Messy Brilliance – A Journey Into Knowing Yourself

intuition change your career

So, you’ve spent the last five or ten or twenty years on a quest.  That quest may have been for

  • Success
  • Wealth
  • Educational Achievement.

Has your quest brought you to your desired destination?  How much happiness have you gained – or sacrificed – along the way? Is that destination even what you, the real you, truly want?  As Kelly McNelis says in her new book “Your Messy Brilliance,”

“All too often, many of us end up settling for a life that we aren’t in love with, or even worse, shrinking into joyless roles that don’t fulfill us at all”

Even if you’ve tried coaches or mentors, counselors or yoga, part of the challenge to knowing yourself is that there’s so much noise out there.  Distractions of life in the day, and a million self-proclaimed gurus touting miracle cures at night.  What if you already have all the answers, right there within yourself, to bring yourself to a level of joy  and self-acceptance that you’ve never known but always pursued?

Inspired by Kelly’s book, here are three ways to start  on a journey towards knowing yourself in ways you probably never have.


Of all of the unique attributes of humanity, the ability to question is perhaps the most empowering.  Interestingly, we almost always limit our questioning to what’s going on “out there.”  But here’s a clue:  you don’t live “out there.”  All of the essence of who you are resides inside the shell of your body.  In some magical combination of your mind, your heart, and what we try to conceptualize as your soul, there is you.

When did you last get curious about yourself?  When did you last ask yourself questions that matter, really matter, to you?  You can start on that journey of knowing yourself by asking some of the questions posed by Ms. McNelis:

  • Who am I?
  • What are the many identities I’ve accumulated?
  • What are the qualities that make me who I am?
  • And what would it look like for me to embrace all of me?

via Self Magazine


We each own a huge library.  Mine is called “Linda Allen.”  It contains all the versions of me that ever were and ever could be.  It contains all my stories.  Once I am aware of all those stories and versions that are on the shelf, I can begin to examine which ones serve me, and which ones either hold me captive or lead me away from the “me” I truly want to be, deserve to be.   Kelly frames it this way:  “What kinds of stories about me would allow me to be the fullest version of myself, if I choose to dive into them?”

You might liken it to choosing the role you’re about to play in magnificent production.  Of all volumes in your library, you get to choose.


Close your eyes and take another look at the library of you.  Are all the books orderly, maybe a bit dusty and never off the shelf?  Or are some well-worn while others seem to be beckoning you to open the cover and engage them?

Chances are, your library is a bit of a mess.  Some volumes might be stuck in the shelf with bookmarks to remind you that you haven’t finished that story.  Others might be out of order because they’re favorites, your go-to sources.  All of that messiness is perfectly okay.  And that’s the core message of Kelly McNelis’s book.

You’ve also got volumes on the shelf that perhaps aren’t ones you’re proud to share.  But they represent a part of your collection, your history, and they are what makes you, you.   The library of you is just fine.  It’s up to you which stories you want to embrace.

Your Messy Brilliance

messy brilliance knowing yourself

As the editor of Ms Career Girl, I receive many requests to review new books.  I try to choose those that sound interesting and of value to the Ms Career Girl readers.  But truth is a few of them are disappointing, and I wonder how they even got published.  You’ll never hear about those.

The majority turn out to be respectable volumes that provide quality advice and useful guidance.  Then there are a few that are simply standouts.  Kelly’s “Your Messy Brilliance” is one of the latter.

Tip:  Take one of those gift cards you got for Christmas and get the book.  I’m pretty sure it’ll be one of the ones you keep on your shelf for a long time and return to often.

I also had the chance to bounce some questions off Kelly last year, and you’ll find them in a post here.

Linda Allen

I'm a serial entrepreneur, with a resume that makes me look like a Jane of all trades. Pretty sure we are all reluctant Messiahs, travelling through life planting seeds where ever we can. Hopefully, most of mine have been good ones! MA from Miami University (Ohio, not Florida), BA from Cal State.

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