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“I don’t want to disrupt the peace.”

“I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.”

“I’m going to stay in the middle and play it safe.”

These are all ways of saying: “I’m going to play small and give my power to someone else and hope that it turns out ok.”

Notice I said “ok” and not great. Because that’s really the hope here – that it turns out ok. Something you can live with. Not something that allows you to thrive.

I had a conversation with an amazing businessman last night. A man whose passion and intelligence far surpasses the norm.

A leader.

A man who is going to change the world for the better.

You know the kind of person I’m speaking about – the kind of person whose energy lights up a room and whose conversation leaves you feeling heard, yet thinking in new ways. That’s rare in my experience.

Except he’s not being that person. Nope, he’s settling because he’s scared of what might happen if he disturbs the peace or causes conflict by going after his dreams and goals. He’s choosing to play small so that those around him feel good about themselves.

I get it. I used to do the same thing. I would make fun of myself when I was around someone that I could tell was lacking in self-esteem so that others would feel better. I would act dumber than I really was to make someone else feel good about themselves. I would deliberately mess up in sports, in games, or activities if I thought someone else there needed a pick-me-up. I’d play small and dim my light to make them shine brighter.

This way of being cost me a lot in my personal and business life. It cost me countless clients as I didn’t want to showcase how our company was better. It cost me in my personal life – missed out opportunities for fun, for relationships, and to express myself.

More importantly, dimming my light, so I didn’t rock my boat cost me my life.

Bold statement, I know, so let me explain.

When you dim your light for others or settle for “ok,” you rob yourself and the world of You. You are forced to put a mask on and pretend to be someone you’re not. A lesser version of yourself. And we do this in the hope that in the future we might be able to be more Us.

The truth is that when we do this, we step off the field that is our life, and go sit in the stands – watching and hoping that someone will save us. We become victims in our own story.

My wife taught me this lesson, and I’m lucky. She would catch me, more often than I care to admit, dimming my light to make other shine. She explained to me that I was robbing those people the opportunity to up their game and in effect, I was allowing them to play small. I wasn’t making them safe as I had hoped, I wasn’t protecting them, no, I was enabling them to hide.

The world needs more great people. The world needs YOU.

Let your light shine so brightly that you light up the people around you. Let your presence and way of being shine so that others will inspire to shine themselves.

Here are three things you can do today:

  1. Recognize any time that you hold back or resist the urge to be fully you. Why are you holding back? What are you waiting for?
  2. At that moment, push forward and show all your colors. In business, this might mean going after that larger client or showcasing your knowledge in a particular area. In your personal relationships, this might mean dressing a certain way or speaking up about your opinion. This isn’t a license to be a jerk. It’s a license to be you.
  3. Reclaim Your Power. Have that conversation you’ve been putting off. You know the one I’m talking about. This is your life, not a warm-up for your life, but the real deal. Decide what it is you want and go after it with passion and love. If you feel that you’ve been holding back so you won’t hurt the people you love, then you’re wrong. Give the people you love a real gift – a relationship with the real you, not your fake representative.

When should you start?…

… How does now sound?

What is one thing that you’re committed to doing today to allow yourself to play big? I’d love to know.

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