Sometimes You Just Need to Strip Down

A lot can happen in a week’s time. Like when you are sure a week ahead of time what your next blog topic will be and then, thru the course of the week’s journey, that idea shifts multiple times. Some call it serendipity; some call it a God-wink. Most of us, if we are not living our life with eyes wide open, miss these opportunities to make adjustments or to learn. SHE-friends, I was all set to write this week, as part of my Transformation 2017 messaging, about the important role women play for each other. Nope, this post is neither “political” nor is it “feminist” in nature. Interesting, right? But here’s the problem…that topic is not a foundation for transformation. That topic is one of the stepping-stones.

Okay, let me back up a bit.

I was in Santa Monica last weekend for my India Hicks Leadership Retreat with 80 of the leaders in our company. Leaders because of hard work, determination and willingness to be fearless in building our respective businesses. I knew I would have lots to say about tribal support, mentoring, building each other up.

But then those God-winks started showing up, and I made one very good decision. I decided to let life lead me and vowed to stay aware as the weekend and following week wore on to see where it took me. I am so glad I did.

On our first morning of training for Senior Directors and above, IH brought in a very gifted executive coach to open the discussion amongst the top leaders in the company (around 25 of us) about “what is holding you back.” Joyce Richman opened with a comment about how attractive the group was, then she talked a bit, began asking some pretty deep, open-ended questions and I found myself raising my hand. Dang it, I sometimes dislike that bit of impulsive nature that churns inside of me. It was in response to her question, “What is holding you back today? What is that self-view that you have of yourself that is talking in your ear?”

This question, so early in the morning and after only my first cup of coffee!

“What is keeping you from achieving your goals? Who wants to share?”

I tugged at my new, fitted dress (I never wear fitted clothing… one of my insecurities), sat up tall and out poured my insecurity in my now 1-year-old business. Out poured a truth that I had never shared with anyone. I promised myself that 2017 would be #Fearless, so I put it all out there. I began, “I have a fear of being judged by other women because I have jumped into an industry that I have never worked in, filled with style and fashion savvy awareness, where I do not believe I am naturally stylish or fashion savvy. In fact,” I shared, “it took me HOURS to piece together the few outfits I needed for the weekend because of this insecurity.” I continued, as my eyes welled of gentle tears just a bit, “I want to be successful, I want to be perceived as stylish, I want to help others feel stylish, beautiful, empowered…but I’m afraid that I don’t always see myself that way.” I sat very still knowing that 25 sets of eyes were on me, trying to not look around, trying to just breathe. I felt completely naked, stripped down in front of an audience. But after every difficult turn that life has occasionally handed me, this particular insecurity seemed so shallow, so surface and so irrelevant. But, rational or irrational, it was holding me back.

If you are rolling your eyes about now, you have probably missed the point of my story entirely. No, it’s not a 3rd world issue, I get that. In fact, it’s pretty irrelevant what anyone thinks of my sense of style. The point is that self-belief, that fear, that insecurity was holding me back. And suddenly, just like that, I didn’t care if I was naked anymore. I had “put it all out there” and regardless of what might come next, I felt strong and empowered.

Pretty cool, huh? But that’s not even the end of the story. As the weekend sessions progressed, more and more women “stripped down” by sharing their stories of fear and insecurities; sharing their stories of their personal struggles and their “why” for starting this business. There was a lot of stripping down (not literally, or course) that weekend and I think the majority of us probably left as a new leader and an empowered woman. I’m even guessing that some of us left that retreat as a better wife, mother and friend.

As the week progressed, Alessia Cara’s new song, Scars to Your Beautiful seemed to be playing on the radio quite frequently and across many stations. When I stopped and actually listened to the words, the now-stripped-down-me felt that sense of strength again:

But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing, the world can change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

I needed to hear that, every single time it played.

And finally, yesterday morning in my yoga class, our Yogi leader closed the practice with this simple reminder: “You never know what someone is going thru behind their smiles, behind their eyes, so be kind without judgment.”  That was my “icing on the cake” in my shift in message of this week’s blog post.

SHE-friends, 2016 was just plain noisy. If we want to truly transform, we must eliminate (or at least minimize) that noise. But here’s the deal: that noise isn’t just coming from the media, Facebook and twitter, or the noisiest of negative people around you. The most influential, stifling noise lives inside of you.

What is your noise? What is holding you back? What is your WHY in 2017 and is it the most truthful, authentic and honest WHY? It was only when I stripped down to the most “naked” version of me, first to me and then to others, I realized NOW transformation can occur. (cue the big, naked smile).

SHE-friends, it’s time to strip down.


Notes from the SHE Files: Sometimes you just need to strip down.


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Alena Schauer
Alena Schauer
4 years ago

WOW. this hit home for me. Thanks for sharing. I am currently going through the same thing and know that it is ME that is holding myself back. Maybe I too can let go soon to be able to move forward and lead. Thanks Darlene!!