The Power of Owning Your Story

We all have parts of our story that are a little more difficult to own up to than others.

Since, as humans, we are wired to avoid pain, we often end up locking those portions of our tale up in a closet somewhere, never to see the light of day again.

But, if we decide to let them out into the light, and maybe even give them a little cuddle and say, “I get you” – something quite magical occurs.

Really, what it comes down to is this: You can own your story, or your story will own you. Either way, you can’t re-write the past, but you can influence the next chapter.

When I started a technology company in my living room at age 30 and grew it from $0 to $3 million in just three years, I thought I had arrived. I mean, by all versions of societal success, that’s about as arrived as one can get, eh?

However, almost as quickly as we rose into our PR friendly “success story,” things began to crumble.

As happens in business sometimes, I took a zig when I should have taken a zag. In hindsight I see my biggest mistake was not having a bad-ass finance guru by my side, looking over reports and then calling me up saying, “Dawn, what the hell are you doing? Do you want to go out of business?” Yeah, I needed that guy or gal. Because, you see, I was really good at making sales and growing the company. But, at the time, forecasting and managing cash-flow weren’t my strong points. I mean, I can manage my own piggy bank. But, when you’ve got millions coming in and going out to the tune of hundreds of transactions a month… things get complicated quickly.

Work your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. Business 101. Duh. How did I screw that up?

So, long story short, after 7 years in business, I decided to close the company. Err, well, the Universe decided for me. We were losing obscene amounts of money and the stress was too much. I was drained financially, emotionally, spiritually. And, it was time to move on, on. I think I handled it pretty well too. If “well” could take the form of feeling sorry for myself, and repeatedly asking the old, “whyyyy meeee?” Then, yes, I handled it like a champ!

In my mind, from a karmic standpoint, I had done everything right. I chaired non-profit events and gave freely of my time and money. I put my needs behind those of my employees and kept them on payroll while not paying myself. I was kind. I worked on myself daily. I helped people from the heart. So, what the heck did I do wrong?

Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Wait a second. This is what I had been praying for everyday. As part of my morning ritual, I had asked repeatedly to be guided to the people, places, and things that would help me grow into my highest and best self so that I could be of the most service and able to help others. I certainly never expected this to be gifted to me in the form of a failed “successful” business, though.

It took me over a year and a half to go from “Hey, thanks a lot Universe. Waaaay to have my back on that one” to realizing that everything was happening for my greater good. I was being pulled and stretched and expanded beyond belief so I could become more awake, stronger, and even more aligned with my soul’s purpose. And, once I finally helped myself, I was in a position to help even more people. The Universe was carving out a path for me. Now, I understand all that money I lost was my “tuition money.” For reals. Pain and loss are pretty darn good teachers. I have the equivalent to a master’s degree in financial know-how now. And, while I did have to tuck my tail between my legs and go work for one of my old competitor’s for a while, that was actually quite humbling. And, it gave me the space to know that I really, really, really want to be an entrepreneur. It also gave me crystal clarity on how I want to show up in the world and how I want to serve.

It’s funny how things come around full circle too. You see, as a little girl, I never said, “I want to sell electronic components when I grow up.” I just sort of accidentally fell into that industry. In fact, I always knew I would be a writer when I grew up. That is, until the world convinced me that I would never make any money doing that. So, instead, I majored in business, and found myself in a long career of sales and marketing. Ten-year-old me knew what was up, though. Now, I am back to my roots and fostering creativity and storytelling and copywriting for soul-centered entrepreneurs — all things closely connected with my life’s mission. It took me being really out of alignment to be able to come back home and see things so clearly.

Sharing this part of my story publicly is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. As a matter of fact, I have procrastinated, stared at blank screens, wrote and re-wrote more times than I care to admit. But, that just tells me how important it is to share. We live in a society where everybody puts up their highlight reels on social media. Our darkness stays hidden. We suffer alone. But, when we bring it into the light, pure magic happens. We heal. We give others permission to “fail” fantastically. We inspire them to own the parts of their story that they may feel shame around.

Brene Brown (who I absolutely adore) says, “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” Amen, sister. I had let mine define me for a little too long. But, stepping into full ownership, I feel empowered.

This time around, as I write my brave new ending and build new businesses that are more aligned with my purpose, I’ve decided to re-define success. It matters not how many zeroes are in the revenue numbers on the balance sheet at the end of the day. Instead, it matters how many hearts are touched, how many lives are changed, and how much creative fire flows.

Maybe you are reading this and see a reflection of a part of your own story inside of mine. Maybe today is the day you shift the perception and, instead of feeling shame around it, you own it as part of your truth. You don’t have to share it publicly (unless you want to… it feels kind of nice, actually). But just allow acknowledgement for the hidden gifts within… for the sake of your own healing. You are beautiful and magical and perfect, especially because of your flaws. Those cracks are what let the light in, baby. Be blessed. Be well.

Republished, as original appeared on Huffington Post.