I received this smart, beautifully vulnerable question the other day, and it struck a chord in my heart.
It doesn’t matter how many trappings of “success” (whatever that means) we’ve accumulated: everyone feels small sometimes.
When I thought about my response, I recalled a moment a while back when I had spiraled deep into comparison. I was looking at everyone else, seeing how amazing they were, and feeling like I was a mere turd in comparison.
I know you’ve been there. It feels absolutely toxic.
I felt really small. Yet my desire to hit a specific goal was calling me to play big.
I knew I needed to do something to stop the runaway train of feeling less than, and fast.
Within 24 hours I had gotten myself back on the highway of self-love and compassion. I was able to get the work done that I needed to do from a powerful place of “enoughness.” Plus I was flooded with new ideas to take our business to the next level. (When we’re playing big we become more receptive to new ideas to continue to play big.)
These are my four go-to touchstones for getting back on track to play big when I find that I’m feeling small. May they steer you back on track like they do me.
- Spend time with people who are playing a “big” game. Big is relative, of course, but it just needs to feel expansive to you. And by osmosis it rubs off on you. If you don’t have anyone in your immediate circle who you feel is playing big, read biographies about them, listen to their podcasts, and read their blogs.
- Disconnect. This may feel contradictory to the last tip, but stick with me. There will be people in your world who, when you’re in their field, make you feel small. It’s not their fault. It’s simply something about them that triggers you. (Likely it’s that they have something you want and instead of feeling inspired, you feel the dissonance of your wanting and not having.) Stop spending time with these people for a bit. Stop reading their email newsletters and looking at their social media. Unsubscribe and unfollow. You’ll feel way more valuable when you keep your eyes on your own paper. (Over time you’ll learn to turn comparison into inspiration instead of fodder for your “I’m small” party. But that’s for another day and another post.)
- Why are you amazing? Write a specific list of all of your accomplishments, things you’re proud of, and ways that you’re amazing. Refer to the list whenever you feel small. I’m serious. Keep this list in a note on your phone and add to it regularly.
- Take action anyway. When I feel small I remind myself that my playing small doesn’t help anyone. When I focus on my mission and how I can be of value to other people, I simply get moving and do my work. And when I follow through and do the things I say I’m going to do and get out there and am of service, I don’t feel so small anymore.
I also found Tara Mohr’s book Playing Big: Practical Wisdom For Women Who Want To Speak Up, Create, And Lead tremendously smart and helpful for upping my game. I was shocked by the insidious ways we as women specifically play small that we don’t even know we’re doing. The book is eye-opening. (I interviewed Tara about the book for Glimpse TV. Check out the interview here.)
OVER TO YOU:
Which one of these four touchstones most resonates with you? What are your strategies for playing big even when you feel small? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please leave a comment below!