Diana Vreeland once said the eye cannot love what it isn't used to. That is what I love about my work...getting to show women how wonderfully and fearfully they are made....getting them used to seeing seeing their their uniqueness and story as treasures. Because whether you are giving a talk or getting dressed you have a chance to share your inner strengths and inspire someone else. On the plane back from Vancouver I read David and Goliath from Malcom Gladwell and he has written about just that...assuming disadvantages where there are actually advantages. That precisely that which we see as a burden or challenge when highlighted takes us forward and can motivate others. I experienced this some years ago when three women colleagues booked a workshop with me. When the first one said she didn't wear skirts because she had schreklich (horrible in German) legs I gave her a skirt and said you have paid for the workshop so please get your money worth and get objective feedback. It took some convincing but when she walked back into the room the other two gasped and said"wow you Marlene Dietrich legs".
When it was the next woman's turn she said the same thing...I never wear skirts because I have schreklich legs. I gave her the skirt and when she came out the other two said "wow you could be a pantyhose model." When finally the third participant came forward she said "I know that the other two said they have horrible legs and it's not at all true...but in my case it I really do have schrecklich legs." Of course you know the ending to this. And then they all laughed...amazed at the truth and treasure of who they were and what they had been unnecessarily covering up as a major disadvantage. We also saw this with Oprah's speech at the Golden globes...what made it powerful was her ability to make herself vunerable with a simple story. She shared and we listened and valued...because it was about turning a disadvantage into an advantage and we got it.
In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother's house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: "The winner is Sidney Poitier." Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black, and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people's houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation in Sidney's performance in "Lilies of the Field":
"Amen, amen, amen, amen."
In the few simple sentences we could imagine here sitting there in front of the TV. The speech was powerful because it was elegant, truthful and visionary. We al know that when we free ourselves from inauthentic expression we find the true treasure of ourselves. Sometimes...like my ladies and their legs...we need help to find the courage to act on our vision. Whether it is to speak out or dress to express. Our self image defines who we are...and it is a powerful and courageous act to work though distortion in our self-perceptions. As in the story of David and Goliath we are reminded that it is not who we think we are are that often holds us back. but who we think we are not.
These extraordinary flowers by Parisian artist Rachel Levy. They are so powerful to me me because they find the advantage in a so called disadvantage. Old versus fresh. I first saw them in a shop in Paris many years ago and was deeply touched by them. I love old flowers in full bloom and was touched that some thought like I did and saw the beauty and lushness off full bloom. Kindred spirits I felt. Now that I am 59 even more so do I love this wonderful reminder of the grace and beauty and sophistication age that Ms Levy's images articulate so clearly.
It is crucial that to find the advantage in your story so that we can communicate your unique inner strengths visually and verbally. I hope that wherever you are today you think of what touches you and be reminded that within that story, photo, paining or color...is a simple truth about you. And connect the dots from your inspiration back to you in order to recieve courage to act on your vision and be reminded of your treasures. So whether you prepare a PPT or dress for a meeting....you say yes to becoming more fully present!
Check out. http://rachellevyflowers.com
“It was not the privileged and the fortunate who took in the Jews in France. It was the marginal and damaged, which should remind us that there are real limits to what evil and misfortune can accomplish. If you take away the gift of reading, you create the gift of listening. If you bomb a city, you leave behind death and destruction. But you create a community of remote misses. If you take away a mother or a father, you cause suffering and despair. But one time in ten, out of that despair rises as indomitable force. You see the giant and the shepherd in the Valley of Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants