Do you feel you have to apologize for just being yourself even though you are ‘nice’, kind, respectful, soft-spoken?
Do you find yourself saying, ‘I’m sorry’ for doing something good for yourself to not offend another person, maybe a colleague or a family member?
Being unapologetic is not always easy, but can be learnt. Ask Danielle Steel.
Danielle Steel, a prolific author with an estimated net worth of US$385 million, is unstoppable with over 190 books in her back list. She is unapologetically herself now but, from her past interviews you can see she was not always so.
From reading and watching several of her interviews, I gathered five qualities about her that women can learn to emulate to become less unapologetic for how they work and live their lives.
1. Own your ambition
In a Times magazine interview, Belinda Lascombe, editor-at-large asked Danielle on a reader’s behalf how many more books she would like to write. At the time of the interview, Danielle had already authored more than 100 books (113 books to be more precise). Belinda was surprised when Danielle calmly responded “another hundred books”. Belinda’s surprise is hilarious.
Danielle also admits she was married to men who did not like her working during her early career. It worked to her advantage because she could work at home when her children were in bed. But this lifestyle was not always so. During the times when she was not married, she had to work normal jobs and write on the side.
The takeaway here is to own your ambition, first to yourself and then to others. Voice it clearly and loudly. Repeat until you accept your ambition. Because, when you do so, you will find a way to make it happen.
2. Own your griefs
Danielle mentions she had writer’s block when her son died. She grieved and mourned for him over a year. She owned her grief until she was jolted from it to write again.
Life has its ups and downs. When you are down in despair, own your griefs and work through it. Take the time for yourself to tend to your broke heart. When the time is right, take steps to move out of grieving. If needed, seek out professional help to get you back on track with your life.
3. Help others but know your limits
After Danielle’s son passed, she wrote a non-fiction memoir on his life as a bipolar child. She used the book to raise awareness of this mental health disease. But at the same time, she decided not to be a spokesperson.
She had defined what her contribution would be – as a celebrity with a bipolar child. She knew people would listen to her because of her fame.
You too can define what part of your side to give to others and, like Danielle, you can define boundaries around your contribution.
4. Own your accomplishments
Danielle Steel owns her accomplishments. In one interview with Oprah magazine in 2019, the interviewer asked Danielle if she was satisfied with 179 books. Danielle gently corrected her and gave her the correct stats of 185 books. We may lose count of Danielle’s accomplishments but she does not. She knows what she has accomplished.
In an interview early in her career, the interviewer kept insisting she got a lucky break as an author because of her wealthy parents. Danielle was graceful in her response: “I worked as hard as any struggling young author when I started.” Her parents did not give her a lucky break. They did not believe in her working as a writer. When she made her break she was a working single mother.
Keep track of your accomplishments. It is your duty to yourself to do so. And take a note from Danielle Steel. Correct others when they get your accomplishments wrong.
5. Control your brand story
Danielle Steel has been branded a romance novelist and her books as a beach read. However, she has made it clear that she writes about the human condition, relationships and the struggles and success people experience in their daily life. Danielle Steel controls her brand story.
There will be times when others will define you. Be clear on who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Refine your message so that you can clearly articulate it to others.
Living your true self and being unapologetic for who you are can be difficult if you do not know how. Now you have five ways to be unapologetic like Danielle Steel.
To practice being unapologetic, make a list of the situations that you tend to apologize and note what you tend to say. Then for each situation, change your narrative.
Remember, regardless of the situation, you get to define what is said or done. Remind yourself of the situations and new narratives daily and practice the narratives whenever an opportunity presents itself.
Living unapologetically helps you to live true to yourself.