Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our core conversation, “Extraordinary Women Change the World.” In our last post, Ev’Yan discussed her mission to open up the conversation about sexuality to empower all of us. Today, our own Lisa Wood talks about discovering her voice and empowerment outside of the experts.
On a hot summer day in August, my first child was born. He was a beautiful, perfect baby boy. I had no idea how much he would change my life.
I was a young mom, completely unsure of myself and not really knowing how to do this whole “mommy thing”. I had read every parenting book and magazine known to man, soaking in every bit of guidance I could. I wanted desperately to do everything right, but I had no idea what that even was.
My son had severe colic and seemingly never slept. Of course, everyone around me had an opinion. “You should wrap him like this, change him this way, don’t give him a pacifier, change his formula, hold him this way, burp him that way, and whatever you do, don’t forget to…”
It was never-ending. Though veiled with the best of intentions, the barrage of advice made me doubt my ability to care for my own child. I didn’t trust my instincts. I couldn’t even hear my own voice.
All I could hear were the “experts” telling me I was doing it all wrong.
So I taught myself how to do all the things I thought I needed to. I made him homemade clothes and baby food, took him on play dates, and enrolled him in baby swimming lessons. I was the epitome of super mom, but I still never felt like it was enough. I was still terrified that I would ruin him.
Fast forward two years, we had a new baby – a girl – and my husband and I moved our little family to Vermont. Scary as it was, it turned out to be the best thing we could have done. We chose to make a new life and write our own next chapter.
As the children grew, I slowly started to trust my own judgement. It was clear that they were happy, healthy, and well-grounded. Even in their teen years, they weren’t rebelling like I did at their age. They were thriving.
That’s when I realized that we hadn’t ruined them. We were actually doing a damn good job.
Did we have the secret to parenting figured out? Not by a long shot. We simply stayed true to ourselves and did what we thought was right. We talked honestly to our children (and still do). We let them see us laugh and cry – at our best and our worst. When we had to say “no,” we took the time to explain why. We never pulled rank or argued “because I said so.” They grew up knowing that we were in their corner, no matter what.
They’ve taught us just as many life lessons as we have taught them, and through it all we were just being ourselves.
A New Chapter
Well, that tiny, colicky baby boy graduated from college the other day. I’m not sure how it happened, but overnight he turned into a man. He’s a brilliant, handsome, amazing person, and I’m so incredibly proud of him. He’s doing great things, despite the current challenges in our world.
My daughter just finished her first year of college. She is strong and secure. She’s everything I hoped she’d be, and more. I wanted her to have what I never did growing up – that ability to hold her head high and be proud of who she is – not feeling like she always had to conform to someone else’s expectations and rules.
So what does my story have to do with empowerment? Everything.
My husband and I empowered ourselves to raise our children the way we felt was right. And by treating them with respect, we had empowered them to be the best that they could be. We helped them see that being yourself is pretty damn amazing.
You can do it, too, and it’s not just limited to family.
Ignore the “experts”
How many times have you compared yourself to someone else and thought, “Oh, they’re doing that so much better than me – I should be doing that?” Or the “experts” tell you that you have to do X, Y, Z if you ever want to succeed. You should write an e-book, post twice a day, sell your soul to the social media gods, blah blah blah.
What makes these “experts” so much better than you? The fact that they have a $5,000 e-course? Been published? Have 10 million followers? Meh.
When I started my business I believed that I had to be just like “them” I read everything I could get my hands on – blog posts, e-books, “how-to” courses, etc. After a while I realized I didn’t really need any of it, and I started to think for myself again.
Comparing yourself to others and chasing shiny objects will kill your business and suck the life out of you.
The more you try to be like someone else, the worse off you will be. You’ll stress yourself out, and lose your ability to hear your own voice. And your readers? They’re smart. If you’re just playing a part, they will eventually sniff you out.
You don’t need someone else to empower you. It doesn’t work that way. You have that power already.
Believe in yourself, trust your gut, and do what you feel is right. Reach deep inside and take time to listen to what your heart is telling you.
Then do that.
About Lisa: Lisa Wood is the Visual Coordinator at Productive Flourishing. With a background in business and a flair for design, Lisa is an uncommonly intuitive designer, as committed to educating clients about their sites as she is designing them. You can also find her at Sprout New Media and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Angela Wheeler says
Thank you for sharing this, Lisa. Great parallels between being an empowered parent and a business owner. It’s so important that we listen to our own voice in all aspects of our lives.
So true, Angela. Thanks for inviting me to participate. I’m honored to be a part of this conversation.
Lisa Alessi says
You are singing my song Lisa! Thanks for sharing your life lessons through parenthood that are so applicable to our professional lives too. I couldn’t agree more about the importance of learning to lead life from a place of inner directedness — it takes practice but oh so worth it. Congratulations to Mike and all of you!
Thanks, Lisa! Let me also add that great friends can help you find your voice and stay true to it, even if you can’t. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. 🙂 @Lisa Alessi
Cate Brubaker says
So true, Lisa! When I start to feel uncertain, stuck or really stressed with my business I stop and ask myself if I’m listening to myself or if I’m listening to the often conflicting “advice” from the blogs I read about what I “should” be doing.
There’s some really useful information out there and I’ve learned a lot from my favorite blogs. But equally important is filtering that information, taking what’s useful for me at this time, and making my own decisions (and owning those decisions). Great post!
Hi Kate – yes, so true. Filtering is the key. Learning is important, and I believe that everyone can benefit from having a mentor or coach, but at the end of the day you have to believe in what you’re doing and do it YOUR way. Thanks for adding to the conversation! 🙂
Tina Robbins says
Thanks for this Lisa! I have recently realized that too much listening to the “experts” had pulled me away from what I really wanted to focus on, which is helping women get clear on their priorities and feel more in control in their lives. Instead I was trying to focus on helping with big life transitions, people who wanted to get organized, etc. I am still heading to where I want to be but now that i am taking the “expert” advice and suggestion not rule, I am feeling like *I* have my clarity back.
@Tina Robbins Ooh, yes,Tina – “suggestion, not rule”. You nailed it! We observe what’s out there and take the bits that we can use – and ignore the rest.
Thanks so much for sharing your insight! 🙂
Hey Lisa, Great post. Congratulations to your son on his graduation. It’s always good to remember that nobody else is allowed to occupy our head space. Every parent and entrepreneur deserves to allow their unique voice to bubble up to the surface. I’ve learned that when you cut the outside interference, you find your way. Every time.
@ShannVanderLeek Thanks so much for commenting – I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.
And I love this: “Nobody else is allowed to occupy our head space” — that’s such a challenge, for women especially, but truly wise words and definitely ones to live by!