The universal human experience holding me back - shame

Why do we put up facades in our relationships?

Hmm. A question for the ages, isn’t it?

Our tendency to create facades is a stumbling block for effective leaders. It holds us back from showing the vulnerability and building the trust we need to lead.

I think shame is what fuels these facades. They’re like walls we put up that say, “don’t look too closely!” We use them to hide the reality that we don’t think we’re as good as we perceive others to be. 

It’s shame around being inadequate — not good enough for the task ahead.

It’s not the same as imposter syndrome in my experience. It’s not that I don’t belong or know enough, but that I don’t go for it the way I could.


If I were a white man, I might feel more comfortable going for it with confidence that I’ll be accepted. But as a woman of color, I’ve learned to be careful. The minute I make a mistake, I’m not getting any grace. And I don’t want to lose the reputation I’ve built over the years!

This is something I’m working on within myself. I’m very accomplished, yet shame is holding me back like a lead ball and chain around my ankle. The shame of being inadequate is a universal human experience.

We’ve all had moments, many in our early childhood, of being mocked or rejected. How can we blame our young selves for learning to put up facades as protection?

But now that we’re older, wiser, and better resourced, we can stop clutching at these facades. We can embrace our true selves in our technicolor confidence and uncertainty, all the beautiful things we accomplish and the deep flaws we have, and we can love them all without judgment.

And when we do, we become the leaders we’re meant to be.

My Latest:

  • My new podcast launches today! I finally did it. After years of thinking about it, I jumped in with a first season of 10 episodes about “The New Rules of Disruption”. You’ll hear the best of my research and writing distilled into 10 Rules for how leadership must transform. Each episode has pragmatic tips on how to get started transforming your leadership. I hope you’ll check it out! Find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player.

  • Free manifesto writing workshop! Whenever I lead this workshop, I hear, "I wish I'd done this when I was 25!" Well, you're never too old and it's never too late. Join me tomorrow (Wednesday) at 9 am PT / 12 pm ET on LinkedIn Live, and walk away with your unique leadership manifesto. Whether you're an individual contributor or in the c-suite, your leadership will have exponentially more impact when you have a manifesto. We'll start with a rant, and ranting is always fun 😂.

  • In 1980, Michael Osheowitz established an internship program for students of color interested in investment banking careers. The first summer, they had 11 interns. Today, 14,000 students have gone through the program, and 75% have received full-time offers to work in investment banking. How did Michael sell his idea to large banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley? In Leading Disruption I shared Michael’s secret!

Good Things:

  • Good Reads: this one is an oldie but a goldie: Mindset by Carol Dweck. Reminding myself of the power of a growth mindset always gives me an energy boost.

  • Referrals: One of my favorite ways to be mindful and productive is using the Pomodoro technique. When I’m putting something off or perfectionism is slowing me down, the only way I can get myself to my desk is with a deadline — so I create an artificial one with the app Focus Keeper (iOS Android).. I like to do 45 minute working sprints, but the amount of time could be anything. I even know an author with ADHD who uses 7 minute sprints! During my breaks I’ll do anything from burpees to deep, meditative breathing.

  • Resource: I am obsessed with the online pharmacy, Alto. It’s an astonishing service that delivers your prescriptions to your doorstep within hours. No more frustrating last-minute trips to the pharmacy — I just use the app to ask for a refill, and it shows up at my door by that evening. Talk about disruption!

And a big thank you to Workplace from Facebook for sponsoring and and supporting the Disruption Dispatch.