Stop Playing Small

I read a great post the other day by the talented singing teacher, Meredith Colby. She uncovered and expressed very well what I think is the number one reason we hold ourselves back – whether it is holding ourselves back in singing, in how we show up at our job, or even in how we interact with those around us. The reason is – we think someone is better than us.

Meredith shared how one of her students didn’t perform as well as they both knew she could, because the student believed there were better singers than her in the showcase. For her it was a self-fulfilling prophesy. She believed they were better so she didn’t perform as she had practiced which made her performance less than the others. She believed that she was less than, then acted it a way to prove herself right.

no performance anxietyWhat we believe about ourselves and our ability is powerful. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.”  Meredith’s student could. She had a beautiful voice and terrific presentation. She could do it. She had done it. But the night of the performance, she thought she could not. And so she did not.

I have a litany of times in my life where I thought I couldn’t. I had the right answer in my Organizational Development course, but went with the group’s answer because they must be right. I did not speak up as an assistant director, because the director was a professional and I was not. I bit my tongue in meetings because no one else mentioned the problem I saw, so it must not be there. Although I do not dwell on it, I wonder sometimes how things would be different if I had spoken up throughout my life. What opportunities did I stifle because I kept small?

The problem starts out with comparison. Instead of owning, embracing, and sharing our unique talents and gifts, we minimize ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. But we are each unique. If we were meant to perform or act like another, we would be that other person. Instead we need to uncover, acknowledge, accept, and share the amazing things about us. What we can do. How we think. What we have to offer. Take the other out of the picture and just truly love and share what makes you you.

Comparison is complicated by an inability to speak our truth. We are afraid of sharing what we know or can do because it may be wrong, bad, or laughed at. Instead of owning what we know, feel, and can do, we hide. It takes courage and strength to stand in our truth and to share our talents. We are each gifted with something special. If we do not share it, the world will have missed out.

What beliefs do you have that keep you small? Where in your life are you afraid of showing up 100%? What do you want to do? How can embracing a belief that you can, help you get there?

If you want to learn more about how to show up big in your singing, check out Meredith’s book and attend her launch party if you are in the Chicagoland area.

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