7 Signs You’re Playing Small (And How to Stop)
There are always signs you’re playing small. I’m writing this article with one purpose: to get you from wherever you are now, to wherever you know you should be.
I should warn you that this article is probably different than any other you have read on this topic because of my obsession with keepin’ it all the way real. It’s the only way I know how to be.
My college roommate confessed that she hated telling me about her missteps and struggles with playing small because I was always so brutally honest.
I’d say I’m a damn good friend if that’s the worst thing she can say about me.
You see, most people don’t want to be called on their shit. They’d prefer a world where they could live in the shadows and pick money from the trees, sleep their way to success and avoid shining their light on others.
Heck, I’d love that world!
But in the words of the talented Ms. Diana Ross:
“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.”
I admit that making it happen has been a lifelong task for me. But I’ll die trying to turn these lemons into lemonade because playing small just doesn’t work for me. And it shouldn’t work for you.
Here are seven signs that you’re playing small and how to stop:
1. You wait to be asked
… to provide your services, to showcase your talent, to talk at the meeting, to shake your booty on the dance floor. Jumping out there seems sleazy and uncomfortable. What if you say something stupid? What if people criticize your opinion? Nope, much better to sit quietly. That way you avoid the embarrassment of putting your foot in your mouth.
Real talk: If you wait to be asked, the opportunity may never come. My husband swears I grabbed his butt when we first met and asked him to dance. If I did, it’s because I knew what I wanted and wasn’t going to miss out on a good thing.
2. Fear defeats you
No matter how talented you are, you can’t bring yourself to share your gift with the world. What if they say you suck? What if they laugh? Instead, you keep your talents to yourself and complain about not being able to live out your dreams.
Real talk: I had this conversation with one of my cousins who sings like an angel but will only do so while she’s in the car or shower. I told her straight up: when God gives us a gift, we are obligated to bless others with it. If you’re not willing to do that, He may not be willing to let you continue to carry his gift.
3. Criticism crushes you
I confess that this is a big problem for me. I can get 100 clients to give me incredible feedback about my business writing services, but let me get even one person who criticizes me, and it’s the end of the world. I don’t want to write anymore. I want to tear down my website and crawl in bed.
Real talk: Nobody’s perfect, and everybody is not going to love you. But that doesn’t discredit your success or your talent. Criticism shouldn’t crush you. Use it to make yourself better.
4. You hide your voice
OMG, this one is serious. You have no idea how many clients I work with who come to me and say: “make my website copy sound like hers because she’s killing it in my niche.” Your voice isn’t good enough so you’ll just steal someone else’s. She’s already winning so why recreate the wheel?
Real talk: She’s winning because she’s being herself. Like my boy, Jay Z says in A Dream, Blueprint 2:
“…Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself…”
You will NEVER reach your full potential until you let people see your true awesomeness.
5. “No” murders your hustle
When people tell you “no,” you see it as confirmation of what you already suspected: you’re a loser. Hearing this word makes you want to put out the “gone out of business” sign and give up. They only said no because you suck. So why are you doing this?
Real talk: You’re going to hear dozens of no’s before you hear one yes. That’s just how life works. But it doesn’t mean you give up. Albert Einstein said it best:
“I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. It’s because of them I’m doing it myself.”
6. You crowd your life with insignificant shit
You’re busy, busy, busy. You’re running errands. Cooking dinner. Watching reality shows. Tuning in every week for Scandal. But the real scandal is you’re not doing anything you should be doing to achieve your dreams. And at the end of the day, you wonder why you’re stressed and depressed. Your life feels empty.
Real talk: You can’t do everything. If you want to have a successful business, you’ve got to prioritize. Yep, that means writing your website copy and catching Scandal on the DVR. Having a pizza day, so you can finally get your sales page up.
7. Nobody knows what you do
I saved the best for last! You’re a giver. You share your wisdom in Facebook Groups. You post amazing images on Instagram, and you share all your friends’ articles on LinkedIn. But when it comes to telling people what you do, you have no words. People should just guess what you do because you’re always being so helpful. They should stalk your Facebook page to find out what you do because you’re so awesome.
Real talk: No one’s going to search for your fairy dust. Either you sprinkle it on them or they’ll find someone else who will. You’ve got to tell everybody what you do. I’m not saying be a sleazy salesman, but you have to be true to who you are and let people know your superpower.
And that’s it. Here’s a final thought from Jack Canfield:
“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”