My coaching client is a woman who was not raised in the US but has been working in the country for a total of about 15 years. Lately, she has being asked to present herself as a “minority” who has made it in her firm. She’s recently been featured in a business magazine, has spoken on minority leadership panels, and is being regularly consulted for tips on how to succeed. It’s an interesting situation in that she harbors doubts about her identify and success. In fact, a year ago in our first coaching session she shared with me her trauma of moving to the US and her sense of alienation. Now since her recent promotion, she is struggling with how to represent herself. In fact, she feels ambivalence about being a minority “poster child”, and is uncertain about what she did exactly that made her stand out among her peers. She is puzzled why there hadn’t been others before her to be the famous success story. She asks herself if she has really made it? Has she smashed some kind of “ceiling”? She feels that there is always a another cultural ceiling to smash. So what should she say to people? She mused that she could tell people her story, how people in her family didn’t want her to work outside the home. She could tell people she simply has worked very hard to get where she is. She thought that was true. But was that all, she wondered? In sum, she was at a loss about what to say.
I reminded her that she had just outlined the speaking points to her next presentation. Her story is already written from what she just relayed. Her comments about her ambivalence, her uncertainty, her puzzlement, and her sense of needing to smash more ceilings….This is her authentic story. Her real experience. That is, in fact, what people want to know.