I recently started reading Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create and Lead by Tara Mohr. Holy crap. I wish I had had this book about 20 years ago.
In some ways, I feel like I could have written this book. If you read it, you’ll probably feel the same way. Because it speaks to how so many of us feel.
There is a complex intersection of reasons why women play small and get in their own way when it comes to stepping out and taking up space in the world. Some of those reasons are social and institutional, and some of them are personal and familial.
Now seems like a great time to reflect on how more women, including me and you, can step into our own greatness and fulfill our unique purpose in the world.
When it comes to leading, creating or taking risks, some of us can really throw some monkey wrenches into our own plans. I know I have.
For the longest time I repeated the Lost Child role that I had to use in my family growing up – fading into the background, being careful not to call too much attention to myself, flying under the radar. I excelled in school (because of course I was a perfectionist and had impossibly high standards for myself) but I couldn’t feel too satisfied about it and certainly didn’t celebrate it in any way because, in the corrupted code of my family, that would have meant I was full of myself.
When Adult Children transition from school to the working world as young adults, they can often feel lost. Many Adult Children struggle with their sense of self and don’t know what they want, so they sometimes do what they think other people want them to do and find themselves in careers that are unfulfilling. It can be difficult to know when you are succeeding – you can know how to be a good student, but not how to be a good employee. The rules are so much less clear!
Or maybe, through your incredible resilience, you did find your way into a career that you loved. But you never felt like you were really reaching your potential, and even when you did well, it was hard to take the compliments or the praise. When would you finally feel satisfied?
What I have learned over the course of decades of my own personal development – and what I have seen in my work with my amazing clients – is that Adult Children can learn how to step out from behind the scenery of their own lives and take their places in center stage. We can learn that it’s OK to be visible and stand out. We can learn it’s safe to succeed – and it’s safe to experiment and fail forward. Most importantly, we can get support – we don’t have to figure it out by ourselves.
ACOAs have often spent their early lives listening to limiting messages from broken people who were in too much pain themselves to be able to give much except:
Who do you think you are.
You’re too sensitive.
You talk too much.
You’re so bossy.
It’s all in your head.
We begin to believe we are just too much.
And yet somehow we are also not enough.
This is true for all ACOAs, but especially for women because we often expect ourselves to have things perfect before we feel “ready” to launch them, we hold ourselves to impossible standards and think we need to have more training, more experience, more evidence of our competence. More, more, more….
You are ALREADY ENOUGH.
And you’re not too much.
You already know enough. You already have enough training to help someone. You already have enough experience to offer something valuable.
And, despite what you were told back then, WE want more of you here and now. More of your sensitivity, more of who you are, more of your bossiness (aka LEADERSHIP), more of your ideas, reactions and thoughts.
It’s time to move out of the purgatory between “too much” and “not enough”.
It’s time to shift into the reality of “more of me is welcome here” and “I’m already enough.”
The world needs whatever you are, have, do, or know. Even though you had to play small as a child in order to survive, TODAY you can begin to claim your place in the world. You can start playing big.
My blessing for you – and for all women and girls – today and every day is that we would start playing big starting RIGHT NOW.