Often you’ll hear people talk about the X factor in show business. The statement, ‘She has the X factor’ will often be followed with, ‘You can’t learn that’.
Actually I agree that you can’t learn it. You can learn to be technically proficient. You can learn techniques to minimise nerves. You can repeat a skill enough times that it feels very natural to you.
But you can’t learn to shine and you can’t learn authenticity.
That’s not a process of learning. It’s a process of unlearning.
I believe everyone has the X factor. We’re born with it. It’s an innate part of being a human being. What happens though, is that we’re taught not to let our X factor shine through.
We’re taught that by well meaning teachers and parents and friends who don’t let us be ourselves. People who try and fit us into a box of acceptability because they want us to succeed and to fit in. they don’t want us to be teased or bullied or misunderstood.
So we’re not taught to nurture our X factor. We’re taught to suppress it.
This is why I love diving deep on my own inner good girl; because I want my X factor to shine, and my inner good girl is really good at suppressing it.
When I worked in corporate law in my early twenties, my inner good girl was out in full force. She was fond of wearing nylon stockings and suits and high heels. (All items of clothing I find to be incredibly uncomfortable.) She was always saying yes and she was working hard to please her bosses.
(She was also taking more than one long deep breath before she even entered the office in an attempt to push down all the parts of her that were crying out, ‘This isn’t for you! This isn’t what you’re supposed to be doing with your life.’ But of course, she didn’t want to hear that because that would mean she’d have to consider making choices that would see her not fitting in, and not behaving as expected. The good girl loves to fit in and meet other people’s behavioural expectations.)
Once I gave myself permission to live life on my own terms though – a permission I have to re-visit every few years; each time I dream a bigger dream for myself – I threw away those nylon stockings and hope to never see another pair as long as I live. I stopped wearing high heels in favour of bare feet, and I put on my comfy jeans or yoga pants and found a job that was consistent with my desire to wear them.
(That’s something people don’t realise by the way; your job always matches your inner world view about what is and isn’t acceptable. If you’re telling yourself, ‘I’d love to wear jeans to work but that’s not possible for me’, then of course you’re always going to have a job that doesn’t allow you to wear jeans. You have to decide first that you’re allowed to show up and be yourself. That you’re allowed to follow what’s right for you in life. Once you do that, then the new ‘jean friendly’ job always shows up.)
When you run your own business, the good girl shows up with a story about what your videos should look like and what your interviews should sound like and how you should appear on stage at a speaking gig. She stops you from being yourself and nudges you toward being a more polished, more refined, more professional version of you.
Which seems fine in theory. Except the result is that you end up being less authentic, more stiff and stilted, and less relatable than you would otherwise be.
And guess what?
People don’t buy from people they feel are unauthentic. Even when that inauthenticity comes from nerves and not from any genuine attempt at subterfuge.
The good girl needs permission. She needs permission to be herself. To make mistakes, to get it wrong, to not be perfect, to look the way she looks, to sound the way she sounds. The good girl will always be trying to fit into an image of who she should be and while she’s doing that, she’ll never connect with her community in a really genuine way. She’ll never let her X factor shine.
When she finally receives permission and realises that she is enough, just as she is, then she can start to build an audience that cares about what she has to say and sell. Then she can start to build a community of raving fans. But she has to know that she’s enough at the cellular level. She has to embody that knowing in her being; not just know as an idea she agrees with.
You have to learn to give yourself permission to show up as you. Not as a best version of you, a shiny version of you, a better educated, more beautiful, or thinner version of you. You. Just as you are. That’s when you’ll finally allow your X factor to shine through.
You don’t need to learn the X factor. You were born with it. You just need to clear out the layers that have been piled on top of it.
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