“Grace takes you places hustle can’t.” -Liz Gilbert
I remember standing in the shower of the Zenith house, crying hard into the blast of hot water on my face. At just 27 years old I felt washed up, my deflated pride felt like a punchline, felt like after a short stint in LA and a few projects that imploded right before my eyes I had blown my only chances at being a producer and would never get the opportunity again. I will always remember this moment in that shower where I hung my face in my hands and pleaded with God, begged God that I would do anything to be given the chance again to lead people, if only God could use a girl with broken finances and a shattered heart and fractured leadership skills.
I was tired. I had no drive left within me to start something new — the “hustle hard” message had left me haggard, I was bitter and burned out. But I had this little production company with my husband that was just one year old; and with 50% of our livelihood depending on me pulling my shit together and becoming a real business woman, I knew I had to, but simply had no idea how.
The only way to do what I do not know how to do is to show up open-handed before God — the divine, the source of all living things — and be humble.
I stayed in this figurative posture, head low, an ear to the ground hearing what God wanted to say….to me. I expected punishment, or if nothing else a quick reprimand and action items for success, homework I could do to restore my position and reinstate my pride. What I got instead was an ear full of God’s truest opinion of me, and fact is, that opinion has no place for my pride. Pride leads me back to myself, my accomplishments, which works for a while but if I look to those things for fulfillment, I realize I don’t amount to much on my own, and I will always be striving for MORE. Turns out God thinks the world of not just me, but of all of us — not so we can inflate and tower over each other, but rather that we can see ourselves in the truest light of God’s love, and reflect that light to others who may not see it for themselves.
God illuminates our lives not for show, but so others can see the light in themselves.
I developed an ear for the steady beat of God’s heart, it beats for all people and it beats for me even when I have no rhythm to bring of my own. Grace, it became an ear worm, a constant buzzing, until it became my freedom song:
I am loved, I am forgiven and redeemed, I am enough; I don’t need to search the whole world for more because in the light of God’s love and the sacrifice of God’s son I am enough. I am enough. I am enough!
Four years later I am standing at an annual forum for the BWC, the Business Women’s Circle, a group I cannot recommend enough to women at any stage in business. This year’s forum is all about finding your purpose, and we are instructed at registration to reach into a bin and select a word that speaks to us, then affix it to our lanyards. I arrive at the same time as my +1, Kadra; we both unintentionally choose “Intention” as our word and have a seat at the table closest to the exit, furthest from the front. I like to be in the back so I can really absorb an event and get the most out of it. I now run not one but three businesses at very differing stages, so this particular event could not come at a more perfect time when I am really defining not only the purpose and intentions for these businesses but for myself, my life.
A video we created at Kylee and Christian kicks things off, and the forum begins with cheers and a few tears from moved audience members. Our friend Nora is emceeing the event, making 200+ business women laugh like nobody’s business, and as I look around from where I’m sitting I can see the entire room, and I couldn’t be more humbled and pleased to see so many familiar faces of women who have cheered me on in my businesses and let me encourage them as well.
After lunch, we learn why we’d been asked to select a word from the bin at the beginning. All of the tables have been labeled, and would you guess where the word Intention falls in the table scheme?
Right in the front. Closest to the speaker. Best seats in the house.
Kadra and I are sponges soaking up what the panels and keynote have to say, taking photos of powerpoint, writing notes, live tweeting, loving it. During her closing remarks, Nora is thanking the sponsors and looks in my direction and says into the mic, “Kylee Leonetti is sitting up here, Kylee is one humble — I almost cussed from the stage — she’s so humble, and she made the video for this event.”
Grace will take you places hustling can’t.
Humility paved the way of grace, giving way for me to become the person I am today.
Humility is a posture a stance anyone can take regardless of which side they’re on. And then I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Luke 16 —
10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of the other guests. 11For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Most days I still do not feel much like a business person, much less a business owner. Yet as I waited in line after the event to fangirl over one of the speakers — Nancy Lyons, founder of Clockwork, author, and overall champion for women (and men!!!) — I told my friend Kateri I want to live more like Nancy does, being unabashedly who I am all of the time, Full Time ME (stole that from Meg Lewis who hired a copywriter to name her course Full Time You and the name really resonated with me!!), and encourage others to show up fully as they are too.
And Kateri just looks at me and says, “Kylee – YOU ALREADY DO THAT.”
If God can use me to do that….then I’m convinced there isn’t anyone God *can’t* use, if we show up open-handed and stay humble.
I was brought so very low back then so I could experience the never-endingness of grace, and see firsthand how deeply I need God.
I am no better or worse than anyone. But in God? I have and I am enough.