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Stop Playing Small

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

In an unusual way of starting a blog for me, I want to ask you a question… Are you really being all that you could be, or are you playing too small?


The craziest thing about this question I find, is not that its blunt or to the point; it’s the fact that literally no one but you and yourself, know this answer. You cant lie to yourself, you cant confuse yourself, you either are or are not. The grey does not exist. If one is to be everything they are truly capable of, with or without context, you will know. The voice in your head, the feeling in your gut that theres more you could be doing, that incessant urge to go harder. That to me is a sign you know you aren’t being all you could be, and that’s a good thing.


Why Knowing Is Good...

Why is it a good thing? Because it's your mind's way of telling you, you can be so much more than you are. You could be so much better, so much more disciplined, so much more focused, scheduled, organized, passionate, sure of yourself. Theres a list of adjectives here that you could possibly add; the best part is you know it.


For some reason, within the last 5 years, I have seen this shift, the language and tone we talk to ourselves with has slowed down. Its eased off and let us off the hook. It's become trendy to ignore that voice. The few bad years of covid have let us pump the breaks on ambition and for no logical reason. In an attempt to rationalise our lack of effort, we project these content posts about how 'ok' it is to need a few months or years to relax, and realise how hard life is. That you’ve been through a hard time, and we need equal time to recover or bounce back. The problem here is, when is life ever not hard? People seem to accept this idea it's ok to short-change yourself because a period of life is rougher than others. We can never, ever know when life will be easy, or ready for us to start trying or give it all we have. So, the only logical position then, is to give it everything you have at the time you have to give it.


Who Does It Benefit?

I want to pose another question then… Who does it benefit? Who does it benefit if you do not strive with absolute effort to be the most you can possibly be? It doesn’t even matter what it is, at the bare minimum how does it not do the world justice to have another human amongst it striving to be more than they are? To aim towards overcoming. Whether that’s adversity, setbacks, bad luck or the old crappy genetics lottery?


If we zoom this conversation out, and look at you from a grander scale, when you act in a way that pushes your limitations and endeavours to become the best you can be, the world takes note. Even if that world is just your own around you. Do not downplay the impact you can have on those around you.


Think of any friend you’ve been around who sours at the thought of effort, who hunches over, and constantly talks about how hard the world is... I can say with almost certainty you become more like that person when you hang around them. You begin to question trying, putting in effort and expect sympathy because you weren’t born during some greater era with a more stable economic circumstance. We know for a fact, that friend is absolutely not being all they can be. We know within their world, they shriek, cower, and throw in the towel. Perhaps they were delt a shitty hand, maybe a few things were rough. So what? Who does it help for them to be this way?


What Happens When You Change?

Now, what happens if you stop acting like that friend, and instead focus on being a better you? There is so much you have to offer, so many skills you hide or lock away because it's perhaps not the skills that someone else was given, or may require some effort and courage to hone them. Well I say start mustering. There is no telling the affect you can have on your world, and the world at large when you begin to give the world what you have to offer. If that same friend can drag you down, then you can be the one to lift others up. When you stop playing so small, others begin to take note. The power of knowing someone else is getting after it motivates the ones around you to act in the same fashion.


Throw off the shackles of excuses and inherited struggle, embrace the idea that you can and should be the absolute best version of you. There is no telling what that impact may look like to yourself, those around you, and the world itself.


Play As Large As Possible

It is in my honest opinion, that the responsibility of every human is to play as large as possible. To be the most they can possibly be. To me, it is an insufferable waste of existence to be anything less, to play safe only to realise at the end, even safe doesn’t keep you alive. We all go out eventually, so why not make the most of the time you are here? Stop cowering over peoples opinions of what you do or say. I have done it and I regret every moment of it. Every time I was worried about stepping on someone elses light, over stepping their success to achieve my own. It did not serve me, it did not benefit me or those around me either way. All it did was waste the opportunities to be and do better.


One of the greatest quotes you will ever hear was by Les brown. “The grave yard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or carry out their dream.”


We have become so caught up in recovering from a 'tough year', or sounding offensive, or not displaying a privillage that you get to go to college or play sport etc. and so on because another may not get to. I call bullshit. I find that notion in itself offensive, in the sense that you have the opportunity and you are wasting it.


How dare you possess the chance to think bigger, dream better, move freely and not use it. Stop playing small out of hesitation or restraint for others. Your gifts, talents, abilities, and potential is in you. No one else will take that and use it. It's up to you to decide that you want it. When 2022 begins, I dare you to go after every single thing you want. Take it on and own it. You will do more for the world in being that person, than you will pandering to weakness and letting this idea that being a lesser version of you is better for the world.


Wrapping up...

I'll end this with one of my favourite quotes of all time, credited to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech:


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world, there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so others wont feel insecure around you, we are all meant to shine as children do. Its not just in some of us its in everyone. As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.”


Remember this the next time you think being anything less than you are truly capable of being, is ok.


- Ben.


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