories are shared, we no longer feel alone and we can shine a light on shadow side of our existence and when we do that then real changes can made to address these challenges within society.

 

Despite my network on LinkedIn, being bigger than Facebook or Instagram, I didn’t share the story to LinkedIn; but over the last 3 weeks I have started to ask myself, why? Why am I not comfortable to share a personal story with this network? Why do I see LinkedIn not as a place to share a true story; an honest story that impacts women and men more often than we will ever acknowledge?

 

Why did I feel that I could not be truly authentic about my life on this platform?

 

So through this enquiry, I discovered that I didn’t want to share my experience on here, because I was holding the belief that the story would not be valued by “Business People”.  This story isn’t about “getting ahead” or “being better at my job” or “achieving great things”; and therefore would you give a shit? Would you want to hear a story that was emotional, sad even? Would you even take the time to read it?

 

I separated my LinkedIn network from my other networks and grouped you into the equivalent of a set of robots with limited capacity to empathise. I separated this community, from my other communities. I had de-humanised you. All 600+ of you. I became exclusive. I became a contributor to the dominant culture, of hiding emotions, focusing on one goal only, separating and compartmentalising people.

 

As a woman who has worked in HR for nearly 20 years, I can recognise the damage that this type of inherit behaviour creates. With very little effort; it contributes to isolation, mistrust, un balanced power structures, and limits opportunities. By underestimating the audience, I am limiting my opportunity to share and to potentially make a bigger difference by providing help to those who need it.

 

My story is a universal Story of Creation.

 

And in a business world, where we are looking for leaders who are real, authentic, open, curious and creative, I now stand in my vulnerability and share my story. Because this story is relevant. It is relevant to everyone who gets up every day and goes to a place where they are asked to contribute to something that is bigger than themselves.

 

It is relevant to Linkedin, because it is a human story, and workplaces need to recognise that is the power of human stories that they are there to support. We all need to be ready to listen to the sad stories and the happy stories; and be equipped to respond to them in an appropriate way. We as a business network and community can no longer continue to support and create this separation of work from life.

 

For so long, we have been conditioned to “keep your life” (your real life!) separate from work. To step into the office, put your armour on and just do your job. To leave any emotions at the door, and numb your way through the vast majority of your day.

 

In the days, when we were not asked to be “creators” “leaders” or “innovators” – then this may have been ok. But work is not that anymore; and business and the world needs people who feel, who have emotions and can use them – use them to be empowered, to motivate, to be passionate, to take up a challenge and/or take a risk. To be “turned on” by what they are doing. We need people with the skills to ride the rollercoaster of life whilst they create.

 

No longer does work and life run separately, and the faster we start to recognise and integrate these concepts, the better workplaces we will create and the more innovative the culture and outputs will become. Jeff Weiner CEO Linkedin, talks about creating Compassionate Leadership, but until we recognise that our lives require feeling and we can’t continue to turn up to work whilst numbing ourselves from parts of our lives, then how will we have compassion for others.

 

What you turn up to do, every day; what you can offer to those around you – is your life.

 

To be a leader is not to tell people what to do and how to do it, to be a leader today is to be honest, authentic, kind, and to demonstrate that you truly are a creator – you are empowered and take ownership of your life and your future. But even more than that Leaders today need to create an environment that allows everyone to know that too.

 

Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly, quotes a 2011 Harvard Business Review article that uses the metaphor of the snowball. The snowball starts to roll when a leader is willing to share and be vulnerable with his or her subordinates. The research showed that the act of vulnerability is predictably perceived as courageous by team members and inspires others to follow suit.

 

So I share my story, to fertilise the grounds of the courageous creator in you.

 

For I know in many metaphorical ways my story will be your story too.

 

The story was posted over 5 days, the same week that in different circumstance that I would have given birth to a child. You can read the full story here: http://infinitytherapies.com.au/index.php/a-story-of-creation/

 

How do you support others to be authentic at work?  Have you shared a vulnerable story? Where you surprised by the outcome?

 

I would love to hear about it.

Nicola