Did you know that up until the age of four we use 100% of our brilliance? By the time we are twenty this drops down to less than 10% and when we hit our thirties we use less than 2%.  According to American speaker, author, life coach and entrepreneur Simon T. Bailey it is because we get conditioned by societies as we grow and our identity and values are largely defined by others people’s expectations.

As I am sitting here writing this blog, I know that my five-year-old definitely uses his brilliant artistic abilities as you can see on the featured image. I did consider discipline yet I don’t want to hold the artist in him back! Who knows, I may have given birth to the next Leonardo Da Vinci…I just hope my landlord is of the same opinion.

Right, back to the one thing which will unlock your true potential. In my previous blog, I wrote about comparison with others, the aftermath of small talk, and becoming your own CEO. Today’s message is about surrounding yourself with people that will lift you up, how to overcome your fear of speaking and how knowledge truly is power.

These are my own insights that worked for me and some of you may resonate with these while others less so. For those that feel the connection, I hope you are inspired to unlock your true potential!

Find your people

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Every individual you have met at a certain point in your life was there to teach you a lesson. Some are there to teach you who you don’t want to become, others serve their purpose as role models and there are those that just make you feel good, energize you and lift you up.

Last time I wrote that the most difficult thing is to believe in yourself when no one else does. So, when you are surrounded by those who do… enjoy and use that positive energy to push yourself beyond your own boundaries. No one advances in life without the help of others; asking and accepting help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I have been blessed with both negative and positive people throughout my professional journey. People who showed me how not to act in life; people who made me feel worthless only to realize that I gave them that power over me and I can take it back whenever I want. People who believed me in when very few did; people who advocated for me or mentored when I needed it the most. And people who just made me feel very good and fueled my self-confidence even further.

As Oprah Winfrey mentioned once: In all of her interviews from Beyoncé to serial killers, they all asked the same question, how did I do? It is human nature to seek self-validation, just seek it from those who mean well. Remember: reason, season or lifetime – choose wisely!

Speak up and free yourself

Until the age of 13, I hardly spoke up and I was extremely shy to the point I just wanted to hide every time I was in public. I am proud that two decades later this is definitely in the past and I love speaking truth to power.

Working in a multinational security institution for over 17 years thought me to become diplomatically Dutch, which means that I still speak my mind…I just phrase it in a way that it lands as soft as possible at the receiving end. And I always give out a warning sign by mentioning that I am Dutch, it helps prepares others for what is about to come. It comes naturally to me now, but it never did before.

I struggled for a very long time and it took a large dose of self-confidence, thick-skin, knowing my stuff and embracing my fear. It is perplexing how many people are so scared of speaking in public, during meetings or in general. It is almost as if we feel we will die if we say what we want to say the most. Staying in our comfort zone and letting our inner voice speak feels much safer.

But here is the thing. The fear, the adrenaline, the anxiety, and discomfort can all contribute to actually speaking up and say what you have to say. If you change your internal narrative, if you prepare, and if you practice you will find yourself still alive after you spoke up.

The first time is scary, but practice does make perfect. There is only one thing worse than death which is being a life but dead inside. And if it makes you feel any better, there are many people out there full of hot air and have no idea what they are talking about. Don’t compare yourself, don’t be intimidated, just be the best version of you.

The world needs more authentic and genuine voices. And who knows, your idea may be groundbreaking…you will never know until you start speaking up!

Knowledge is power

There is no way around it. Being prepared and knowing your stuff is key to succeeding in your journey. And in this digital age where there is an overload of information the challenge is to filter, analyze and use it to advance your own voice and tell your story.

I am a big believer in lifelong learning no matter how much we think we know, we can always learn something new.

When I was in Cambridge I met a Ph.D. student who wrote an article on the importance of feeling stupid. Reading her article was a life-changing moment for me because I always felt out of place when I did not know something.

The irony is that those with high levels of self-confidence are the first ones to admit they don’t know and then seek the knowledge they need. And unfortunately, those that are plagued with insecurities are the first ones to speak despite their ignorance. I hope you feel better now next time you feel stupid and are full of doubt, you are likely part of the most intelligent part of society!

Stay tuned for part 3 where I will write about being grateful, letting go of expectations and why you should be full of yourself!


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