There is this wonderful quote by Marianne Williamson with its line: “Your playing small does not serve the world.” Today, I took a minute to really think about this line and how I behave on a daily basis.
I want to start with sharing the full quote. I also want to say that I am not a religious person and it is not meant to promote any religion. If I had to choose, I’d say I lean towards Buddhism, but only because I don’t see it as a religion, but rather as a mindful and curios approach to life.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”― Marianne Williamson
I work in a consulting company. It is a competitive environment and there is one word that plays a big factor when it comes to making a career in consulting: visibility. It is what you do not only on the project, but also off the project. How fast you reply to questions from your superiors, how engaged you are in the community, or anything else that shows you in a good light.
Sometimes it really feels like bragging. People answer to everyone in a mail, to make sure they are visible enough. I cannot really blame them. The system is designed in that way and it is not wrong to try to make the best out of the situation and to be successful. I just don’t have a very good feeling about it.
However, today I reflected why I have this feeling and the quote came to my mind. And I realized that I definitely play it small most of the time. I give mindfulness trainings to colleagues and beside those involved, few to none know about it. I gave a vision workshop and a visualization for a client and didn’t really tell others. Why not? One part is that I want to be humble and I don’t want to be the center of attention. I don’t mind it, but I want to focus more on letting other people shine.
Another reason, a more unconscious one, is that I secretly hope that someone sees it and will stand up for me or hail my effort and give me praise. That is a dangerous path. If I have those secretes wishes and it doesn’t come to that, I am in danger of growing resentful. And it is also unfair towards others. They have their own lives and are not obligated to help me and my career. If I don’t stand up for myself, why should others? It is a victim mentality. I know that sometimes, I am in danger of getting into this mentality, but I am also good at telling myself that I am the only one who is responsible for my life.
It has also something to do with self-confidence. Someone else should tell me that I did a good thing. The thing is that I am self-confident. It is just a story I tell myself. Maybe I am afraid of what I could do.
As I have some ideas in mind, you might hear more about them. Please tell me when I am getting out of line though =).
So, does this mean I will also be more “visible”, answering everyone when I can help, or engage in many different activities? No, I don’t like the system and I don’t want to play this game. If I can help someone, I will help, but I don’t need everyone to inform about how good a guy I am. Maybe that is a flawed reasoning. I don’t know. However, I will not play it small anymore. If I know I did something good, I will tell other people. I hope I can find the right line between bragging and being too humble.
Are you playing small? In what way? And do you think a change can benefit you and others?
Love and hugs, Stephan