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?
Yeah, OFTEN. 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? KIDS! Why? Well for one, they haven’t lived through the hell that is puberty, but children have one goal. TO PLAY. They want to create, question and explore. Children go to a playground, look for another kid who is having a good time, ask if they want to play, and they play. They don’t stop and say, "Oof (insert adult's name/title here), that is an attractive kid. They probably don’t want to play with me because I'm not pretty enough.” Or. “Oh man, that baby is rocking some awesome Tommy Hilfiger sailboat shorts, I bet they don’t want to play with me and my dirty blue pants.”
Kids just want to play! They want to play so much that they cry when they have to stop playing! They scream 5 more minutes! When have you ever cried when it was time to leave work or a workout going, "5 more minutes! I'm having so much fun!!!!"?
Yeah, probably never.
Something I see and hear from my friends every day is how unhappy they are at work. They feel like they--
1. Aren’t doing what they want to be doing.
2. Aren’t appreciated.
3. Aren’t making enough money.
4. Are overworked and underappreciated.
5. Don’t feel like their co-workers value them.
And yeah, some or all of the above may actually be true. But who is 100% happy every second of every day at work? It's work. BUT, it’s a balance.
I think they aren't being challenged or utilized which means they aren't having any fun. And I know what you’re thinking; it’s called work not play. But ironically, the opposite of play isn’t work. it's depression.
People do their best work when--
1. You believe in what you’re doing.
2. You care about the process and the outcome.
3. You work well with your team.
4. You feel like a valuable team member.
5. You believe your voice is being heard.
6. You are excited by the challenge.
7. You feel adequately rewarded or compensated.
(This list is endless.)
I know this is complicated but you'd think employers/companies/organizations/managers etc. would want 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 about not communicating. When did this show become an hour long catfight? I used to love me some Real Housewives but it’s gotten really hard to watch. So I turned on 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 was that a key component to a fostering 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. In Tim's words, “ …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 that we place on ourselves and others. No one wants to be 'too weird', or 'too annoying', 'too loud' or 'too vocal'. But honestly, I've 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, I still let what I perceive other people do or may think of me get to me, but I can promise you that making a conscious effort not to change to please others makes me a happier person.
Here's a great example, FLASH MOBS! Remember those? One person starts 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 in unison and it’s 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.
When was the last time you acted on an impulse without thinking about what other people will think of you? When was the last time you laughed so hard, your side ached? We laugh politely, we smile politely, we work politely. STOP BEING POLITE! Stop blending in. Embrace your differences and start coloring outside the lines. All day long I watch my friends work and live 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 (insert excuse here)" or "No one cares" they say. 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, you'll look stupid” or “Don’t rattle the cage,” “No one will like you if you wear that,” "You're not pretty enough," “That was a dumb joke,” “You're not good enough,” draw a circle around it because you HAVE to stop believing those little voices. And you HAVE to stop the negative self-talk because it's holding you 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.
Care more. Care about yourself. Believe in yourself. Stop anticipating failure and just dare to fail better.