I see this all the time. I recognise it because I know the signs well. I have been there and done that. For about a decade.
I played small. I didn't even know it until someone pointed it out to me.
I denied it.
I didn't want to accept the statement because I always prided myself in speaking my mind and standing up for issues I felt passionate about.
Except, when I did stand up, I still played small. I kept my arena small and I kept my voice small. Like so many women do. And sadly, so many will continue to do.
I played small for several reasons. I didn't want to be the tall poppy.
I knew what society is capable of inflicting on people who endeavour to stand out, especially if they are female. I learnt that over the two decades in corporate but I also learnt in my chosen field of passion pursuit.
One of the main elements of what I do is discovering where and why the women I work with play small. It's a confronting part of my work but the most rewarding.
It's one thing to work with someone to produce some content. It's another to see them open and unravel their amazing wisdom with courage. And with the complete conviction that their voice is worthy of being heard.
This is how we, women, play small with out content.
We hang around in online communities but never share our knowledge. We lurk around for weeks after joining a group on Facebook. We share cute memes and add love hearts and thumbs up as reaction to posts. We might attempt to make some small talk by noting how amazing someone's whatever they posted about is.
We have our field of expertise. The stuff we know a lot about. Our ZOG – Zone Of Genius.
When members of the group ask for advice or input in that are, we hide. We know we could help. We could give helpful advice. Instead we keep scrolling to the next post. We add almost meaningless comments of how cute someone's cat is in the photo.
We don't post on the days where the sharing of wisdom is encouraged with hashtags like #toptip or #geniustip or #shareyourwisdom.
Or what's worse, in my view, is when we post quotes from someone famous. Or dish out completely banal advice such as "love yourself". **Gag!**
What about days when you are encouraged to talk about what you do and what type of clients you are looking for, such as #followme or #letsconnect?
Do you hide on those days and hang out in a cat appreciation group on Facebook instead?
When you are not contributing to the conversation in your communities, you are playing small.
We speak weak.
Language has a lot power. The ability of speaking a language fluently will not mean that you are able to wield that language competently.
Here's me talking about this. English is my second language so that was an added challenge for me. Learn to communicate assertively, concisely and with power.
We use our everyday language we were taught from infancy and we use phrases without thinking where they came from.
Are they strong or weak?
Not a question we consider when choosing our language to communicate.
Weak language weakens our message. Every time you use expressions like "kind of" or "sort of" or even phrases like "in my opinion", you water down your message.
I have stopped using the words "just" and "only" in my communications, spoken and written. I realised that they have a minimising affect on what I wanted to say.
Try this. Read these two sentences out loud.
"I just want to share my thoughts."
"I want to share my thoughts."
Do you get the feeling that in the first instance you are asking for permission?
Do you feel how the second sentence is strong and is not asking for validation?
Want to use language to stop playing small? Learn about using strong language for a strong message.
This is a very typical female issue. We are conditioned from a very young age that we need to pander to others. That we need to do whatever we can do avoid causing others discomfort.
When someone criticises us because our content compelled them to reflect on something uncomfortable, we shirk.
We second guess ourselves about our own wisdom.
We question whether we are worthy of sharing our knowledge if it causes discomfort to others.
We then agonise over our words, our content, our service, our product, our message, our everything. We want to please everyone so much that we end up watering down our wisdom.
We share something generic not to upset the masses.
We want to please everyone. We want to talk to everyone.
Here's the thing. When you're in business, if your message is not super specific and targeted, your voice will be as effective as a fart in a windstorm. It will be white noise.
When you're talking to everyone, you're talking to no one.
It's 2018, the age of being offended by everything. It will not be surprising that you will come across people in your travel who, no matter what you do, will just not be pleased.
No matter what you do.
And they will tell you.
I'm telling you now. Those people are not your peeps. Not your tribe. Not your audience. Not your followers. Not your ideal customers. Not your Zone of Joy.
There is only one thing to say to them. And that is, Goodbye, Felicia!
You play small when you want to please everyone. Stick to your message and those who resonate with it will be drawn to it and will stick around.
I have come across this example very clearly one day when I was watching someone's video on a spiritual topic they have just picked up from out of the blue.
They have not shared that idea with their audience before on that media but I have recognised the content. Almost word for word.
This person was explaining a complex metaphysical process almost word for word from someone else.
When I dug a little, I realised that this woman was a disciple of someone pretty high profile in the field.
I don't have a problem with spreading a message. In fact if it's a wisdom that needs to be shared far and wide, so be it.
What I noticed was though the cult-like quality that was now surrounding that message.
When we defer to someone else's message and use it validate our own, we are playing small.
We don't believe that our own wisdom is enough. We don't believe that we deserve to be heard for the uniqueness of our own message.
We believe that we need to scaffold our own message and communication with someone else's idea.
With someone else's message to validate ourselves.
You are enough. You are worthy. You are unique.
When I follow someone, I do that for their own message.
I don't want to hinge my development to someone else, who doesn't have the guts to back themselves and stand by their own unique wisdom.
When you no longer put others on a pedestal and start believing that your own unique wisdom is worth, then you will stop playing small.
We martyr ourselves.
This is rife for women in business but even more so in the spiritual space. There are movements within the industry that want to assert that charging for spiritual services is dirty.
When we first start out with our spiritual businesses, we are often vulnerable to influences in the industry.
That includes those who will tell you to give your "godgiven gifts" away for free because the universe will provide.
Pahlease! What nonsense!
We already undervalue ourselves and charge far less than what we should. It's even worse when we are pressured into giving our precious time and energy away for free.
Have you ever tried to pay your mortgage or electricity bill with your "godgiven gifts"? How about your for your groceries at the check out?
Didn't think so!
Charging for your services as a spiritual or holistic practitioner is not dirty. You are not a fraud for wanting to get paid!
Making an income from providing people with your time and energy is no different from any other profession that does that.
So what if you get a message from someone asking "just one quick question"? You are not obligated to give them your time.
I'm all for providing people with free resources to help themselves. In fact, I tell all my clients to create plenty of content and make it accessible to people for free.
Free content is there to empower people to empower themselves. Some will pay for your services after getting your freebies and some won't.
Some never will. That's part and parcel of business.
Same applies to giving mates rates. If you're finding yourself discounting your services to every tom dick and harry, stop now.
You are playing small when you feel bad for charging money for what you provide or when you feel like you need to justify your prices.
I know that some of what you just read will be confronting. I get it. There isn't a single thing on this list that I haven't caught myself doing.
I still catch myself doing some of the things on this list. I'm not talking to you about these things from that high and mighty ivory tower that I see some coaches communicating from.
I'm right there with you. In the trenches. Right next to you, having battled with the same things you are battling with right now.
I have a little more experience and I have seen what happens when women keep playing small.
If you want to work shoulder to shoulder with someone who knows what it's like to have those fears and doubts first hand, hitch your stop-playing-small wagon to mine.
Let's chat about working through this together and create content that will have you play not only authentic and joyful but also BIG!
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