Just Be Yourself: 4 Lessons I Learned from Martha Stewart

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Back when Martha Stewart was famous for making gourmet menus and extravagantly creative entertaining look easy, I vividly remember wanting to throw dinner parties with the same style and flair.

Not only was her presentation unique, she recommended that you make the furniture, napkins, and table decorations by hand and from scratch. She set the bar ridiculously high.

I worked 80 hour weeks—and traveled most of the time—and knew that I could never host a Martha Stewart dinner party with the same elegance she did. This did not keep me from trying, and ultimately failing. Instead of laughing it off, I felt terrible and like I was not enough without the napkins folded like swans, the hand-appliqued tablecloths, delicately engraved wine glasses and hand-calligraphy name cards.

Role models like Martha—the ones who appear endlessly creative, super-productive, organized, fit, wealthy— kept me circling what I now call “the unworthiness cycle” frequently and rapidly. I would start out with what seemed like a good idea but then when it didn’t go well because my expectations were unreasonable and too high, I ended up feeling even worse about myself and like a failure.

One day I decided enough was enough! Instead of trying to BE Martha Stewart, I was going to analyze her—and the unrealistic bar she’d set for women across the world.

Here are 4 things I learned:

  • Martha had a large team of people helping her create these elegant and unique parties. A team to make the furniture. A team to fold the napkins. A team to engrave the wine glasses. A team to hand-calligraphy name cards. A team to create 2 of the appetizers. Another team to make 2 more appetizers. A team to make the desserts. I could never compete with her because I did not have a team.
  • She liked creating unique events and relished in the preparation right down to the tiniest detail. This is not where my gifts and talents lie nor did I enjoy it. I wanted my dinner parties to be all about connection—not people marveling at the table decorations or name cards.
  • Her fame took its toll on her personal life and after a bitter 3 year separation her marriage ended in divorce. I was not willing to let my marriage fail over an elegant dinner party.
  • She never seemed to sleep. I love to sleep.

Bottom line: I am so NOT Martha! Trying to be someone else keeps me in the Unworthiness Cycle, which always leads to feeling bad and affirming that I am a failure. I learned that being myself —not redecorating my kitchen— is the way to create authentic connections between me and other people and is MY recipe for success.

In my upcoming book, You Are Worthy, I talk about being authentic and living life in the Worthiness Cycle. Honoring your authenticity is being true to yourself and others. When you live life authentically you feel worthy—and are like a breath of fresh air.

It takes a lot less energy to walk in your own magnificence than it does pretending to be what you think the world thinks you should be. Because you aren’t operating under false pretenses, people like to be around you. When you do not present false pretenses to others, they do not feel the need to present them to you. What a relief!

Besides, Martha Stewart is taken. Just be yourself.

 

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