Our Deepest Fear is Not That We Are Inadequate
“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 that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
How many times in your life have you been shooshed? How many times in your life have you stopped yourself from doing something because you thought you would look “stupid." How many times have you stopped yourself from starting something because you didn’t think you could do it? CUT IT OUT. Why do we continue to allow a fear of being judged by our peers stop us from doing the things we want to do? Do you want to know who isn’t afraid of being judged by their fears? Children! Why is this? Well for one, they haven’t lived through high school, or they haven’t been ridiculed and laughed at, but children have one goal and that is to play, create and explore. They go to a playground, look for the closest kid who is having a good time and they join them. They don’t stop and say, "Oof Mommy (or Daddy), that is a beautiful child. They probably don’t want to play with me.” Or “Oh man that baby is rocking some awesome Tommy Hilfiger sail boat shorts, I bet they don’t want to play with me.” NO kids just want to play! They want to play so much that they cry when they have to leave! They scream 5 more minutes! When have you ever cried when it was time to leave work going 5 more minutes? Yeah, probably never.
Something I see and hear from my friends every day is how they are unhappy at work. Why is this? Well…
1. They aren’t doing what they want to be doing.
2. They aren’t appreciated.
3. They aren’t making enough money.
4. They are overworked.
5. They don’t feel like their co-workers value them.
Sure, all of the above may actually be true. But honestly who is 100% happy every second of every day at work? But it’s a balance. What it boils down to is they aren’t being challenged, they don’t believe they can be creative or resourceful, and they aren’t having any fun. I know what you’re thinking; it’s called work not play. BUT IRONICALLY the opposite of play isn’t work! The opposite of play is depression. When do you do your best work?
1. When you believe in what you’re doing.
2. When you care about the process and the outcome.
3. When you work well with your team.
4. When you feel like a valuable team member.
5. When you believe your voice is being heard.
6. When what you are doing is exciting and challenging.
7. When you feel adequately rewarded or compensated.
(This list is endless.)
It seems so simple. Why don’t organizations all aspire to foster playful and creative environments? If you want to put out the best product why not implement a business model that ensures happy employees? Happy employees = better products = happy customers.
Yesterday was my rest day which meant I had 3 hours before I went to bed at a blissful 10:00pm. I hopped onto the couch ready to binge watch some Real Housewives of Orange County. Five minutes in and I had to change the station. They were, surprise, fighting. When did this show become an hour long cat fight? I mean, I love me some Real Housewives but it’s gotten really hard to watch. So I clicked over to NetFlix and to my surprise found that there were Ted Talks on there. You can only imagine my excitement. So I chose “The Best of Ted” and began my first Ted Talk by Steve Keil titled “A Manifesto for Play and Bulgaria and Beyond.”
He opened up with “I'm here today to start a revolution." I was like sign me up, what are we revolting for!?! Then he went on to talk about EXACTLY what I just outlined above. He spoke about how the opposite of play is depression. How play elicits adaptability and teaches you how to be creative and innovative. How play helps you develop cognitive emotional maturity. How play stimulates creativity. And that we don't believe adults should play. We think adults need to be serious. WHICH IS INSANE! Can you imagine a life without play? I can't! All I do is play. But one thing he didn’t touch on, that is a key component to a creative environment, is creating a safe and caring environment.
When I got into bed I continued my Ted Talk journey and stumbled upon “Creativity and Play” by Tim Brown. He picks up right where Steve Keil left off. He says, “ …we fear the judgment of our peers, and we’re embarrassed about showing our ideas…to those around us. And this fear is what causes us to be conservative in our thinking. So we might have a wild idea, but we’re afraid to share it with anybody else.”
It takes tons of time and loads of effort to strip off the rules and restrictions we and society place on us. No one wants to be to weird, or to annoying, too loud or to vocal. But honestly, I have lived my whole life marching to the beat of my own drum and I make a sincere effort not to take myself too seriously and not to listen to what other people say about me. I’m not perfect, sticks and stones break bones and words hurt as well, but I can guarantee by making an effort to not edit myself or stop myself from being goofy and silly makes me a happier person. Want to hear a perfect example? FLASH MOBS! Remember those? One person starts out dancing. You think, “what on earth look at that crazy person.” Then another joins, and another, and ten more. Before you know it a huge group is dancing and it’s suddenly not so weird but totally awesome. Everyone's having an amazing time and they are apart of something HUGE. Dare to be the person who dances first. Dare to be yourself.
“What do you mean dare to be myself? How can I not be myself, I am myself.” You know what I mean. When was the last time you acted on an impulse? When was the last time you laughed so hard your side ached. We laugh politely, we smile politely, we work politely. STOP BEING POLITE! Please stop blending in. Embrace your differences and start coloring outside the lines. All day long I watch my friends work politely. They do what's asked of them and they have BRILLIANT ideas. But they don't think they can tell anyone about them. "I'm just a blank" or "No one cares" they say. Well my advice, find someone who cares.
Change only comes when you’re open. Whenever you feel that little voice tell you “You probably shouldn’t do that,” or “Don’t rattle the cage,” “No one will like you if you wear that,” "Your not pretty enough," “That was a dumb joke,” “Your not good enough,” draw a circle around it! Because you HAVE to stop believing those little voices. And you HAVE to stop holding yourself back.
Life is short. Be grateful to be here. If you’re not happy, make a change. If you’re not happy at work, find joy outside of work or get a new job. If you’re not part of the solution you’re allowing the problem to persist. Just care more. We don’t care enough. Care about yourself. Believe in yourself. Stop anticipating failure and just dare to fail better.