Have you ever had an experience you wish you could bottle up and give as a gift to every person in your life? An event or moment that strikes a chord and helps you see something in a whole new way, or confirms something you strongly believe? Maybe you’ve had that feeling after a weekend group retreat, or an offsite with your team—someplace where the conversations run deep and you feel…connected in a different way than before. I had one of those experiences recently, as a presenter for the 2020 TEDx Cherry Creek Women event.
My “idea worth spreading” was a simple guide every one of us can follow to help close the gender equity gap in the technology industry. After 30 years in tech, I can tell you, we are going in the wrong direction. There are fewer women in the industry today than there were 20 years ago. And it will take intentional and purpose-driven leadership to make a change.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my story on stage for TEDx. With the allies and leaders that will watch my talk and create the needed change, I am optimistic we can bring in and retain more women in the technology industry. That’s a great feeling to have.
But I want to share with you a remarkable side effect of being a TEDx presenter: absolute inspiration from getting to know and listening to my fellow speakers. This wasn’t totally unexpected, but I was surprised just how deep the process and the experience would impact me.
The ideas and stories I heard from the other women are incredible. I learned how women should unapologetically own our adversities and how to say goodbye to guilt—that we can’t effectively speak up if we’re using the wrong language, and I was shown power of cancelling the cancel culture we see around us.
While each talk was special and unique, they had something specific in common: people sharing their personal stories to help make the world a better place. Listening to those stories, and getting to know the women behind them, confirmed something I have long believed: Everyone has a story worth sharing. While our tribulations may be different, we all experience the same emotions, and we can learn from one another’s unique perspectives. We just have to be willing to share and listen.
While it can be uncomfortable sharing your story or ideas, I’ve found there’s something beautiful that comes with being willing to let people know your lived experiences. When you bring your authentic self—when you let others in—your relationships become deeper and more fulfilling.
You also come to understand yourself in a new way. Sharing yourself with others can help you overcome insecurities and reconcile conflicts in your mind. It can help you understand who you are and teach you to love yourself, because you are special.
Developing my TEDx talk, and then hearing the heartfelt stories of my fellow presenters, helped me remember the power of sharing. I am so grateful for the opportunity, and the connectedness I feel to myself, my community, and to the world. And I wish the same for all of you.
So, what is your story? Do you share it openly with others? If not, why? It’s never too late to take a step back, discover your story and share it with the world. We all just have to be willing to share and listen with an open heart and no judgement.