In 2014 I left corporate and started my consultancy, The Chrysalis Crew. At the time I knew that the organisation would be much bigger than me. In terms of the purpose and the work that we were doing.
Many people at the time asked me why I didn’t call that company Kelly Swingler, but I knew the company was much bigger than me.
I had this period when I first started the business of being able to hide behind the Chrysalis brand name and logo. This kept me quite small. It wasn’t until I started to recruit a team that they said I was the face of the organisation. The reality is, that I was. People wanted to ‘buy’ me. But at the time all I wanted was to hide.
If we think about some of the big brands; we can associate them to a person.
I didn’t realise this as quickly as I should.
Years went on, I then became comfortable being on stage, I’d recovered from my corporate hangover and burnout and I was ready to go out in the world as ME again. I’ve delivered talks all over the world and with my coaching career, the amazing thing for me was to be able to support women with being seen, heard and being themselves.
Many of my clients are corporate women and as they start to live and lead from their core, create boundaries and create time for themselves, they automatically start to be seen and heard more. They bring more to the table, they have the confidence, the ambition, the energy and self belief.
When I started Kelly Swingler Ltd in 2021 and stepped away from Chrysalis, whilst the company, the branding and image was me, I thought that was enough and people would see this and associate it with me. But as we know, that’s not enough to grow a business.
A lot of the work I’ve been doing on myself over the last year or so, is based around my confidence to put myself out there more, to not quieten the message and to not hide parts of me.
Over the last 2 months I have joined new masterminds and women’s groups as a participant. I know I am a really good coach for my clients, but I also know that some of the questions I ask them are not always easy for me personally to answer or get through. Working on myself, growing and developing, makes me a better coach for my clients.
Sometimes we need that outside person to ask us the question we wouldn’t even think of asking ourselves. Sometimes I need someone with the right key to open the door to enable me to move forward in the right direction.
In the group chat of one of these groups I saw many women dulling down themselves and not being their authentic selves. For example; they want to say one thing to their boss, but instead say another. Just seeing this all written down got me thinking how many of us are still dimming our own light.
Somewhere along the line, we have been taught, conditioned and allowed ourselves to believe that in order for our message to be heard and for us to be seen, we have to continue to dull ourselves in some way, make ourselves more appealing and easier for people to swallow.
How many times have you wanted to have a difficult conversation with someone and speak your truth, but it feels in doing so you will be creating a challenge or difficulty?
How often have you stuttered in those conversations?
How often have you held back?
How often have you not had the outcome you want?
In my corporate days I had to write a lot of boring as hell long reports. Sometimes I would want to put more of ‘me’ into them. But then as I’d been conditioned to believe, it needed to be formatted in a certain way, have specific things in it, sound a certain way. But do you know what? Nobody ever read those 10 page reports. I would actually end up summarising them into a couple of paragraphs.
I remember having a conversation with the Chief Exec and some board members one day and I asked why we are doing this to ourselves. Why bother writing these long reports no one ever read? Their response was that it's always done this way and what if we need evidence of it one day?? In the end we were able to start doing things differently after I spoke up and brought attention to it.
Many of the things I have been acknowledged and rewarded for are the bits where I’ve shown up as me. When I’ve felt the need to be a bit duller or strip parts of me out of the equation, it doesn’t land the same way. I don’t feel the same level of excitement or energy.
All those times that I’ve hidden behind my brand or my logo, then realised actually people don’t give a toss about my logo or all of that. What people are engaging in and buying, is ME.
They want the energy, honesty and they want me.
If you're working in or running organisations and you’re tempted to ask for people or yourself to be a little bit less, you have to start thinking about the consequences of that. The consequences are: we are dulling ourselves and our message. We are not saying what needs to be said and people then aren’t hearing what needs to be heard. If we’re not showing up in the way we need, people aren’t seeing the real us.
Every time we are a little bit less than ourselves, we strip away the energy, we strip away the enthusiasm and we strip away the core message. We make things sound ‘beige’, so then people are receiving beige.
If I’m not speaking up as me or being seen as me, then I’m hiding.
Whether you’re working in corporate, running your own business or self-employed; we need you to be YOU.
Every time we dull ourselves down, we are taking one step further away from who we are at the core and one step closer to burnout and exhaustion.
Give yourself the permission to really be seen and heard just as you are.
In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family. Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful.
Today at kellyswingler.com, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.