Are you the same person at work and at home? Do you have a “work personality” you put on as you prepare for the day ahead? This persona may be a little more polished, positive, and mild-mannered. You may justify that it is essential for retaining clients, pleasing the higher-ups, or presenting the best version of yourself to the world. However, if we’re not careful, this false portrait of ourselves that we present to others may take on an identity of its own.

Presenting our authentic selves at all times is essential to living a fulfilling life. It also sets us apart as leaders. If you’re prepared to be present and love every part of your life, you MUST ask yourself these three questions.

“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

Question #1. What Am I Afraid Of?

If your authentic self is not showing up to work, it is essential to ask yourself “What am I afraid of?”. In Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott states, “You cannot have the life you want, make the decisions you want, or be the leader you are capable of being until your actions represent an authentic expression of who you really are, or who you wish to become.” It seems so simple, but this truth illustrates the difference between just showing up, and truly BEING THERE in all aspects of our lives.

Are you afraid of losing the respect of those around you? Do you fear rejection from your peers? Is there a fear of failure buried beneath those fake smiles? Ms. Scott goes on to say “How real are any of us if we don’t share our dark days with those closest to us, if we do not claim our failures as well as our successes?”

As women, it can be hard to own our successes, let alone admit our failures. We expect ourselves and our fellow women to be above reproach, often worried that even the slightest misstep will lead to a global “I told you so”. However, owning both our positive and negative experiences gives us the knowledge, compassion, and empathy that we constantly pull from as we lead others. Vulnerability is a true gift, not a weakness.

Spend a few moments examining what it is that you are afraid of. Sit with this fear for a moment, no matter how uncomfortable. Once you have identified it, you can start to chip away at its hold on you. This is the first step to being able to be fully present, no matter where you are.

Question #2. What Am I Pretending Not to Know?

Are you more qualified than everyone else around you, but being passed over for a promotion? Is your marriage crumbling at its core? Is your desire to be a mother continuously being pushed to the back burner? It is possible to hide things from ourselves. Susan Scott phrases it beautifully, “Some fear that becoming authentic is a form of selfishness, and unknowingly limit the possibilities within their relationships, feeling it’s inappropriate to put their own interests first.”

What are the unspoken desires in YOUR heart? Are there needs that you’ve failed to address because it’s easier to just keep living comfortably? What are you pretending not to know?

Answering this question requires a truthful dialog with yourself. It doesn’t mean that you can change the issue in an instant, but IDENTIFYING these thoughts and feelings is essential if you want to claim your place in your own life. This may be painful, as these are things we’ve locked away to protect ourselves from the upheaval the answers may require. However, digging deep within ourselves is required if we want to truly live in authenticity.

Question #3. If I Don’t Change, Where Will I Be?

Coming out of the shadows and into your true self is your birthright. As Ms. Scott says:

“There is no workable separation of selves at work and at home. We are ourselves all over the place, and it is this real self that is felt and experienced at a deeply personal level…”

If we continue to separate our work from our spirit, our lives will always have a void at the center. Are you working for the weekend? Do you pour yourself into your work to distance yourself from your kids? There is one unavoidable truth that we all must accept: time is running out.

This is how we manage to spend decades in unhappy marriages or unfulfilling jobs. Are you going to look back and regret not taking the chance to follow your passion? If you don’t make the changes your heart is longing for, where will you be in five years? Ten? Twenty? While confronting your fear and your hidden truths can be difficult, there is nothing more painful than living a life where you were never truly present.

You deserve to live the life of your dreams. The world needs your unique voice, your talents, and your leadership.

Make the time to ask these difficult questions now, and you’ll be well on your way to living a life rich with authenticity. Being yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give to the world. Bring your entire self to the workplace each day, and set the example for everyone else around you. Others will be attracted to your genuine passion, and be inspired to let their perfect facades fade away as well.

The NEW leader is YOU! BELIEVE

I invite you to start now. Visit my website at and sign up for a free giveaway. If you have questions and want to connect, I would love to chat: 902-431-5189 or drop me an email:

Sharing your Leadership Journey,

Shelley Cox

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