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Permission to be Me!


Permission to Be Me!
By Sandra Ford Walston

I had an email from a woman that read: “I just landed a great job! For the first time, I negotiated my salary to my satisfaction. I didn’t give my talents away for fear of not being hired. At 48 years-old, I feel proud that I gave myself permission to be me. Why did it take me so long to become aware of my self-esteem? Why did I feel the need to silence my voice?”

Guess what? She’s not the only woman slow to awaken her self-esteem. I always ask clients: Have you given yourself permission to be as large, as powerful and as passionate as you really are? I’m not talking about your girth I’m talking about your mirth. I’m talking about your essence and depth of feeling. Or are you stuck in conditioned responses, such as “uncertainty scares me” or “I’m too old to learn something new?” Are these the scripts you’ve fastened on your life’s journey? If so, this is the opposite of courageous leadership. 

Many of my readers, corporate/association clients or coaching clients tell me that I have given them “permission to be themselves.” I have guided them to see that their courageous self, the one who feels deeply and hides it for fear of being judged or compared, is really okay. From that “real self” perspective, new insights about their inner passion and hidden wishes comes forth. This newfound courage and sense of freedom merges body, mind and spirit.

In many cases, the power of the person is different from the power of the visual persona we show the world. I don’t know where or when we were told that being who we are is in some way inappropriate or inadequate, but people don’t want an artifice. They want truth and honesty. Have you noticed in the media when someone is blatantly honest people are shocked whereas corruption, cheating or lying is accepted as an everyday happenstance?

Here are a few questions for you: Is there any difference between the ways you joke around and play in your kitchen with close friends than the way you are with your colleagues? Do you lose your sense of spontaneity and voice when you “step up” to reveal an opinion in a staff meeting? I certainly have, and if you do, I would request you begin the process of bringing your true self and your courage (meaning “heart and spirit”) closer together.



Give yourself permission to be yourself. Give yourself permission to say what you have been unwilling to say. Ask yourself:

  • “What courageous conversation am I not having?”
  • “What am I doing that I absolutely dislike?”

Maybe it’s time to be honest. No one ever went to their grave joyfully embracing all their accumulative regrets! Be courageous! Give yourself permission to take the next step up the leadership ladder.

Moral of the story: “She who hesitates before each step spends her life on one leg.”

– Ancient Chinese Proverb

About the Author

Sandra Ford Walston is The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She’s an organizational effectiveness/learning consultant, speaker, corporate trainer and courage coach specializing in understanding courage behaviors, courageous leadership and individual personality and leadership styles with a focus on tricks and traps of the human condition. The internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE (2001) and winner for the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Sandra facilitates individuals and groups in discovering the power of everyday courage. Her follow-up book, STUCK: 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder (2010) is for all working women regardless of age or position who wish to learn how to employ courage actions at work. Her third book, FACE IT! 12 Obstacles that Hold You Back on the Job (2011) is not about how to get a job, but about learning to apply courage techniques to overcome work-related barriers to self-fulfillment.

Sandra is qualified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and is a certified Enneagram teacher. Sandra has been published in several periodicals such as Chief Learning Officer, Training & Development and Strategic Finance. She provides skill-based programs for public and private businesses, including Caterpillar, Inc., Nolte Engineering, Hensel Phelps, Auburn University, Procter & Gamble, Farmers Insurance, IBM, Wide Open West and Hitachi Consulting. Sandra instructs at the University of Denver Graduate Tax Program. She offers a free courage newsletter and posts a courage blog, and she can be reached at www.sandrawalston.com




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