What do Carla Harris, Shonda Rhines, Shawn Achor, Brené Brown, and Michelle Obama have in common?
They were all keynote speakers at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women and they were ALL fabulous and inspiring!
I was lucky enough to be there on Tuesday, along with 12,000 other women (and maybe a handful of courageous men!). Apparently, it is the largest conference for women in the US.
I got a key take-away message from each of the keynotes that resonated with me deeply.
From Carla Harris (wall street banker, motivational speaker, gospel singer, and author of Expect to Win):
Know That You Know That You Know
Out of many great points, this was the one that stuck out for me. That is own your own value; trust your knowledge and experience. As women, many of us tend to question our own worth – it’s the imposter syndrome, or “feeling like a fraud.” I am aware that I am prone to this if I’m not mindful, and these simple words really resonated. It feels like a deep knowing and trusting of yourself.
Relating this to the BodyIntelligence principle of mind-body unity, there’s a physical expression – a certain, recognizable body language – that goes hand in hand with having a deep trust in your own abilities and worth. It’s expansive and open, and is perceived as confidence, both by others and yourself.
From Shonda Rhines (executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder, and author of Year of Yes):
Rename Your Fears
This is important. We hear the words we use – both out loud and to ourselves. Shonda’s point was that how we name something dictates how we deal with it. She has never named anything as an obstacle – rather a reality or “how things are,” which enabled her to deal with it (e.g. being the only black woman producer was a reality rather than an obstacle) or renaming her fear of public speaking (she is an introvert like me) as an opportunity – an opportunity to practice courage. The more you summon the courage to do what you fear, the easier it becomes.
Fear is a huge factor in how we feel, move and appear to others. Fear can even start with just a thought, which we often repeat over and over to ourselves, making the fear even bigger. I love Shonda’s idea of renaming or reframing your fears. I talk to my clients about reframing nerves as excitement. A little tweak like that can make a huge difference in how we feel.
From Shawn Achor (best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness, and leading expert on the connection between happiness and success):
Smiles are Powerful – Use Often!
Shawn Achor’s talk on happiness and joy – rather than pleasure – included an experiment. If you have someone near you, try it now. One of you is A and the other is B. A must not let her face show any reaction. Look each other in the eyes. B is to smile at A while looking in her eyes for 7 seconds. You can then switch it, and try the other way around. Out of a hall of nearly 12,000 women, only a handful managed to keep a straight face. Smiling is contagious, especially when you’re making eye contact. Smiling improves our mood. As Shawn Achor says, when the human brain is positive every single business and human outcome improves. Powerful stuff!
If you get a chance, I highly recommend you watch his entertaining and informative TED talk – The happy secret to better work.
I am reminded of Marjorie Barstow (she was a famous first-generation Alexander Technique teacher) who said, “You always move better with a smile.” It’s true! Our whole functioning as a human being improves when we smile.
From Brené Brown (research professor at the University of Houston and best-selling author of The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and her latest book, Braving the Wilderness):
Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart
Brené gave four practices for true belonging – defined by her like this, “True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” The fourth practice is to walk through the world with a strong back, a soft front, and a wild heart. This spoke to me deeply – physically, intellectually and emotionally. It speaks to knowing who you are and the values you hold dear, and owning this unapologetically (strong back); it speaks to being open, compassionate and vulnerable (soft front); and it speaks to being courageous in the face of fear, following your passions, and letting yourself feel things deeply (wild heart).
This is what I got from the talk. I just got her new book, Braving the Wilderness, which will, I’m sure give me a deeper understanding. (We’re reading this in the BodyIntelligence Book Club – if you’re interested in reading along or joining us, let me know!)
If you’re not familiar with Brené Brown, check out her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability.” It is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world!
In my work, we use thoughts – self-directions – to help us move through life with greater ease and confidence. “Strong back, soft front, wild heart” ticks all the boxes of helpful ideas. And even though I love it exactly as Brené expressed it, I’m finding myself sometimes modifying the words to put them in a structure I find very effective. So here are three thoughts you can also explore: “I am free to notice my strong back,” “I am free to notice my soft front,” and “I am free to notice my wild heart.”
From Michelle Obama (who needs no introduction!):
Invest in Yourself
Michelle Obama had many pearls of wisdom to share, but this one stood out for me. She was talking about how she works out every morning (at 5 a.m. if I remember correctly) and how this is HER TIME to do something that’s for her exclusively. Working out might not be your thing. The point is, however, to invest in yourself. Carve out time just for you to do what supports you and you alone. Her message was to find times to put yourself higher on your priority list.
She is preaching to the choir here. Self-care is something I teach, write about, and advocate by any means I can as much as possible. It’s the foundation for my entire body of work. I just read that a woman in Osaka, Japan “died from overwork” after 159 hours of overtime in one month, taking only two days off. This is extreme, but it makes the point loud and clear. If we don’t make time for ourselves, we will suffer – and everything we care about will suffer, too – including life itself.
I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to hear all the speakers, especially Brené Brown and Michelle Obama, both of whom I have long admired. It was a truly moving experience for me to be there in person. I loved the messages of all the speakers, and I hope these takeaways give you a taste and a little inspiration.
I’d love to hear what you think and what resonates with you. As always, please feel free to leave your comment in the space below.
Upcoming BodyIntelligence Self-Mastery Course in Wilmington, Delaware
Managing Stress and Overwhelm
Invest in Yourself! Learn 7 key mind-body strategies to help you deal with stress and overwhelm from the inside out, so you can feel calm, confident, and in control, and ready to face what life throws at you.
6-week course starts October 18, 2017. Click here for details >>