Moving forward from today, your life holds endless potential. You can make a difference, you can choose to go big, you can shine unapologetically and make that big, bold, beautiful impact that deep down you know you were meant for.
You have it in you to lead. Lead in your own life. Lead by example. Lead in front of the community that is waiting for what you have to bring to the table.
You know deep down that every word of this is true and applies to you. But there it is again, that hesitation that creeps up and tells you that maybe you can’t. Maybe you’re not good enough. The excuses bubble up, creating roadblocks, slowing you to a crawl and sending you back into hiding.
Where does this come from? One moment you know better—you see and feel the potential—and the next you’re stuck repeating old patterns and habits of inaction and disbelief. The keyword here is “old.” The hurts, big and small, from the past have a way of creeping up and affecting what we believe we can do today.
I began here by writing “moving forward from today,” and that was intentional. When you meet yourself where you are today, you can grow, expand, explore, and rise. However, when you fill today with reminders, examples, and hurts from the past, you let that past tell you that choosing to not lead today is the safest way to repeat what you’ve been through before.
So, how do you move forward? How do you let go and carve a new path for yourself? Begin by taking a look at what’s been holding you down. Flip those past hurts and examples into how you want to stand up and do it differently for the younger you who went through something hard.
This is stepping into your role as a leader by choosing to lead for yourself first. Show your younger you that there is a new way forward.
How? Look back, acknowledge, and accept that the past was hurtful but that today doesn’t have to look the same. Choose a new path forward. Here are seven examples of common hurts from the past that can hold you back.
1. You were misunderstood in primary and high school.
Maybe you were different, unique, or a little awkward. The other kids, struggling to find themselves, didn’t treat you with the kindness and acceptance you so badly wanted. Show that younger you some acceptance and love now. Your uniqueness makes you special. It puts you in the perfect position to lead. Shine bright. Stand true in you. You’ve got this.
2. You failed at something you really cared about.
Jeez, that hurts. Yes, falling down is unpleasant, but you’re older now and know how to stand back up. Your past is not your future potential. Failure is a part of the journey to the future. What separates “winners” and “losers” is getting back up, learning a lesson, making a change, and being willing to go after what you want. You’ve got this.
3. You let someone who mattered down.
It’s time to forgive yourself. Past you made mistakes. You didn’t necessarily deal in the best way, but you have another chance. You can take what you learned and use it to create healthy, strong relationships now. You can let others in. You can lead and know you’ll do your best, that you’re human, you may make mistakes, but you’ll move forward with care and the desire to do good.
4. Someone who mattered let you down.
Trust was broken, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trusting again. You have you to help you and see you through, but it’s safe to let others in too. You can’t control what they do, but choose to give people a chance again. Trust anyway, knowing you can step away from what isn’t good for you.
5. You had to look to others for answers.
The best leaders are willing to surround themselves with others who are driven and have knowledge beyond their own. You are meant to work with others. Yes, you will never know everything, but there will always be someone out there who knows a little less and could use the lessons you have gained so far. So, don’t be afraid to share. You are valuable.
6. Progress or success didn’t come easily.
Progress doesn’t need to come at lightning speed as long as you keep moving forward. You improve a little with each day. It’s not how fast you do it but that you give yourself permission to keep going with things you care about.
7. You’ve always been different
That desire to fit in is strong. Here’s the thing, though—every human is unique and has something different about them. Those who come to enjoy life the most, those who stand up and claim their truth and authenticity, find a newfound comfort in their skin. Be different. Call to those who are willing to stand by you and be inspired by your genuine self. It’s safe to leave behind those who can’t accept you for who you really are because who you really are is beautiful.
Keep searching through your days. What hurts, excuses, hesitations, or roadblocks that you see today really belong to yesterday? Acknowledge them. Send the younger you and the present you some love. Talk yourself through why you can today. Reclaim your potential. Take one baby step forward at a time.
Leadership begins with you and a willingness to guide yourself beyond your past. As you open up authentically to today, that leadership will grow. You’ll inspire others to do the same. You’ll stand firmer and firmer within your truth. You deserve to embrace the new beginning that each day offers. Go after it with love, acceptance, and leadership.