Hey Daring Learners,
Today I have a story for you.
I am now leading a small group in a storytelling community. My group members are from the U.S., Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Austria.
We have three native speakers and three non-native speakers of English in the group.
10 years ago, I thought that leading and inspiring a team of native speakers was an impossible task for me.
I mean, they would immediately see that I was a fraud!
They'd immediately notice my accent, my lack of clarity, and my struggle for the right words. They would hate the fact that it's taking me forever to articulate one simple idea.
10 years ago, I was quite comfortable speaking English, but I was terrified of taking responsibility, making decisions, and being authentic when communicating in an English-speaking community.
People overestimate and at the same time misunderstand the idea of community. They want to find a community of English native speakers so that
they can use the new connections to find a better job and improve their English. They need a community so that
they can use the community resources to build a better career or social life.They join communities and international projects to take, but they rarely think about giving.A community is a place for mutual benefit.
If you want to find your place in a new country, a new team, or a new community, think about the things you can give.What do you give in relationships?Here is the secret to answering this question:
you don't know the answer. Other people do. You don't know what you give people until they tell you.
Here is what the native-speaking members of the storytelling community say I give them:
- "Your feedback is gold!"
- "You hold me accountable because you genuinely care"
- "You're not afraid to call me out on my bullshit! You're not afraid to tell me, "I don't believe this story", and this helps me dig deeper and find the true meaning
- "You are such an inspiring leader"
- "You see what others can't see. You can put into words that I can only feel"
- "Your stories are powerful. They make me instantly connect with the parts of myself that I never paid attention to"
When I know what people receive in our communication, I can give more of it. I can consciously help people with my insights and feedback.
I learned that people appreciate my feedback, and this realization has helped me to own my story.
My own hero's journey and personal transformation has been huge, but I didn't see much value in it because it's just what I do. I do it every day. It's become so normal for me that I stopped seeing it.
That's where the community power lies - in seeing, recognizing, and appreciating others for what they are.
People see in you what you don't see about yourself. They look at you the way you'll never look at yourself.
I listen to my native-speaking group members like no one has listened to them before. I bring a different perspective, a new set of values, and a lot of human warmth.Sometimes being a non-native speaker is what's valuable because you bring a fresh perspective.
However, you need to articulate your thoughts and feelings with clarity for people to understand your perspective.
To lead an English-speaking team, you need to give. You need to know what you give best and the best way to give it. Once you know, keep strengthening these qualities.
To lead, you need to make decisions and communicate your decisions to the team.
If you've found yourself in an English-speaking country or a global company not knowing how to lead, be seen, and
give back to the community, the first thing you need to learn is to stop hiding. I know, it's almost an instinct. You think they might see a fraud, so you hide. You're scared of making mistakes in the presence of these important people, so you hide. You are insecure about your accent, so you prefer not to speak at all, and you hide. You don't know how to give even though you want to, so you hide behind "taking." You keepreminding others of your achievements and credentials trying hard to prove that you have the right to "take". But all you want to is belong and find your place among these people.
My story started in March 2023. I joined a storytelling community as a member. I had a selfish goal: I wanted to learn to create better content for my Instagram.
Three months later, I was nominated to share my story with the entire community. Then I was asked to lead the same group I was a member of. Last week, I was invited to be a guest on the founder's podcast. You'll be able to hear it in August.I never asked to be a leader. My lesson here is that I AM A LEADER. Not because I proclaimed myself to be one, but because people follow voluntarily. My leadership skills are obvious to others, and it's time for me to stop shying away from such opportunities.
If people recognize you as a leader too, maybe it's time for you to step up your game.
If people recognize you as a brilliant sales person, presenter, or C-level executive when you speak your first language, but you don't know how to give people the same in English, you need to stop hiding and start learning to express who you are in English so people can see you.
When you allow people to see you, and you can see them, you feel that you belong.
I changed countries three times. I know what it means to be an immigrant and start a new life from scratch. Trust me, I know how hungry people are for the sense of belonging.
I also know that it's absolutely possible for a non-native speaker of English to find their place in an English-speaking community and build meaningful relationships: with colleagues, clients, your significant other, or your own children.What do you give in relationships?What can you do more of to stop hiding and start giving?
Feel free to respond to this email with your thoughts and reflections. I might have some feedback for you, because I'm really good at seeing what people hide and hearing what people can't put into words.best,Natalia