Clap For The Parts Of Yourself No One Else Can See

How do we unlock our power? How do we learn what we are actually capable of? If most women don’t know their power, what can we do to fix that?

Saturday was rainy and unseasonably cold and my in-laws had been at our house in the Hamptons for four days already and all of those days were overcast and grey. This day was no exception but after some Royal Wedding watching and a run in the rain, I knew we couldn’t just all set around inside. Thankfully, the Longhouse Reserve was open early and we decided that rain boots and umbrellas were the ticket to an afternoon of art and botanical gardens.

This is where we met Meep. She has a more beautiful name that none of us can recall now because of the story her handler shared with us. Meep is an owl who fell from her nest when she was four days old. When she was found, she was brought to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and the vets who examined her and operated on her, told the others that she was hopeless, she would most likely die soon. Meep had other plans.

She imprinted on her caretakers, survived, thrived and is now part of an educational program, visiting places where children are likely to be and teaching them more about her species.  Meep rests calmly on her handler’s gloved forearm and pays close attention to anyone looking at her. Her talons are long and strong; stronger than the talons of an Eagle and deadly to her prey (were she to have any) and damaging to the nerves and tendons of any human unlucky enough to be in her grip.  Her handler shared more of her story with us, how she eats, lives and was easily trained as well as why she cannot be released into the wild. “She doesn’t know how to live that way and she has no idea what she’s capable of.”

This is almost every woman.  How do we remedy that?

We will never know what we are capable of until we are tested, pushed and challenged beyond what we can imagine. Did you lose a family member to sudden death? Go through a divorce you never saw coming? Have you endured a huge financial set back? Health scare have you fighting for your life? Did you live in a city during a terror attack?  Did you live in a country during war? There are countless ways life will test us and we will have no control over the biggest tests of our lives so what do we do about the things we can control?

We can control the challenges we willing inflict on ourselves and these not only prepare us for the inevitable kick in the face all lives endure but they unleash other powers we may have kept dormant or not even known we possessed.

Have you adopted a healthier lifestyle and lost 25 or more pounds? Have you signed up for and completed a Century Ride, Triathalon, Marathon, Tough Mudder? Hiked a difficult trail or mountain? Did you move to a land or city so wildly out of your comfort zone and know not one person there until you arrived?  Have you challenged yourself in any way recently?  Self taught chess player? Learning a new language? A new instrument?

Meep doesn’t know if she is a good hunter, a good mother, or how the wind feels as it lifts her wings because she has never had to learn. She’s pleasing, beautiful, docile, quiet and content because this is all she knows.  It may be all you know but it doesn’t have to be. Don't be Meep.

What do you want to learn about yourself? Start with how you were as a little girl. Really think about what you remember about yourself, what your family and friends recall about those years and get specific. Become familiar with what those personality traits say about you now. Are you compassionate? Headstrong? Stubborn? Fearless? Gentle? Funny? Creative? These are your first powers, these are some of the building blocks of you and each one of them is a strength. I hated the clarinet, guitar and piano lessons my parents paid for as a child but I learned at early ages that with some focus and practice, I can make anything happen. High fives to all parents moving their families every few years or families leaving a country behind-your kids are the most resilient any of us may every know. 

Next, in what way can you challenge yourself this week? Next month? By the end of this year?  What is holiday card newsworthy? What will make you so proud of yourself?  Will you drop a bad habit, pick up a new one or challenge yourself in a huge way? When was the last time you were proud of yourself?

Even something as simple as the Daily Water Challenge: Nine to 12 glasses of water every day, is a way of holding yourself accountable, improving your life and learning where your weaknesses may lie. Those who challenge themselves are exciting humans to be around. They are also people others like hiring. We have confidence in employees who challenge themselves, we admire the tenacity, discipline, and overall curiosity about the world. Want to hire more self-motivated humans?  Ask them about how they challenge themselves or what challenges they've faced that may not be on their resume.  See if they mention one or more than five. Hire those in the latter category.

Again, life will throw challenges our way over which we have no control and we cannot see coming.  Some people actually crumble in a challenge. They fall apart or they bottle up their feelings until they erupt over everyone around them. If you want to know what you are capable of, challenge yourself in wild ways and rise to the challenge. You'll build strength, endurance and muscle memory of how to survive the awful parts. If you’ve had some huge challenges in your life, ruminate on your strength. Sit with your excellences, your resilient spirit, your optimism and your joy. Lastly, raise your hand and tell your story to the rest of us. When women share their struggles and their strengths, we learn from one another, we appreciate how powerful we are. We celebrate ourselves.  As my friend Carol reminds me, “Clap for the parts of yourself not everyone can see”