It was nearly 3 a.m. last Friday and I was up in the middle of the night, sitting on the couch in my living room on the north shore of Chicago. A cup of hot tea rested beside me, a soft blanket covered my legs, and two dogs flanked either side of me.
I wasn't relegated to the couch by my wife for bad behavior, mind you; I was up in the middle of the night working as I often am. It's not unusual for me to fall asleep between 8 and 9 p.m. only to find myself up and working between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. Eventually, I'll wear myself out and catch a couple more hours of sleep before rising for good between 6 and 7 in the morning to enjoy spending time with my wife before she heads off to work and I begin my day of running RTC from our home.
On this night, I was up reading the outline for my upcoming business/memoir, Leading With Love, that my team had sent me only hours before. After months of vision work and in depth interviews with Aleks, (one of our writers in Hawaii) and then Lizzie and Katie (in L.A. and Austin respectively), a huge amount of love and caring had been put into the words that were now before me. The words that would introduce my business philosophies and thought leadership to the world. Reading them brought an insane range of emotions: extreme appreciation for feeling heard, warmth in my heart that we are capturing the blessings I'm here to offer, terror in reading parts that might require explanation or even permission from my wife, fear of the parts that felt boring, and laughter and intense joy at moments captured perfectly already at this early stage of the game.
Amidst all these emotions though, the one that stuck out most for me was pride. Pride that I have decided to share my story. Pride that I have surrounded myself with beautiful spirits to help me do it justice. Pride that I'm paying for it and investing in myself and my future. Pride that I'm taking responsibility to change a small part of the world with my story. Pride that I've put myself in the most challenging space possible -- the one of telling the world I matter by my actions, with no guarantee that the world will care.
This is a terrifying proposition to me. As a former actor, I'm used to rejection, but this is my story, not someone else's screenplay where I put on a costume and act out their words. It's personal. And yet, in doing the thing that scares me most, I'm creating the pathway of a new future for myself. And that is the gift. By saying yes to writing a book and doing it with beauty and vulnerability, I have guaranteed myself years of intense growth that will result in a redefined future.
After guiding others do this hundreds of times, I know that as long as I keep showing up, I guarantee a brilliant process, which guarantees an equally brilliant outcome. In fact, after being a storyteller for 20 years, I've seen no greater transformation in people than sharing their story with vulnerability delivers and now I'm in the midst of it myself.
It goes like this:
- By saying yes to your story, you've put yourself in a situation where you have to reflect deeply on the intersections of your life that have defined you.
- You repeat that for a year, layering your understanding of yourself week by week with a team of people who are championing your journey and celebrating your spirit.
- You see your thoughts, ideas, and the beauty of your life reflected back to you in new language that becomes part of your DNA.
- As you start sharing your newly understood self with your inner circle, you see the world responding to you, opening up.
- As you share this new language with people you did not previously know, you hear, see, and feel the reactions of those who can relate to and be inspired by your humanity -- and that creates an overwhelming gratitude within you.
All any of us want to do is touch the lives of others. Sharing our stories is the gateway to changing the world.
For me, the value of this process is how alive I feel on this path. I am bright in all of my mixed emotions. I am afraid, and overjoyed, ashamed and proud. I am celebrating the paradox that I am, and in the drama of that paradox is the most wonderful place from which to live life. It informs every relationship, every decision, every behavior. Sometimes it makes me tremble. Sometimes it makes me weep. Sometimes it makes me laugh more deeply than I have since I was a child. Sometimes it makes me still in a fast moving world.
What might you attract to your own life if you were living in such a space? What if you knew your story could change the world? What if you believed you were meant to touch the lives of people around the globe?
Want to know who changes the world? I'll tell you. It's the people who choose to.
Share your story.
To see this article as it appears on the Huffington Post website, please click here.