We gathered around Lake George in Upstate New York, each of us cradling a stone in our palm and an intention in our heart of what we wanted to set into motion in our lives and businesses.
We numbered 150, from seven countries. The lakefront gathering was the culmination of a three-day conference where we gathered to explore what it means to play a bigger game in our lives.
The exercise beautifully demonstrated how our words, actions and choices ripple outward and affect our lives and the lives of others.
On cue, we tossed our stones and intentions into the water. I watched concentric waves roll over the surface, move outward, colliding and intertwining with the wakes of other stones as each one broke the water’s surface.
My intention that day was to begin to courageously step forward in my life and business – to dare greatly – as author Brene’ Brown so aptly put it in her book Daring Greatly.
But, that’s not where my journey began. I set off the most like most of us do: squeezed into a seat on an airplane. I was making my way to Lake George, New York, for the Bigger Game Expo, a conference that highlighted examples of people who were up to Bigger Games in their life, and then to visit my mother and grown children.
During my flight, I had begun reading – no, make that devouring — Brown’s book. As I read amidst the hum of the engines, Brown’s words jumped off the page and broke the surface of my soul. Her words helped me believe that, I, too, could start daring greatly in my own life. I could finally finish my company’s website, even if it wasn’t perfect. And I could allow myself to be vulnerable and reach out for speaking engagements that seemed out of my comfort zone.
After spending time immersed in Brown’s book, I arrived in Lake George primed for transformation and learning. The conference included speakers from around the globe who talked about the reasons they believed they were each here on this planet.
As I listened to their moving words, I realized each one was sharing how they dared greatly in service of something bigger than themselves. Global activist Lynne Twist, who delivered the keynote, spoke on “The Power of Taking a Stand/Living a Committed Life.”
What I witnessed as I sat in the audience was the epitome of daring greatly. She exposed her complete authenticity, as well as unwavering vulnerability. The impact on her audience rippled through the room; it was palpable.
We all yearned for the courage to boldly stand in our truths so that we, too, can change the world.
I left the conference with a new-found appreciation for what it means to play a bigger game. But, first, I was looking forward to a visit with my mother, my first and wisest teacher.
I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper when my Mom told me about an article she read a few weeks back. She felt compelled to speak out, so she wrote a Letter to the Editor.
When I read her letter, the ground beneath me shifted: Her words revealed her vulnerability, compassion, courage, and conviction — all in service of someone else. My 70-year-old mother boldly signed her name to her beliefs and stood “in the arena, ” courageously claiming her truth.
This was one more life lesson in an endless stream of lessons my Mom shared with me. I felt overwhelming pride and confidence that I could do the same.
My journey began on a plane with a book, and ended at my wise mother’s kitchen table. The words and courage of the three wise women I encountered on my journey guided me to a place where I can stand in the arena, and dare to boldly declare my truth.
What I envision for my company is to inspire and support women around the globe to own their power and to stand in their truths. I want to show them — as my three guides showed me — that their words, actions and choices matter and that each of them is here to make a difference.
So here’s to stepping into the arena with both feet, and not just my big toe; here’s to “being seen” and demonstrating to women everywhere what it means to have the courage to do the same in every aspect of their lives.