TV host, communicator talks about showing up as your full self
Posted on July 18, 2022 | By Ashley Fitzpatrick | 0 Comments
Professional communicator Nancy Regan never planned for her book From Showing Off to Showing Up: An Imposter’s Journey from Perfect to Present to be a business title. Regardless, as she shared with Atlantic Business Magazine, there has been a wave of response from new entrepreneurs, managers and CEOs alike.
Released this spring, the non-fiction title sees Regan reflecting on her past work and life experiences, describing her day-to-day as being “like performance art” for a long time. Ultimately, she reveals a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. The entire work comes across as a rough guide to help readers through a little self-reflection of their own.
In the book, Regan recounts moments from her youth, her entrance into broadcasting, time hosting shows including CTV’s Live at 5 (where she spent 15 years), time with Good Morning Canada and That News Show on TVtropolis, and days from her work to date as an actor in film and television shows including Haven and Trailer Park Boys. A podcaster, host, emcee and more, she openly and strikingly describes battling through intense feelings of imposter syndrome at work and an at-times obsessive fear of failure.
It’s remarkably candid writing for someone who has almost universally been seen on air entirely together, composed, even relaxed. For all of what the public was able to see, with more going on behind the scenes, with multiple voices coming through in her earpiece during a Live at Five show, for instance, little of her real feelings were outwardly visible. But for as well as she would perform on a daily basis, her internal monologue was endless and highly critical.
“I was terrified of failure,” she recalls, speaking recently to what she later identified as a challenging and fixed mindset steeped in insecurities.
“Even down to the simplest way. When I was on live TV, if I would trip over a word, I would — instead of just continuing and letting it go — I would be ruminating in my head over having made a mistake,” she said, explaining it didn’t matter how tiny the blip might be. “I know that set me up to make more mistakes. (…) Not that it would have been glaringly obvious to my audience, but each mistake was in an echo chamber to me. It just kept repeating and repeating in my head. And it was just that inner critic that was nattering away in my head all the time.”
Through the book, she highlights moments illustrating her past struggles but also gives indication of where she was changing. It came from personal events but also off-camera interactions with famous names like Oprah Winfrey. Over time, Regan explains, she developed a greater ease, of presence, and from it a “sense of contribution rather than performance.”
On its release, From Showing Off to Showing Up quickly hit the Canadian non-fiction bestseller’s list. But there’s been something very interesting in the feedback since, according to the author. For one, she expected a particular demographic to respond, namely women from all walks roughly 35 to 65. Instead, she’s heard from a diverse collection of people and particularly business leaders who say they can relate to the feeling of being a step apart.
She suggests there are takeaways for everyone, with one being very straightforward.
“I think if you look at the way we humans interact, whether it’s socially or in business, you can just watch us all desperate to belong and looking for approval and wanting to be connected but going about it the wrong way because we’re wearing masks,” she said. She added striving for greater authenticity and presence rather than an idealized version of yourself or your business, can lead to closer connections and stronger relationships.
“I think if we don’t actually make a human connection and demonstrate to the other human on the other side of the business interaction that we are human, we don’t connect to their human. I think that gets in the way of professional success. And it’s the opposite of what people think. They think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to be so put together and professional and flawless.’ The thing is that humans are flawed. Humans aren’t flawless,” she said.
In the book, she talks also about the risk in defining yourself by your position. It’s something not unusual for entrepreneurs or CEOs. She suggested it might be a place to start if you’re looking to do a little self-exploration.
“I think that when you ask someone ‘who are you?,’ usually the first response is a role they play in the world. I’m a television broadcaster or I’m a mother or I’m a sister. These are all roles. And I talk about that in my book. If you make people go deeper… ‘Who are you? Who are you beneath that? Beneath that,’” she suggested, repeating the prompt, pushing. “That’s sort of what the journey of self-exploration is all about, to understand ourselves. And I think that’s an important part of finding a broader success in life and being content, finding serenity in life. Because when we define ourselves by what we do, and I think that’s very common, then when that is taken away, we go into a terrible spiral because who are we then? There goes our definition. We then have to do the work of figuring out who we are.”
While talk of self-exploration and self-help can often get a dismissive response, she suggested it can lead to being more comfortable in your own skin, worrying less, being healthier.
In trying to describe her own change over time, through personal challenges as much as professional ones and her reflective journey, she offered a simple example. She suggested there was a time when she would have anxiously turned over a long list of possible interview questions in her mind for hours or days before speaking to a reporter and ruminated on the details of the interview endlessly after the fact. And now? “I just set an intention before the phone rings and say I just want to offer something that may be helpful to somebody else and just speak from my heart and that’s all it is. And that is the most liberating thing.”
Apart from her book release, Regan has been offering in-person workshops aimed at prompting self-exploration. One is titled “Showing Up: The Transformative Power of Authenticity” and another is “Playing with Presence,” with more information available through her website.
About our Book Report series
In Book Report, Atlantic Business Magazine highlights non-fiction focused on Atlantic Canada and Atlantic Canadians, and from Atlantic Canadian publishers. These pieces offer details from upcoming business biographies, Q&As on new releases and in some cases fresh commentary from non-fiction authors on the subjects of their published works.
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