We’re celebrating with Bethany Connor as she launches her new book, Cherished. To cap off her week of book launch celebrations, we’re honored to have her guest posting for Featured on Friday. Join us in buzzing about her big week – read the post, then send a tweet.

Fourteen years into my journey as an Army Nurse Corps officer, I seemed to be at the pinnacle of my career. I had fast tracked through the Army ranks, was promoted early, had received awards, was well known and well respected for my impact within the Corps. I was on my way to the top.

And yet, it was during that same time period where I struggled through the most challenging part of my life thus far, both personally and professionally. But I had been taught to keep it all together; to fake it till I make it; to never let them see me sweat. So, I did not share those struggles. Instead I kept on the masks and maintained the perception that I had it all together. After all, people were looking up to me. What would they think if they really knew the ‘truth’ about me?

What was the truth – the truth that even I did not own up to? The truth was that I was human. And just like every other human, I had struggles, and I had experienced pain. I did not understand the power of that truth. I did not understand that it was through the struggle that strength was giving birth.

“Think of the butterfly in its cocoon. It must struggle to get out of the cocoon in order to gain strength it needs to become a beautiful butterfly. If someone tried to help it out of the cocoon and it did not go through the process, then it would die and would not become the beautiful creation that it was meant to be.”

~ An excerpt from Cherished: One Woman’s Journey to Love and Be Loved

I did not understand the power of vulnerability: that I could be more powerful as a leader by being real. I could command more respect from those I worked with by taking off my masks and by stepping into my authenticity than by looking like I had it all together.

I had to hit rock bottom. I had to break down to break through. I had to come to a place of letting go, yet holding on to hope. It was there at rock bottom where I was able to embrace my humanity. I was able to accept the fact that I was imperfect and yet, I was imperfectly perfect just as I was.

“What is really hard, and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself”

~ Anna Quindlen

As I began to own my imperfections, to unmask and to allow my authenticity to shine through, I gave others the courage to do the same. I was able to take my leadership to a whole new level by being who I was designed to be – imperfectly, perfectly me.

This article was written by athentic leadership expert Bethany Connor. Bethany has a deep passion – awakening authentic leaders. Through speaking, facilitating and coaching, she supports the transformation process of individuals and organizations in creating culture change from the inside out. Bethany is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Nurse Corps and a Registered Nurse with an advanced degree as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. She also serves as a certified coach, speaker and trainer for The John Maxwell Team. Bethany is the author of Cherished: One Woman’s Journey to Love and Be Loved.  Connect with Bethany at www.acherishedwoman.com.

Image from Bethany Connor via Shutterstock