I'm eternally lucky to have a father who is one part philosopher, one part sceptic, one part contrarian, and all parts curious. When I travel back home to Kansas to visit family one of the things I most look forward to is opening a bottle of wine and sitting on the back porch, each of us reclining in our own chair with our feet propped up on another chair in a relaxed position prepared to solve all the world's problems by the time the bottle is empty (and my mom is yelling for us to come inside for dinner.)
I can't remember when my father, a former attorney turned businessman and real estate fanatic, shared the following lesson with me, but it has stuck. That lesson is this, "every so often take a step back and look at your life from the balcony."
Now what does that mean? For me it means we live our lives close up. Every day we get up, tend to responsibilities, try to quiet the voices in our head, pay the bills, show up for those we love, handle the challenges we encounter, and go to bed and get up and do it all again.
As a long time interviewer and communications and confidence coach I have learned the absolute necessity of moving the the balcony every so often.
Part of my work is sitting down with men and women and assisting them in finding their story. It's a tough thing to do, to look in the mirror and give yourself credit for what you've achieved and for what your life may teach those around you, especially when you're in the middle of the daily grind.
But when we go to the balcony and look at our lives objectively that all changes. All of a sudden we look at ourselves with more compassion, more reverence, and a greater appreciation for what we've overcome.
Here's a prime example. I was working with one of the country's best photographers, Kathy Tran, as she was preparing to share her story at a conference for creatives. As we initially spoke Kathy was unsure of what she had to offer the audience. So I took her to the proverbial balcony if you will.
Kathy is the daughter of immigrants and grew up with a self described difficult childhood. She has since learned to forgive her parents and understand they were doing the best they could but this still left an imprint on a creative child's heart.
Deep down Kathy knew she had a creative gift and she protected it at all costs. She emancipated herself in her early teens and was adopted by her school counselor and her husband where she was able to flourish.
Kathy has created her own business, and has photographed the likes of President Joe Biden, Denzel Washington, and Mark Wahlberg (the list goes on.) She just purchased her dream home (I call it a compound, this place is amazing) and is engaged to the love of her life.
Kathy is also taking the lessons she's learned about the importance of mental, emotional, and physical health and is creating a community to help other creatives find the same sense of power and peace.
Now when I first talked to Kathy she was unsure that her life held and lessons for the greater audience, but once we went to the balcony it was clear that her life is an example of leaving situations and relationships that don't serve you and pouring yourself into healing and creating the life you want. Now THIS is something we can all resonate with.
So if you decide to work with me on storytelling and confidence coaching be prepared to go to the balcony. It's a lovely place to be, and I promise you'll give yourself a standing ovation for all that you've done and all that you mean to the world.