You know how sometimes a word keeps popping up over and over, so much so that you have to stop a moment and wonder why? Over the past few weeks, my word-pop has been “fierce.” It’s not a word I’ve used very much, and I’ve certainly never used to describe myself or anyone I knew.
I mean, really, come on… I’m an introvert!!
One of my clients, though, is immersing himself in claiming his fierceness. And I can understand why I’ve never claimed it for myself. When I right-click on the word, synonyms that I’m offered include “violence,” “anger” and “sternness.”
But that’s not what my client is working on. He’s exploring what it means to be fiercely authentic, honest and present. For him, it’s about trusting and living according to his highest truth, while being compassionate and open with others. Rather than roll over when others push, or act indifferent just to be the peacemaker, he wants to be fiercely HIMSELF and his truth.
This has not been without its risks. Because people were used to him being a certain way, his newly-owned fierceness took some by surprise. He may have swung the pendulum too far to the other side; some mistook fierce for harsh. It’s natural; when we’re trying to adopt a new behavior or belief, we often go to the opposite extreme, so we can eventually land in the middle sweet spot.
At this point, it’s interesting to note that he’s an extrovert, and he chose the word “fierce” to describe how he wanted to show up. That got me thinking: I never would have voluntarily chosen the word “fierce” for myself… can a “good girl” who’s also an introvert be fierce??
So I did what we do these days: I took the question to my Facebook community.
iCathy replied: “Can you be a gentle personality and be ‘fierce’? There have been times in my life when my strength of convictions made it easy for me to say ‘No’ (for example). But, there have been times when a ‘stronger’ personality or subtle pressure influenced me to make a decision I later regretted. Like your client, I want to own fierceness within myself.”
Right on! As I reflected on the question and read the Facebook comments, I started to feel a kinship with the word “fierce.” I began to see it as another way to describe my passion and conviction, but with an extra edge that made me unstoppable.
Here are more insights my fellow introverts (i) and extroverts (e) shared about the word “fierce”:
iJudy: Beth, I see “fierce” as entirely different from “harsh.” It’s a combination of powerful and passionate. It’s ideas you won’t let go of because you believe in them so much. And people can have a quiet fierceness and I think that still comes through.
iLori: Fierce doesn’t mean cruel or harsh! It means persistent, knowledgeable, valuing customers, doing what it takes to fulfill your customer’s needs. You are a force to be reckoned with, but only by your competitors!
iArden: Hmmm, I might use the word conviction. When we have conviction we speak passionately and confidently. We don’t have to force it.
eMaria: I love that word….reminds me of Christian from that past Season of Project Runway! MEE—OW!
iVal: Fierce honesty and fierce authenticity are lovely goals, unlike harshness. But of course we tend to go through a pendulum swing before finding the middle. It’s so worth working on.
A good way to learn that balance is through Non-Violent Communication classes, which helped me a lot. It teaches you assertiveness while staying loving. It helps you understand the connection and practice it in words.
eRachel: In therapy-land, we call that a “change back” reaction. 🙂 Has your client read “The Dance of Anger”? Cause to me, “fierce” has some of the fire of anger in it, but channeled well and to a purpose.
iKris: Fierce is commitment. Harsh is selfish.
iJames: If your actions are backed by PASSION and positive intentions, then you can be as fierce as you want!
And iBarry brought up a famous introvert who’s been in the spot light lately. He wrote, “I thought I knew until I saw Zuckerberg in the Social Network…I got a long way to go. LOL” (Ha! Still need to see that movie…)
My bottom line: the more I think about it, the more I’m attracted to the word and want to claim a piece of its power for myself.
Being fierce is about being confident. Passionate. Invested. Intentional. Energetic. As Judy said, there’s a way to have a quiet fierceness that is in harmony with your introvert nature. It’s a state of mind, a way of carrying yourself. It’s about owning your choices, because they’re based in your truth.
And in my personal fierceness, there’s abundance. There’s no room for scarcity. I want to be so solid in my truth that I can share myself – or people can even take a piece of me – and I won’t fear the loss. I know that I have, and I am, more than enough.
I want to hear from you, fierce introverts! What does “fierce” mean to you?
How does your fierceness show up? Does that word even resonate with you,
or is there another one that fits better?