Nelson Mandela wrote, “There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Let’s just sit with this for a moment.
He’s saying that to live the life we’ve dreamed of, a life of passion and joy, that we must live life to our fullest potential. That means we must face our fears and step into the zone of, “Holy crap, I’m supposed to do what?” “Little ol’ me?” “What if I fail?” “What if no one likes it?” “What if it doesn’t resonate?” “I’m not like those other people who do big stuff like this.”
Yes, yes, and yes. These are exactly the kinds of thoughts that come with really considering stepping into the life we were meant to live. If it were easy and safe then everyone would do it. Instead it’s scary and sometimes hard, but just like our elders once told us that we have to work for those things worth having, it requires risk and sacrifice.
But when has the prize truly worth having ever been as easy as just reaching out and grabbing it? I don’t mean the carnival stuffed animal for the baseball pitcher, or the boisterous one with not too much to say, or the academic to write complex prose.
I mean the introvert with some big messages to share with the world, or the artist with a totally new way of expressing herself, or the person with a passion for building things who risks it all to start a new business, or a financial professional with two degrees and a stable career who would rather start a seed exchange, or the well paid overworked event producer who feels constricted by the culture of a large corporation and wants to venture out on her own without a net.
I’m also referring to people who are doing the work they truly feel passionate about, but are stuck doing it the way other people do it because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do. Like the environmental scientist who feels he has to prove his intelligence to those in academia rather than coming from the heart, or the woman executive who feels she needs to be like the men in her company so they will take her seriously, or the consultant who feels he needs to go along with strategies his clients feel strongly about even though he knows they won’t work.
Mandela was beckoning us forward with his profound statement. He’s saying simply, don’t play it small. Move into the light of owning who you are and what you are capable of doing, and then do it.
Tip of the Week
This week’s tip is simple. Consider what you were meant to do and just sit with all that that brings up for you: fear, doubt, ego. If you haven’t yet figured out what you were meant to do then ask the question, “Am I denying my truth because it’s scary, or because I haven’t yet figured it out?” Here’s a hint. If you haven’t yet figured out what you were meant to do, look to your childhood and those things that you did as a child with passion. Then consider how those things would translate to a career. Then take the first step.