- in Self-Care
The word moxie has become synonymous with vigor, verve, pep, courage, nerve, aggressiveness, skill, and know-how, and the new book Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World by speaking and leadership coach Alexia Vernon presents a soul-stirring call to action for women to speak up for themselves and the ideas and issues that matter most to them. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.
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Directions: Identify three to five significant experiences (“Come to Jesus” moments) that have shaped how you think of yourself, your voice, your presence, and your purpose.
First, in your journal (or in your downloadable worksheet), you are going to Recall these pivotal experiences. On the left side of the page, list them, naming each one so that you know what it represents.
Next to this name, on the right, you are going to list some basic details of what happened as you Relive (or reexperience) the journey you went through — as I did with my current-events and Space Academy stories.
Don’t worry; I won’t leave you in Relive for very long. But you have to go into your story to get through it and heal it.
Now that you have Recalled and Relived, you are going to pick the one or two experiences you feel are most relevant to you (who you are and who you are striving to become).
For each, you will write your Reframe.
This is where you will begin to shift from seeing what happened to you as something that happened for you — to help you learn, grow, and cultivate resilience. While I certainly wasn’t grateful for the embarrassing and diminishing moments I shared with you earlier in the chapter, I have reframed them and now see them as moments that prepared me for my work as a coach, speaker, and author.
Identify how you can consciously see your experience so that it empowers your voice and presence — rather than undermining it (or you). And again, be sure to write it down.
To ensure that your Reframe for each experience really sticks, you need to now Release it.
At this stage, you let go of any thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and habits that are getting in the way of truly believing your Reframes. In your journal or worksheet, write the word Release, and list anything and everything that you are letting go of, once and for all.
For me this would include a desire to publicly shame any of my childhood humiliators or to travel back in time and give an Oscar Award–winning presentation. Feel free to combine your experiences as you cull together everything you want to release.
In the final R, Reapply, you identify how you have carried forward and how you will continue to carry forward the knowledge awakened in the Reframe section.
Try not to list just what you have done / will do (e.g., the behaviors or actions) but also the evidence you will look for, or perhaps already possess, that proves you are embodying your Reframe(s) in all spheres of your life. Writing this book is a huge piece of my Reapply!
Questions for Reflection:
As you look back on your work in the five Rs, what are you discovering?
What role have your stories played in the development of your inner and outer voice?
What will the payoff be for holding your Reframes and Releases and committing to your Reapplies?
What other truer, more self-empowering stories could you be telling?
What would it cost you if you went back and lingered in the Recall and Relive of your old story (or stories)?
Make Moxie a Lifelong Habit
Once you illuminate the stories that have created a glass ceiling for your moxie, you have the power to shatter them. How? By making a new habit of telling better stories that reinforce who you are versus who you are not. Then and only then can you begin to address your self-talk, the sensation you experience when you speak up, and your actual speaking performance.
Just as I don’t remember the exact moment when I started to disappear, I also don’t recall quite when and how I started speaking up again. It happened in fits and starts. Having parents who told me I could do anything I set my mind to, and going to a progressive all-girls secondary school that every day reminded me that my voice mattered, certainly helped. So did winning that pageant and subsequently becoming a youth motivational speaker.
However, without learning how to rewrite my self-narrative or correcting my poor speaking habits, I was unable to ten-thousand-hours my way to lasting, unwavering speaking confidence — particularly when I had an audience beyond my peers. The first time I locked eyes with a junior high boy who looked disinterested in one of my teen empowerment audiences, all the old gremlins came back. And they were on steroids.
And so it went, from my late teens into my midtwenties. As an actor, I could get onstage and do a one-and-a-half-hour one-woman performance of Joan of Arc. As a trainer, I could facilitate professional development for teachers. I was effin’ brilliant whenever I got to hide behind a character or my expertise.
But in the moments when I was truly being seen by others, like when I’d strive to articulate a potentially unpopular opinion to a supervisor or introduce myself at a theater audition to a casting director, I’d become a bumbling mess all over again.
And the real bumbling, of course, happened in my inner monologues when I rehashed, and then beat myself up, afterward. Over. And over. Again.
What I want, my precious reader, is for you to become the heroine of your own narrative. I’m not interested in whether you turn that idea, or anything else that I share, into a cheesy affirmation.
I want you to possess the moxie to actually make it happen. I want you to learn, practice, and master the inner and outer work necessary to speak with confidence and competence whenever you open your mouth. And along the way, I want you to stop worrying about whether you are getting it right.
Because a lot of the time, you won’t be. And that’s okay. What’s considerably less okay is replaying your flops at the expense of forgetting your successes. I speak what it’s taken me most of my lifetime to learn. And remember.
I also really want you to unhook from the persistent drizzle of anxiety you (if you are like most ambitious, overachieving women I know and serve) carry with you throughout your life. People may laugh at you. They may call you names. You may pee on yourself. Multiple times. And you will survive. So please, take a moment and answer this very serious question:
What’s the worst thing that could happen if you consistently spoke your truth?
And once you answer it, ask yourself the equally important follow-up question:
And then what would happen?
And keep asking yourself this same follow-up question (and writing down your responses) until you can’t go any further. For example, you might find yourself writing:
People would lose respect for me.
I’d be out of a job.
I’d struggle to pay my mortgage.
I’d have to move in with my crazy Aunt Zelda and take care of her seven cats.
I’d have to subsist on ramen noodles (the ones in a package, not the swanky noodle shop kind).
I mean, you pretty quickly realize that there might be some situational suckiness, but you’d survive, right? So tango with your worst truth telling, visibility, and speaking fears. By going to the worst-case scenario, you liberate yourself to start considering what else might happen.
What’s the best-case scenario if you stepped into your moxie? Or even the pretty okay, albeit not totally perfect, scenario?
You mitigate anxiety by calling out, and having a plan in place for, the potential fallout from speaking up. But your other equally important, delicious work is to invest your time, energy, and sweat into setting yourself up for all the beautiful things that can happen when you are able to listen to, honor, and speak from your moxie. Habitually.
Excerpted from the book Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World. Copyright ©2018 by Alexia Vernon. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.
About the author
Alexia Vernon is the author of Step into Your Moxie. Branded a “Moxie Maven” by President Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement, she is a sought-after speaking and leadership coach who delivers transformational keynotes and corporate trainings for Fortune 500 companies and other professional groups and organizations, including the United Nations and TEDx.
Visit her online at www.alexiavernon.com.