Do you remember the messages you received as a child about your potential in the world? Were you raised believing that you could shine as brightly as the stars? Or were you taught not to outshine your peers, and to keep your flame turned to a low simmer? Whether these were direct messages received from family, or indirect messaging from popular culture and community, we ALL have beliefs about our greatness.
These beliefs are important because they dictate how we behave as health and wellness professionals, what kind of aspirations we allow ourselves to have, and ultimately, the depth and breadth of our professional contribution to the world.
From the “Impostor Phenomenon” that was first written about in 1978, to Gay Hendricks discussion of our self-imposed “upper limits” in The Big Leap, much has been written about our threshold for greatness: how much of it we allow ourselves to receive and express, and internal feelings about our greatness. Even those amongst us who would be regarded as amazingly competent by our peers are subject to feelings of doubt and unworthiness. (If you’re a Modern Family fan, and saw the episode where Haley’s astrophysicist boyfriend completely lost it when he forgot how many moons Jupiter had, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)
In my work as both a yoga therapist and a business coach for health and wellness professionals, I’ve experienced and witnessed so many permutations of “not good enough-ness” that I thought it merited further exploration.
So here we go, friends . . . and I hope you’ll chime in with a comment at the end.
First, my disclaimer, which may sound kind of weird – but I am “officially” an extremely confident person. What I mean is that I took a Strengths Finder test, which ranks your most dominant traits on a scale of 1-100, and my #1 dominant trait, for which I scored 100, was confidence. If you know me, this won’t come as a total shock, but what does surprise me is how someone who is theoretically super confident is still subject to huge lapses in self-belief. And that’s because we ALL are.
Which brings us to…
Greatness Truth #1: everyone experiences confidence issues.
It doesn’t matter if you are a brand new yoga teacher, or have been a health coach for 10 years. You will, from time to time, lose confidence. Whether it’s a new client who pushes you way out of your comfort zone; a colleague who questions your skills; an unexpected “no;” or your doubts that you are on the right path – remember that we ALL go through these phases.
The important thing to remember when this happens is…
Greatness Truth #2: a circumstantial lapse in confidence doesn’t mean that you aren’t great, it just says that you are human.
When you find yourself in a situation where your confidence is taking a plunge, see if you can practice this resolution: remind yourself that you are worthy, awesome, and competent, even though you don’t feel super great in that moment. Avoid letting your self-talk assume a bigger scope than is appropriate.
Now it’s worth noting that sometimes we AREN’T competent. Sometimes we need more training or skills to do no harm, and that’s fine. Go get more skills! But more often than not we let a tiny blip of imperfection derail a lifetime full of greatness that is already built up inside of us.
Hold onto your great!
You might be wondering how doubting your greatness manifests in your business life; what exactly does that look like? Let me give you a few examples:
- You are a rock solid Pilates teacher who feels confident in her ability to help clients get stronger. Yet that greatness is nowhere to be found on your website. You tell yourself that you don’t want to “brag” or overpromise. So the result is that you give off an impression of complete mediocrity.
- You know you are a stellar yoga therapist who helps clients significantly reduce their back pain. Yet you haven’t raised your rates in five years. Whatever your story is for not raising your rates, your rates don’t match your actual greatness. Period. You are essentially telling yourself and the entire universe that what you have to offer isn’t valuable.
- You think you have confidence in your greatness and don’t feel like you’re playing small. But you seem to have hit a threshold. New, higher level opportunities don’t come your way, and you don’t understand why. Other people – including those who are less skilled than you – seem to be getting more visibility than you do.
The list could go on and on:
- risks we don’t take
- situations we’d enjoy tremendously but feel too small to show up for
- income plateaus that last for years
- a general restlessness, knowing that we’re capable of more
. . . it’s all the money we’ve ever left on the table (literally and metaphorically) because we mistakenly believe that we don’t know enough or aren’t somehow, enough.
Are you feeling me, friends?!
This brings us to our final Greatness Truth, and please know that I’m talking to myself just as loudly as I’m speaking to you:
Greatness Truth #3: The world suffers when we play small. When we are too wimpy to own our greatness, we deny someone who needs us (our services, our products, our compassionate presence) the opportunity to improve their life.
Now trust me, I’ve got a highly refined platitude-meter, and phrases like “stop playing small” and “own your greatness” are definitely overused clichés. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t true!
When I pause to let myself witness the positive effect my yoga and coaching have on the lives of others, and really let that sink in, I understand that I have a role to play in the larger flow of communal interaction. I have an obligation to fulfill my dharma. Just as my life is enriched by those around me who are fulfilling theirs.
So please go out on a limb here and remember this resolution: your greatness is meant to be shared, just as you partake in the greatness of others. By acknowledging your gifts as sparkling jewels in our gorgeous universe, you are participating in the larger web of radiance that is our birthright.
Besides, playing small just makes us feel small . . . which is totally out of integrity with who we actually are.
So my invitation to you is to start exactly where you are – one of our tried and true yoga-isms. Take 30 seconds to ponder if you are fully allowing yourself to shine as brightly as you’re meant to, and where you might be able to increase the wattage a bit.
Better yet, let’s do this together . . .
Leave a comment:
Please comment below and really shout out your greatness. Tell us about the contribution you are already making! As well as how and where you’d like to shine even brighter. Like a huddled mass around a campfire . . . we need each other’s flames.