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The Mirror of Empowerment
Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our core conversation, “Extraordinary Women Change the World.” In our last post, Justine Musk inspired us to support one another's power. Today, Liz Dennery Sanders shares her story of shining the light on others and how it helped her to recognize her own strength and light.
I believe that we are all here to serve in some capacity. If you can figure out what that is – what’s going to give you the greatest amount of fulfillment while you’re helping others in the process, it creates a rich, rewarding and empowered life. It’s not the stuff we accumulate that makes us happy, it’s the lives we touch – and hopefully change for the better.
But I didn’t always know this.
Growing up, I didn’t have strong female role models. In my family, children were “seen and not heard,” and it took me a long time to connect to my voice. In fact, I’m still on the journey.
I was a deeply lonely child. Teased and bullied, I struggled with my weight and how to fit in or how to make myself invisible, depending on the day.
I often looked for my sense of self in carefully hidden Snickers bars and at the bottom of chocolate pudding containers, but ultimately, all I ever felt was empty.
I had never heard the word empowerment, let alone what it meant or how to use it.
It wasn’t until I left home for college that I began to find my way. During those four years something shifted inside of me. Thanks to new friends, a newfound love of exercise, a caring and supportive therapist and the ability to select some of my own course work, I began to feel a sense of power – something I had never experienced before.
I finally began to realize the key to my self-esteem didn’t lie in someone else’s hands, let alone somewhere outside me. Connecting your dots and finding your voice is an inside job.
Ironically, while I struggled with my own voice, I excelled at promoting others. After two public relations and marketing internships, I knew I had found my path, or so I thought.
After college, and for the next 20 years, I worked in publishing and marketing, eventually starting my own PR and marketing agency over a decade ago. But it was actually through my philanthropic work that I became connected to my bigger WHY and mission in life many years later.
I’ve been a mentor for the past 12 years. First, for Women in Need in NYC, where I taught classes in self-esteem, interviewing skills and professional etiquette, and then for Step Up Women’s Network, where I’ve been involved with both the teen programs and their Professional Mentorship & Development program.
I founded SheBrand because I want to help other women find their voice and step into their power. Thanks to my philanthropic work, and now through my SheBrand clients, I realize that the more we help others connect to their power – to their true voice and their own brand of awesome – the more we empower ourselves.
It’s a funny thing, I didn’t realize how awesome I was until I started helping other women and girls connect to their own awesome. When we help another woman or girl find that powerful place within, it stirs something deep within ourselves.
The power is always there, we sometimes just need someone else to hold up a mirror so that we can see ourselves clearly – in all our bright, shining, perfect beauty.
One thing I know for sure: I feel most fulfilled, and ultimately empowered, when I’m holding up the mirror for someone else.
About Liz: Liz is a brand and creative strategist, personal development coach and the founder of SheBrand.com, a global online business dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs build their confidence, their brands and their bank accounts. As the past Chair of the Los Angeles Board of Directors for Step Up Women’s Network and a founding member of the organization’s Luminary Circle, Liz pens the monthly column, “Step Up To Success,” for Step Up’s national newsletter. Connect with Liz at www.shebrand.com and on Twitter: @SheBrandLiz.