Last week I had the privilege of being on the panel for the 4th Annual Women Empowering Women fundraiser, Stories that Inspire Change to raise money for the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education.

I was one of six women on the panel, and I have to say, the other five women, and our moderator, were some of the most extraordinary women I have ever met. We were given an opportunity to share our stories, and as it happens, I was seated last, so by the time my turn came around, I became acutely aware of just how powerful these women are.

As the mic was handed to me, I realized that there is a piece of my story that I haven’t shared, and one that I believe resonates with so many women; the power shame has on us and our ability to create the life and career that we want.

For the brief second before I spoke, I felt my own shame come flooding back.

You see, as each woman shared their story, they shared experiences of poverty, being the daughter of teenage parents, surviving molestation and fighting to break down all kinds of barriers to their success.   And as they spoke their words of courage and fierce determination, I could feel the shame I once felt.

My story is simply not that dramatic. I am not the product of rising up from adversity and challenge, I didn’t have to struggle for my education or opportunity. Instead, I simply reached a moment in my life where I had somehow gotten off track. I had lost sight of who I was and what I really wanted.

I had the house, husband, beautiful healthy children, resources, education and everything a girl “should” want, and yet I still felt unhappy. And because I had “it all”, I felt ashamed for wanting more.

I felt selfish, greedy, needy….and a whole lot of shame for not feeling more “gratitude” for all that I had.

There was no beating, cheating, or financial crisis, and yet I knew that I was not living the life I was meant to live; I was not becoming the woman I am meant to be.

So I ended my marriage, and in doing so, began the journey to letting go of what was to make room for what could be. And it felt incredibly uncomfortable.

As these amazing women shared their stories of bravery and grit, I realized that shame almost convinced me to stay where I was; to stay in mediocrity when excellence and success was what I wanted and where I belonged.

While I initially felt shame, it was not long until I realized that I didn’t need permission to be who I am meant to be. I didn’t need a justification to be, do and create a life and career that made me happy, and fulfilled my passion and purpose.

But how many of you and all women find themselves in lives and relationships that aren’t what they imagined they would be? And how many of you feel trapped, convinced by your own shame that you don’t have the right to take action to create what you truly desire?

Wanting more isn’t selfish, it is an act of courage and conviction.

And if you learn the skills of resilient leadership…personal leadership for professional success, you will create what you desire with intention, integrity and grace. You will be able to align your relationships, goals and desires in a way that gives you a life and career that feels exactly as you wish.

It isn’t magic or mystery, it isn’t for those “special” people, it is for each and every one of you. You just have to want it more than you are willing to stay where you are.

You never need permission to be who you’re meant to be.

You never need a justification to do whatever is necessary to become the best version of yourself.

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