One of my all time favorite statements, sometimes called “Our Deepest Fear,” comes from Marianne Williamson. Her words hit squarely on that voice of doubt that can rear its ugly head inside our heads, especially when it comes to letting our light shine or when we are poised to step out of our comfort zones into uncharted territory.
“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, and 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 will not 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 is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
My favorite part is the end: “…As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” The subtle truth here is absolutely beautiful and truly powerful.
Every day we encounter people who are captive. Captive as a result of their own self doubt - family members, friends, co-workers, strangers. They may not even be conscious of it, but over the years, the voices of doubters began echoing too loudly in their hearts and minds and they just stopped believing that they were destined to greatness. As children, they may have believed they were unstoppable, that their existence on earth was truly singular and that they had unique value to create in the world. Since then, this belief has been displaced and now they feel bound by a hundred different false ideas about themselves. They have been convinced that they are average, or worse, worthless - and they feel that blending in with the status quo is the safest and best approach. They have likely become complacent about trying to stand out, and now the inertia of being “common” or “ordinary” may even feel comfortable.
Perhaps, a long the way, you also have been convinced that you are average or even inadequate. You may have even grown comfortable with that idea.
This is a lie! We weren’t made for that kind of mediocrity - we were made for far greater things. The uniqueness of our creation gives each of us a singular power to be something special - something great. What is more, there are people all around us, in our homes, in our workplaces and in the world that are just waiting for us to come and ignite their light - hoping to be liberated.
In the Home - There is no greater place to do the work of liberating others than the intimate space of our own home, with family. If you are married, your spouse is there - maybe weighed down with the mundaneness of the “daily grind” or beat down from the struggles at a "job" that feels like a road to nowhere. If you have children, you have fledgling souls with bright eyes fixed on changing the world, but that may already have planted seeds of doubt because of a bully, or a inadequate teacher, or maybe a lack of meaningful interaction at home. Maybe you have siblings or parents who have lost the fire of excellence for a any number of different reasons. Finding and stoking the fire of your unique passions and sharing them with your family will illicit introspection in them. When they see you confidently sharing your passion with the world, it will ignite a feeling of self-belief in them. Then, with your additional encouragement, they too may find the courage to follow their own passions, share them with their personal unique touch and begin changing the world - even if only in small ways at first.
In the Workplace - With the average individual spending between 35% to 40% of a 24 hour day working, there is likely nothing in our life that gets more of our bandwidth than our work. At work, we encounter all kinds of people with all kinds of personalities. We spend more time with these people than we do with anyone else. We coordinate with them on projects, we pass them in the hall, we eat lunch and dinner together, we manage them, we report to them, we collaborate with them and occasionally with disagree or argue with them. Unfortunately, a large percentage of our coworkers feel unsatisfied with their work, inadequate in their position, or afraid to take risks. There is a high likelihood that many of them are achieving far less than their potential, because they doubt themselves, they are afraid they will fail and feel incapable of getting results.
Regardless of your position at work, you can be a catalyst for courage. Your genuine belief that you were hired to make an impact and your confidence that your efforts will generate the results you envision will stimulate confidence in your peers, and in your organization. This will occur especially when you convey your belief in your peers and encourage their success. This is what your company expected when it hired YOU - that you would make a difference within the company, so that it would be better capable of creating value in the industry and better able to generate a profit from its products and services. The company won't be nearly as successful if you act or think small. The organization will not be better off if you try not to make waves and just fit in. Position yourself where your passions and unique skills will be best utilized and shine bright - your team, your peers and your company will thank you for it.
If you happen to be in a work environment that does not empower you to use your unique skills and does not encourage you to make an impact on the organization, its customers and the industry as a whole, then find a way out and move on. Life is too short and the time you spend at work occupies too much of your life to play small. The world needs you and your unique light to be creating value - every day.
In the World - In a day and age where technology has the power to connect us in so many ways, we are just as likely to interact with our neighbor as with some total stranger on the other side of the globe. The reality however is that trouble abounds both near and far, and a huge percentage of the people in the world feel stuck, alone and discouraged. For many, life is all about survival - just one day at a time.
There is real work to be done that will have a real meaningful impact on how others experience and overcome pain, loss, defeat, poverty and despair. You and I have distinct experiences and unique perspectives on life that impact how we approach it. If, despite our own challenges, doubts and discouragements, we are able use those experiences to fuel our passions and make our light shine bright for others, we can stimulate optimism, happiness and courage in others. By shining brightly in the world, unafraid of ourselves, we might just unknowingly strike a chord in some total stranger, resonate a vision of clarity within them and light a path that leads them to liberation.
Before finishing up, I want to invite you to take a second to do an activity.
1. Grab a piece of paper
2. Write your name at the top
3. Think about what makes you unique and write it down
4. In the middle in big letters write these words. “I am me and that makes me powerful”
5. Read it out loud
6. Internalize it and say it again nodding
7. Believe it
If you skipped the activity [because you are too cool ;)] - reconsider.
As kids we believed we were unstoppable - we would tell ourselves this out loud. When someone told us "you can't do that", we would say, "just watch me". If someone said, that is too hard for you, we said, "get out of my way". We are that same being - endowed with the will to achieve.
The doubters will continue to exist and may even get louder as your light shines brighter. There is a chance that some of those that are eventually liberated by your courage, initially tell you to "get back in line." Use those voices as motivation to stand apart with even greater courage.
You are powerful - an unmoved mover. Create your happyspace_, shine bright and liberate the world!