You let yourself play small because deep-down you think that’s all you deserve. So you settle for less than is actually possible.
You compare the ups and downs of your messy and chaotic life to the highlights reels of other people. You feel insignificant and incapable, so you stop seeking opportunities to grow.
You are so worried about making the right decision you end up stuck like a rabbit in the headlights, choosing nothing and watching the days tick by.
If you are tired of playing small, playing the comparison game or being stuck in the headlights of analysis paralysis, then you need to start changing the way you think about yourself.
Don’t wait for the right time. The right time never comes.
You grow most at the very edges of your comfort zone. Staying small and safe doesn’t serve anyone. Least of all you. If you want to stay safe, paralysed by the thought of what other people might say if you step out into the unknown, then go ahead. You can stay there, safe, in your low-risk, low-impact life. For ever.
And you get to choose.
I know what that feels like because it’s also been my story. I’ve played small too because underneath it all I worry whether I deserve more – am I enough? Will I have enough to offer? What will people say?
I’ve fallen headlong into the trap of comparing my journey in life to other people’s journeys. I see their highlights, not the lowlights, and fool myself into thinking I’ve so much less to offer the world than they have so I may as well not bother. At least then I won’t look like an idiot when I fail. (And yes, I often think in terms of ‘when’ for failures – and ‘if’ for success – anyone else?)
I’m also the self-professed Queen of Must Make the Right Choice. I forget there is no right or wrong choice. Only options.
But, I also know I get to choose whether I stay stuck or move forward, risking messy failures and screw ups. When the opposite is to stay small and live with the thought I would never know what would happen if I tried, if I really played big and reached for those gloriously proverbial stars, it’s a no-brainer on paper.
It’s a harder path – and the journey is a LOT more fun.
Here’s a little story to inspire you.
The historical story goes that a beautiful monastery in Thailand was at risk of attack from the Burmese army. This monastery was home to a beautiful giant golden statue of Buddha. The monks covered the giant golden Buddha with clay to protect it from plunder by the army. The army saw only a giant clay statue and left it alone. Over time the story of the covered statue had been lost until finally all the monks in the monastery believed the statue to be made of only clay.
Several hundred years later in 1957 a group of monks was in the process of relocating the monastery. One day, as they moved the giant clay Buddha, a monk noticed the clay was cracked. When he investigated more closely, he saw gold light appearing at the place the clay had broken. He chiseled away at the clay until he uncovered the truth. The statue was, and had never been, clay – it was made of solid gold.
I am like the golden Buddha statue (albeit I am much, much smaller). I am not clay. I am gold.
The biggest layer of clay covering the gold of who I really am has been all my own work. I’ve piled on layer upon layer of my own limiting and negative thinking over the years – most of it totally unconsciously. Comparing myself to others has not helped. Other layers of clay have been added by other people (teachers, family, bosses, society, the media, organisations) and too often I lose sight of the gold of who I am when I’m being myself on my very best days. That gold is me.
YOU are not clay either. You too are solid gold.
When I’m standing in the truth of who I am it makes taking leaps and risks and facing challenges easier. It creates new possibilities. I can play bigger without fearing what other people will say. This is true for you too.
It’s not easy to chip away at the clay to find your gold. Using a hammer and chisel is hard work, and careful work to avoid damaging the gold underneath. And it is simple. Start chipping away at the clay.
Here are 4 things you can do.
1. Ask. Ask other people what your gold is. Don’t literally ask them that or they’re going to look at you strangely. DO ask them what are my biggest gifts? What is it about me that lights up others? What’s unusual or unique about me?
2. Rediscover. Remember what you loved to do when you were growing up. What did you spend all your spare time doing when you were 5, 10, 13, 16, 20? Spend some time trying those things out again.
3. Get curious. Take action and notice what happens when you do. Action comes first. It was the action of chiselling the clay that revealed the gold statue. Try a new way of thinking, a new course, a new route to work, a new way of behaving, anything. Follow your curiosity.
4. Apply. To transform your life and uncover your gold, you must apply what you learn. Information alone is nice and not enough. Experiment with what you’ve learned. Ask yourself how you can use what you learn, and then use it.
Chip away at your clay. Uncover your gold.
Have fun – you only get one go at life. Make it a good one!
PS When you’re ready for transformation and change, let’s talk about the ways I can help you build your confidence, create your vision and increase your impact on the world.