I believe in a world where we can all be recognized and appreciated as the stars we are, just by helping others find their shine.
But the world I grew up in taught me that, to be valued, I would have to morph into whatever “the market” happened to be looking for. And, to be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot on that list that felt like a good fit.
When I was little, and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would look them straight in the eye and say, “Miss Piggy.” No hesitation. No hint of irony.
I didn’t know it at the time, but what I really meant was, “I want to be a STAR!” Shining in the spotlight, center-stage, holding the mic, basking in the admiration of a rapt audience.
I spent a good portion of my life pursuing that dream, only to ultimately discover that chasing applause is an addiction no less powerful and damaging than any substance you could name.
In my private life, my unquenchable thirst for external validation left me vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, culminating in a rock-bottom moment in which I found myself literally fighting for my life as the man who had vowed to love, honor, and cherish me tried to suffocate me with a pillow after two years of what I can only describe as constant psychological torture.
Career-wise, at the height of my popularity, all fame got me was strangers walking up to me in public to give me advice about a life that only existed in the tabloids. And ultimately I found myself, as so many of us do, bawling my eyes out on the rooftop of an office building, trying in vain to dislodge the black ball of shame lodged in my solar plexus, the not-good-enough story that still haunted me, despite all my degrees, honors, accolades, accreditations, and accomplishments.
It took me four decades to figure out that the problem wasn’t with my shine, but with my vision of stardom. It was all surface and no substance.
I knew my “what”: I wanted to be an influencer. What was missing was my “why”: who did I want to influence, what impact did I want to have on them, and to what end?
And I know I’m not alone in this.
Last week, I attended two different professional speaker training workshops, both with the same ostensible aims, but with vastly different approaches and results.
The first training was exactly what I’ve come to expect from such things, and why I tend to avoid them: jam-packed with spruced-up hopefuls, all waiting for their moment in the spotlight, desperate to impress. Nobody really listening to anybody else because they’re all too busy rehearsing their own polished presentations, or unfairly comparing themselves to one another.
After the first round of short speeches, on the topic of “leadership,” I was ready to bail. Not because the speakers were no good - on the contrary, they were obviously well-trained. Super slick. Every one of them sounded like the opening lines to a TED Talk. But it felt like I’d been trapped in a hall of mirrors, an echo chamber of would-be stars, all waiting for someone to judge them worthy and grant them permission to shine.
The second training was the kick-off call to the Purpose Pioneers virtual summit, at which I’ve just been accepted as a speaker (squee!).
Immediately, I could feel the difference in the vibe. In the first eight minutes, the organizer (Alexandria Agresta) had me in tears, and the chat was lit up with thoughtful, encouraging engagement. After an hour, I had learned things I’ve never heard in all my 30+ years as a performer, writer, speaker, and coach. And by the end, I had made several valuable contacts and absolutely could not wait to get to work on my presentation.
This contrast was a beautiful reminder that just because there are others out there who do what you do, doesn’t mean they’re doing it like you do, or offering the same results.
It also helped me clarify something I’ve been trying to put my finger on for a very long time: the difference between chasing stardom, and simply showing up and shining as the STAR you already are. Because, trust me on this one, no amount of thunderous applause from standing-room-only crowds, media appearances, bestselling books, or letters after your name will ever be enough to convince you that YOU ARE A STAR, just as you are.
So the question is: how do we simultaneously let go of that need to be seen as a star, and start showing up and shining as the stars we already are?
We recognize what it means to be a true STAR.
A true STAR:
Tells the Truth
Aligns Authentically &
So, to show up and shine as the STAR you are:
Shine Sustainably. A star doesn’t burn itself out trying to prove its worth or earn the admiration of those in its orbit. It is its own sustainable energy source: its very mass creates the cyclical nuclear reaction that radiates out as light and heat. Likewise, the STAR that you are doesn’t need to work at worthiness. All you need to do is tap into your own natural creation process, the DOER cycle, to release masterpiece after masterpiece with ease and enjoyment.
Tell the Truth. A star doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It simply shines out what it’s made of, and we love it for that. Likewise, you are made of star-stuff, and every time you lie to yourself or anyone else for your own gain, you tarnish your integrity and dull your natural shine.
Align Authentically. A star doesn’t should on itself. Focus on shining out the values and energies that truly matter to you, so those who share those values and vibe with those energies can find your light and bask in your authentic glow.
Resonate Regeneratively. A star doesn’t just give off light and heat when it’s in the mood. It provides resonant energy that can be stored and spread, radiating out in a ripple effect across all life on the planets that surround it. To be the STAR you are, show up and shine consistently, providing content that resonates on such a deep level that it lights your audience up from the inside. Empower your people to show up and shine in their own lives, lit up from the inside, so that they can spread that spark to everyone around them. This regenerative ripple effect begins with you openly, courageously, and vulnerably sharing the ideas that authentically resonate with you.
In short: the key to being valued for the things we most value in ourselves is to stop chasing validation and put all our focus on helping others realign to their own authentic, regenerative spark.
Because, in the end, the only spotlight worth standing in is the one that shines from within.
Come shine with us! Join our free community, the Innovator's Guild, to start showing up and shining as the STAR you already are.