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For about the last two years, I have been deep in the dance of changing diapers, nursing, going to bed at the ungodly hour of 8 or 8:30pm (I have had zero night life, as you can imagine), and falling deeply in love with a beautiful baby boy.
Previous to having my child, I was very much Miss Out-and-About, both socially and on many stages in the world. I made lots of marketing videos. I gave public talks. I went to corporations to speak with their women about feeling greater freedom and clarity when sharing their voices. I was in the public eye, in the limelight, and I fed off it.
But, with one fell swoop into motherhood, that all changed.
I never could have imagined that I would retreat so far into the home. I envisioned myself pre-baby as being the kind of mom that traveled all over the country, baby on the boob, giving talks in heels and in my spare time, dishing out all kinds of marketing videos.
Shockingly to me, I had zero desire for any of that.
Instead, I became the woman behind the woman.
I’ve always kind of been that in my work, because I support women in their public speaking and in developing their thought leadership based platforms and their talks. But I was a very visible spokeswoman for my work. I have been a woman with a “personal brand,” so being in the spotlight, presenting myself and sharing my own message has been a big part of what’s created juice around my work.
After baby, I found myself so utterly rocked – in a good and identity-shifting way – by the profound experience of giving birth and by having this new precious being of love to care for, day in and day out.
I had no appetite for being on any stage, anywhere, nor for making videos or sharing about my work on social media. I just wanted to nest, care for my baby and in my spare moments, take care of my body and focus on other areas of my creativity that were suddenly beginning to blossom, like my singing, and my strange new obsession with making medicine wheels.
I did a deep honest assessment of my career and realized that – no, I did not want to do another fancy-shmancy, big-time marketing launch of one of my group programs and I had no desire to travel all over the place with my baby giving public talks. I just wanted to come back to the heart of what I do and work with women one-on-one on writing their talks and on their delivery of them.
The woman no one sees or hears about, but is there, supporting other women to be in the spotlight.
This was confronting at first because part of being a liberated woman in this day and age seems to include this idea that you would WANT to go full boar in your business AND have a baby. I see pictures of mamas online, rockin’ those heels, being fierce and fabulous mompreneurs, taking their babies to conferences and meetups, and all kinds of public events.
There’s nothing wrong with that. So long as that’s in line with a woman’s true desire, that’s fantastic. And frankly, I was pretty shocked that it wasn’t mine.
I watched as my image of myself as that woman standing in the spotlight with baby in tow began to slide out of mind, my identity completely shifting in its wake.
I stopped blogging. I kind of abandoned my website. My 10k+ business page on Facebook has lain dormant now for many, many months.
I was so utterly grateful that all the hard work I did over the previous few years gave me enough cred to be able to post something on Facebook once every few months or so about me having had a couple slots open up for new private clients, and that I’d end up with more than enough new clients as a result.
Super low maintenance marketing and just my speed.
At some point, and maybe sometime soon (writing this blog post may very well be an indicator of a turning of the tides…we’ll see), I’ll enjoy being a very visible spokeswoman again for my work in the world. I imagine that will be a natural shift as my baby becomes more and more independent. But in the meantime, I’m indulging in the beautiful pleasure of sitting back and being a bit unknown, while boosting and bolstering the messages and platforms of other brilliant spokeswomen and leaders around me.
While I’ve been nursing and making baby food, I’ve been watching with deep satisfaction as the many women I’ve worked with over the last several years on their talks and public speaking have been going out and absolutely nailing it on stages like Wisdom 2.0, tons of TEDx events, Emerging Women, universities like Princeton, Harvard, and Berkeley Haas School of Business, and at countless conferences around the world.
Their messages are gaining career-changing, life-altering momentum. Talks I supported them in writing have been parlayed into world-changing books. Every now and then I receive a book in the mail from a woman whose voice I have supported, and I’ve begun a special shelf in my home for the works of these brilliant women.
They are becoming more and more well known. I, on the other hand, am not.
I don’t have awards, but I have evidence of the liberation of these women’s messages through the TEDx and other conference videos they send me of their talks, their books, and their handwritten love notes of thanks.
I’ve come to see my true indicator of success is not how many followers I have or how well known I am or how much money I make, but rather is the evidence of the world becoming more of what we long for in our hearts because of the power and impact of these women’s voices and wisdom.
That’s why I got into this work in the first place. The personal recognition was never really the “thing.” I got confused.
Funny how I never felt deep fulfillment when I was the one out there in the spotlight all the time. Something was feeling a bit stressful and off. It took me stepping away and focusing in, once again, on the real reason I do the work I do in order to find that authentic satisfaction and peace.
And here’s what I discovered:
I do what I do because I believe deeply in the transformative power of women’s voices and wisdom. It has nothing to do with how shiny or well known of a personality I have or develop in the process of sharing that message.
I caution against getting these two – connected, yes – but very distinct things confused.
I think that in the world of Internet marketing and online women entrepreneurship, which is a sea of personal brands, it’s so easy to lose ourselves, even as we strive to define, present and promote ourselves and our messages. It’s so easy to forget that at the end of the day – it’s not about us.
It’s about the other women… The ones we are backing up and supporting.
This confusion makes us ripe for so much preoccupation with who has more followers than us, or is speaking on bigger stages, and can propel us into the dangerous realm of an ego ridden with self doubt and inferiority, or the opposite: writhing in a sense of superiority and self importance.
Both sever us from the river of joy and love that got us into what we do in the first place.
Whenever I get off-center and worry about how I’ll be seen or thought of, or if people will like me and want to buy whatever it is I have to offer (and yes – I totally go there), I just have to constantly remember to come back to the heart, to the soul of what I’m doing and what this is all really about:
The women who will take the gifts we have to offer, add it to the mix of their genius and fly off to change the world.
They may never look back. Some might send that book, or forward that talk or send that note to say thank you for the part you played.
You might or might not receive personal recognition. Even if you do, I doubt it will feel nearly as satisfying as spending some time checking in on the people you have served and seeing what’s going on in their own spotlight over there.
It’s so important to remember that the mark of your true achievement is the impact your gift has on others, and how they are then empowered and more fully able to give their gifts in service to the world as a result.
That’s the gift of being the woman behind the woman, and I recommend grounding yourself into this perspective from time to time.
You get to remember that it’s never all about you. It’s about the part you play in the quickly transforming landscape of our civilization where women are more and more the driving force behind the change our world so desperately needs.
So, until I’m called beyond the land of diapers and teething toddlers to re-emerge in my own dance in the spotlight from time to time (which, for all you astrology freaks out there, you could expect from a Leo in Virgo), I’ll be here, mostly unknown, largely unrecognized, cheerleading you all on, the woman behind you, blowing massive kisses of support into the wind at your backs.
Journey on and share your voice and your wisdom with the world.
We need you.
Just remember – when you start feeling funky and bent out of shape about how you or your work will be received, or who has more followers than you, whether you’ll say the right thing or fill that course – come back to why you do what you do and who your gifts are for.
We can never lose our way when we come back to our core. For, in truth, we are all women behind other women. The reality is that, as much as society and our minds would have us think otherwise, we as women do not rise alone.
We rise together.
Recognizing this is the key to deep fulfillment and happiness in our lives and in our work.
With love and deep respect,