As a life and business coach, I have the opportunity to meet and work with tons of amazing women. You know who you are: alpha female sisters with tons of talent, power, and passion for what you do. You’re qualified, you’re creative, you’re driven, you’ve got great energy, and you don’t let anything stand in your way.
Well… anything except for yourself.
One thing I’ve noticed both in my own life and throughout my work as a coach is that sometimes, the one thing standing in between us and our dreams, is ourselves. No matter how badass a boss-lady we might be, when it comes to playing big, we always end up playing small.
Maybe, for you, playing it small means using words like “practical”, “realistic”, “responsible”, and “good” — words that might sound positive, but ones that women often use to keep ourselves small; to enable ourselves to continue to play small. To stay stuck in a job, a relationship, a health or lifestyle situation that isn’t serving us.
Maybe, playing it small comes from a fear-based mindset: one that says we’re not good enough, that there’s always someone who can do our job better, that we’re charging too much for the work that we do. Maybe that mindset tells you that asking for something — more clients, increased pay, that promotion, a new position entirely — isn’t worth the risk of rejection.
Maybe, in your experience, playing it small grows from a lack mindset. You’ve learned to believe that there isn’t enough to go around — enough money, enough resources, enough clients, enough opportunities — so you constantly have to be on guard for competition; hording the success you do have while refusing to risk losing it on a bigger venture.
Maybe you play it small out of fear of success. You’ve bought into the idea of “no pain, no gain.” Nothing good comes easy — and your dream is so big, achieving it must be impossibly hard, right? Maybe you believe that in order to be successful you have to sacrifice a lot, and you have to do it all alone. It’s you against the world. If you’re too successful, you won’t be able to handle it. Your family will suffer, your marriage will deteriorate, you won’t be able to handle the stress, and then you’ll lose everything.
Maybe you’re comfortable just coasting. If you’re already a high-performing woman, maybe you think you’re playing it “big enough”. For you, playing small is still pretty powerful. So why not just coast along, staying under the radar and avoiding too great a risk? It’s so tempting — and safe — to stay in one stagnant (but yeah, mediocre) spot.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Ask yourself: when you think about playing big, what fears or mental blocks come to mind? What resistance do you notice that you might have to work though?
I’ve shared my story before: since childhood, I learned a certain set of rules about how people — and women in particular — should behave in the world. It was necessary to always behave well, get straight As, graduate with honors, get a good job, have a lot of friends, get promoted, keep working hard to show my worth, get married, have a family, have stability, feed my retirement account, retire at 60, have grandchildren. There was a clear set of rules for how to live a successful life, and these rules were the only rules.
You’ve probably heard a lot of these rules in your own work, relationships, and life. They’re rules like: be humble. Be a team player. Don’t shine your light. Dream, but not too big — only dream the dreams you can afford to dream. Don’t be disagreeable. Communicate passively, or people won’t like you. Don’t speak too loudly. Stay small and feminine, or you’ll become abrasive to others. Dress neatly and attractively. Go above and beyond what everyone else is doing — but don’t take too much credit. Constantly prove your worth. Remember that your health and personal life come after your professional life. Distance yourself from loud or “trouble-making” women — opinionated women, women who other people think are difficult, alpha women, challengers of the status quo.
I followed these rules for 30-some years. And guess what? They worked: I was successful in the corporate world, I got promoted, people liked me. And at the end of the day I was miserable. When I look back at that time, I feel like I followed those rules because those were the rules, but I never thought to question them. Who wrote those rules? Whose rules are those? Whose success are those rules designed to support? All those rules do is keep us small and rob us of our joy. Those rules prevent us from manifesting our dreams and building the lives that we want.
What if we wrote our own rules? What would that look like?
The truth is, there’s only one person who has the right to write the rules you follow as you live your life and run your business, and that person is you. The rules you follow should be your own rules, so you can live and work in a way that is authentic and feels good to you. This is the only way you’re going to be able to create the life you desire.
From now on, I’m writing my own rules.
Here are some of the rules I follow now:
If you were to write your own rules, what would you write? Would you know how to start? Would you recognize rules that feel authentic to you? Do you know your core values? Do you feel connected to your intuition? Are you in tune with yourself enough to write — and then follow — your own rules?
-Am I selling myself short?
-Am I staying within my comfort zone?
-What if I took this opportunity?
-What if I went after that dream?
-But what if I’m not rejected?
-What if it is a huge success?
-What if, instead of playing small, I jumped in with both feet and played it big?
You have the choice to stay where you are or you have the choice to step outside of your comfort zone, tune in to your deepest desires, break through your deepest fears, and manifest the life you really dream of.
What if we all collectively decided to stop playing small? What if we decided to all start playing bigger? What if each one of us decided to set the intention to write our own rules? How much could we do to change this world? What kind of positive impact will we make when we start showing up and playing big?
Don’t you want to be a part of that?
To stop playing it small as start playing it big, check out the Facebook Live video that accompanies this blog post, connect with other like-minded women in my Alpha Female Sisterhood Facebook page, or sign up to receive updates about my 21 Day Mindset Makeover program. It could be the first step in playing life even bigger than you’ve been dreaming.
Meet Seo Kelleher, an intuitive coach for life and business, committed to empowering women. "I am passionate about helping women find the courage to transform their lives by embracing their vulnerability and taking the responsibility."