The Only Way You Can Really Hurt Me

To Be a Woman Team

To Be a Woman Team

I was in Atlanta last week at the World Trade Center launching To Be a Woman, a global platform for the empowerment of women, into corporate America. It was a divinely successful event and I was so proud and honored to be part of the To Be a Woman Team.

But a situation occurred just before the event that could have made it a very different experience for me. You see, an event attendee came up to me unexpectedly while I was alone in a hallway and physically threatened me. I had never experienced anything like it, and never dreamed of it happening to me, particularly in an executive building. To be honest, I was so stunned I truly don’t remember what this person was saying to me at the time.

In the next few moments I realized I had a choice:

  1. Let the experience and feeling of being a victim wobble me and take me “off my game”
  2. Take my power back and go do my job brilliantly

I chose #2 because the only way you can really hurt me is to prevent me from “shining my light” in this world, and I wasn’t going to give this person that power over me. (Although, admittedly, I spent a few minutes feeling quite wobbled.)

I went out and did what I’m here on this Earth to do: to speak, to facilitate, and to help others empower themselves by sharing my own experiences. I “rocked it” with an extra dose of “rock” for good measure. Because I had to.

The same is true for all of you.

The only way others can really hurt you is if they keep you from shining your light – your unique set of gifts that no one else exudes quite the way you do – in this world.

Here’s the critical point:

The only one who can prevent us from actually shining our light is ourselves. But so often we give this power to others. We let what they say or do to us make us believe that we either:

  • Don’t have a light to shine (People who have a lack of self-worth or control issues sometimes try to make us feel this way)
  • Aren’t worthy of shining our light (People who are insecure sometimes try to make us feel this way)
  • Shouldn’t shine our light (People who are jealous don’t want us to succeed)

It’s not easy to take back that power we so easily give to others. It takes tremendous self-awareness and time spent letting go of emotions and fears that hold us back.

But as leaders, it’s our responsibility to shine our light, because it’s a gift!

I am blessed to be part of a beautiful team of women, and so many people comment on how there’s not an ounce of jealousy among or between us. They’re right. It’s because we all honor each other’s special gifts and talents that we bring to this world. When each member of my team is “doing her thing” I am inspired and awed.

When I got up and spoke at the World Trade Center and looked at my team in the audience, I saw looks that said, “You go girl.” Because there is no jealousy when we as individuals and as leaders honor the special gifts that others bring to our companies and organizations. We each have a unique light and we shine them in our own special way. So why try to compete or be someone we’re not?

When someone doesn’t understand this and tries to threaten you and take you off your game, or to make you feel devalued in some way, just shine that light even brighter! It’s why you’re here, my fellow leaders!


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Photo of To Be a Woman Team from Atlanta Zrii event.


  1. Lisa, are you ok?, that is terrible, sounds like poor security at the facility.

    • I’m absolutely fine and wasn’t hurt, Keith. Thanks so much for the concern and to be honest, their security is great – I don’t think anyone would have seen this coming. Thank you again!

  2. So, true, so true, so true!!! I don’t know how to overcome this situation of the heart as quickly as you did! I’m usually shaken for a while. I think that’s because I typically feel blind-sided and can’t understand or make sense of the “attack”.Even when people explain that the attack was really all about the other person, I’m still left to decide whether or not I will pull myself together and continue “shining my light”, as you say.!!! But I agree, it’s a choice…the only good one for my life!
    I really needed to hear this! Thanks!
    Betsy Cross´s last blog post ..Family History Sunday Series 1:4 Don’t Do Your Family History Like My Six-Year-Old Mows the Lawn!

    • Betsy, I wrote the post in hopes that the experience of trying to get my power back would resonate with others. I’m so glad it was a message you needed to hear and hope my own experience is helpful to you in the future. Thank you so much for taking the time to share here – I sincerely appreciate it!

  3. Lisa, I am so glad you are safe. You take such a positive approach to life and shine the light for many of us. Praise God you are okay.Like so many of your personal moments you have shared, this will be another step in your journey to help others.

    Hope to be on LeadershipChat tomorrow…. sometimes “life gets in the way” of enjoying the good stuff!

    Craig Juengling´s last blog post ..Employee Engagement and the Louisiana SHRM Conference

  4. First, this person is lucky none of your friends that read this blog were around at the time! Second, success is the best revenge. I think the message here is that if you are really good at what you do, then eventually people will try to take advantage of that.

    Kudos to you Lisa for handling a situation you should have never been in, with grace and elegance. I know your team appreciates you even more for how you handled this.
    mack collier”´s last blog post ..Is Social Media Turning Us All Into Attention Whores?

  5. I love your stuff, Lisa. It’s just so refreshing.

    After about 40 straight days of wanting to stop by and just say “YOU ROCK GIRL”… I am finally getting off my ass and doing that.


    Dan Waldschmidt


    • Dan, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that! Especially because I feel the same way about your posts – I think we’re both on the same page. :) All the best to you and thank you so much for being here!

      • Yay! Love is in the air. :-)

        But with so much passive agression and pain in the corporate world there does need to be a relentless counterbalance to the hurt many executives feel.

        Keep being awesome, girl. We should figure out something edgy to do together. Could be fun……

        Dan Waldschmidt

        p.s. Ignore me. It’s Monday and I finally got some sleep. So I am wound up and ready to slay the dragon…

  6. Ah, Lisa…. You are such a strong, giving person. A friend of mine sent me a video over the weekend as kind of a push to spread my wings, stop thinking I’m a chicken, and soar with the eagles. I’m so happy you are one of the eagles I get to play with. You continually amaze me.

    I’m happy nothing came of the physical altercation – and you were able to do what you do, and you had your fellow eagles with you to let you know they are happy you are in their nest!

    Blessings, Georgia
    Georgia Feiste´s last blog post ..Marketing 101 – Growing Pains

    • Georgia, what a beautiful message – thank you from the bottom of my heart. Yes, I am so blessed to have my team, but I also feel so grateful to have my online team of goddesses whose writing inspires me every day. Thank you for being a part of that group! You have such gorgeous wings…they will take you to amazing heights when you leave all fear behind. :) Hugs to you!

  7. Good morning Lisa,

    Your experience and the words you shared were exactly what I needed today after a painful weekend. Thanks for being a light in the world. Your choice made a difference.
    Scott Mabry´s last blog post ..Leadership Bliss

  8. I’ve spent the past few years documenting the things that throw me off my game. As I wrote them down, I realized that they stemmed from one thing: having my intentions misunderstood.

    Once I realized the problem, I could take insults or criticisms in stride. Usually, the misunderstandings said more about the other person than they said about me. And, the situations would not be easily fixed.

    I suppose it all comes down to control. I can control my behavior – but I cannot control the feelings or behaviors of others.

    The thing I’ll never get: What makes a persona think it’s okay to be mean? I don’t get mean (but I’m okay with “not getting it” now).

    Janet |
    Janet Abercrombie´s last blog post ..Classroom and Student Blogs: Advice from the Masters

    • Janet, you’re right. The way others *handle* situations is a reflection of them, not of us. I was completely surprised because I had never seen behavior like that in a corporate setting. It was entirely unprofessional. And I agree with you, it’s ok to say, “I don’t get it,” or “help me understand,” or whatever it takes to be fully understood. But crossing a line should never be ok in business, let alone in life. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here – I appreciate your perspective!

  9. I think you are doing a disservice to survivors of physical and sexual assault when you so casually tell them to simply “shine their light” after something traumatic. If only it were that easy. So many women–even professionals like yourself–have been victims of violence, and a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” attitude is essentially telling them to suck it up and accept the unacceptable. If I were you (and I have been in that situation before), I wouldn’t have let it slide. I would’ve used it as a teachable moment during your speech. We only really rid ourselves of sexism in the workplace if we shine our light ON it and bring it out into the open for others to see.

    • Hi Jen, if I had been physically or sexually assaulted that may have been the case. But I was very careful to say I was threatened, but not assaulted. And given the person was a woman, sexism was not involved. I knew in the moment that this woman did not want me to succeed that day, and going out there and “shining my light” was exactly what I needed to do. I don’t believe in any way my story represents, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Instead, it represents the power of getting out of “victim energy” and being wholly in our purpose. I didn’t let it slide…I took my power back. And she knew it. Thanks for sharing your perspective here, I appreciate it sincerely.

      • I apologize for assuming the aggressor was a man, and I’m not entirely sure how serious the threat was. However, it doesn’t change the feeling I got from reading this article, which on the whole felt like victim-blaming. So often have people written articles about how to “take back your power,” placing the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the victim and dismissing (if not absolving) the aggressor as merely an annoyance who lacks a special light (or common decency), or what have you. As a woman, I’d be interested in hearing how you dealt with a fellow female professional, albeit an aggressive one. Was it a personal matter or does it speak to a culture of needless competitiveness/rivalry among women in business? Thanks for your response.

        • Jen, I am so sorry you felt a sense of victim blaming. I can only speak for myself, not other women. For me, getting out of that “victim energy” was critically important for my own personal success that day. It was empowering. In the past, I might not have been able to do it – I might have been drowning in it all day, which would have only served the higher good of the other woman, and not of myself. For me, it was more powerful to let go than to hold onto victim energy, anger, and negativity against the other person which would not have served me. I will be smarter about dealing with this person in the future as we will need to continue to work together. I have actually forgiven her and moved on…I want her to be successful, yet not at my expense.

  10. Hi Lisa,
    Great article. What strength pours out of the words you wrote and in fact, out of making the 2nd choice! I think it’s wonderful that you turned a bad experience into such a motivational piece. I’m with Betsy: definitely needed to hear this.

  11. I wish I had been there for you, Lisa.

    While I have never been physically threatened, I know the wobbly feeling you are talking about. When I was a teaching assistant while in grad school, I would sort of get this feeling that I was respected and that I was on a good path. I had great friends, I was studying great stuff, and I was even helping to teach people. But one day, as I was walking down the hall, this guy started asking me really rude questions – I can’t even remember what they were except that it had to do with my short stature. Unfortunately, I got to feel as small as he was on the inside. I could have melted into the floor. It stinks to be taken off your ground like that.

    I am afraid I did not react as wonderfully and as strongly as you. I got really really upset and felt really crappy about it for a while. Mad props to you for holding your ground. But then again, I’d expect nothing less.
    margie clayman (@margieclayman)´s last blog post ..Myth: Opens are the best way to measure email marketing success

    • Margie,

      It means the world to me that you would share your personal story here. It’s fully natural to feel as you did – I felt the very same way. I just knew I had about two minutes to get it together and make a decision about my mindset because I had a room full of people about to arrive. And I’ve had brilliant guidance to help me understand the importance of dealing with the negativity as soon as it’s felt, so it doesn’t get absorbed into my pores, heart and then soul. I’m so sorry you went through this. I hope it ultimately led to you feeling more secure about everything that’s brilliant and beautiful and powerful about you! Hugs, my friend.

  12. Janice Burns says:

    You always try to triumph over difficult and dangerous situations. What goes on in your head afterwards are two different situations. Personally, I’m an ordinary person with all the same feelings. Sometimes acceptable to my true self and most times not. Always a little flawed. Janice


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