Are you playing the big game in life and going after what you really want, Or are you shrinking to accept life’s current circumstances?
I’ve been reflecting this last little bit on how easy it can be, when the pressure is on in life, in terms of things like your current bank balance, perceived work availability, partner, employer, family demands, resource scarcity and especially during times like the last two years of global circumstances relating to pandemics, lockdown and the far-reaching impact these have had on our social interaction, prior face to face earning capacity for many industries, and what reach or impact we can have out there in the world, for example, to start shrinking to life’s circumstances. Not just in ones psychic perception of how far one can physically go out into the world at such times and what is acceptable or possible to achieve at such times. It’s easy for your expectations or visions or weekly goals to also start shrinking to match.
When we start thinking in terms of fear and lack, it suddenly becomes very easy to start shrinking dreams, visions and daily goals and expectations, to fit the circumstance. To fit the external demands. To accept the status quo, to not want to rock the boat, especially if one perceives one is at risk of losing something that is now perceived as rare or more scarcer than it used to be. And that’s too much of a risk to take.
But then, if there are genuine circumstances in life we’re trying to break through and rise above, like your financial set point; like establishing ourselves as a Leader or Authority on a subject, like succeeding in upping your business service fees to be more profitable than charitable, like not repeating the same mental or karmic patterns at work, or in personal life, from a decade ago, that one never wanted to go through again; playing into the fear and limits of the old, is exactly how we can start to fall in the hole of creating and ultimately accepting, the precursors of the exact same thing all over again.
Example 1: We worry (especially as Women) about running out of money and the implications of not being able to pay bills or feed loved ones, or being evicted, so we temporarily give up and take the job that’s half the pay to what we could be getting, at almost the 11th hour, instead of backing ourselves and applying for 50 more, better fitting opportunities at double the pay rate, that we’re actually entitled to at our level of expertise. That same job, different day job you take again, eventually drains you in the same way, so you inevitably leave it, not being able to tolerate it any longer, likely before you really had a backup plan, only to end up in the exact same 11th hour circumstance when the back up funds run short, and be faced with the same decision again. When this same circumstance happens multiple times over the course of a decade, one makes a series of the same decision again and again, and then can wonder at the end of a decade why they’re still stuck in a job they hate, that sucks them dry, are still financially no better off and haven’t made the massive impact, or haven’t achieved the ascension and recognition one hoped one would’ve by now.
Example 2: Despite having a desire to want to connect with higher paying markets in one’s business, one concedes to serving and dropping their price for the same 20-200 people who can’t pay that, conceding it will help one get momentum and testimonials, increase reach and awareness and ultimately make a bigger difference in the world.
One ends up staying up and working huge hours trying to build out something that works for the people that are showing up. Only to end up realising later that they’re actually still building out ones services and offerings to meet the exact market and circumstances one was trying to move beyond’s needs, instead of building to meet the one they were wanting to break into instead. Then one might wonder at the end of a decade why they still have low paying clients, are still exhausted from overworking to serve them for low rates, are still trying to sort of their wounds and limiting beliefs and haven’t reached their financial goals. Let alone made the global impact they hoped to.
Example 3: One has a passion for doing something creative, like fashion design or dance or photography or cooking or singing or painting or building cute little cabinets from certain types of wood or knitting things. One really wants to do this and get paid for it. And maybe get some recognition for it for being really good at it. But again, every time one has some free time to do these things, or a break between work, which would allow a possibility for the pursuit of such things, one starts playing the lack game; lack of time, can’t justify doing this right now because need to do something that makes me more money, guaranteed, “i’ll do it right after I “pay off this thing,” “look after the needs of [insert person’s name from family or personal life.” And then, all of a sudden, a decade goes by, and one realised that one hasn’t accepted any of the extra or featured acting roles or singing jobs they signed up for, one hasn’t painted or knitted or created more than one cabinet and one still hasn’t made money from it and it’s still a pipe dream. That one indulges, occasionally, when one “has the time.”
But of course my love! Because what we often don’t realise in the moment of “the crunch” itself, is that what we were actually doing, almost every time we had a choice (and a window open to create a different reality) was shrinking to the perceived confines of the prevailing circumstances, out of fear and lack and doubt. Sticking to the known path, the predictable and safety of the comfortable. Swimming straight back to the shore, when we swim on out ok, but then panic when we realise how far out we are and that we can no longer touch the bottom. And thus went back to accepting the status quo. But what action did we commit and follow through on, to actually play a bigger game? And stick with that game, even when the grass on the pitch we’re nurturing hasn’t popped it’s shoots above the ground for us to see results yet?
I made alot of massive decisions, as it turns out, as I turned 40. One of those was to choose a theme of this year that reads like “PLAY BIGGER.”
Inspired by the stories of a few awesome people, who achieved Awesome things in the world, by choosing to back themselves, by choosing to actually share their “audacious” visions and ask for more than they were first offered, or told was “possible.”
On International Women’s Day, you might have seen I shared a blog with seven examples of high achieving Women (who never had biological children of their own), who refused to except the status quo and pushed all the boundaries in life and achieved amazing things, driven by the desire to want to make a positive impact in the world, to achieve new things for Women like them and change the limits of the way things were. It was here in case you missed it.
There are also two awesome Men who Immediately come to my mind as standout examples of people who chose to be audacious in the face of both opposition and opportunity, to play a bigger game and, in some cases, to be willing to reach higher and ask for more.
In his autobiography, Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey describes numerous times in his acting career where, from a young age, he was put forward for a particular role, a part that some colleague or agent or casting professional, producer or director initially had their idea of what they thought he could do or be. But then McConaughey had his own ideas of what he saw and his vision of how he thought a particular character could be played. Or his own idea to instead play a lead role that he thought he would be a great fit for. That rather than just secretly wishing for it like many people would, but saying nothing, and rather than just playing by the hierarchy, playing the game as you’re supposed to and auditioning for the part that he was put forward for, for not wanting to seem ungrateful, he was bold enough to put it out there to ask for the possibility to audition for a lead role/another character when he thought he’d actually be perfect for it instead.
When he was then given an opportunity to audition, he would go above and beyond to bring his visions of those characters to life and bring his own life experience, imagination, research, professionalism and empathy to them. In that way, he went from being type cast as, for example, some KKK bad guy, to successfully being offered the chance to play a hero and a Lead, like Jake Brigance in "A Time to Kill." He backed himself, he had the balls to just put it out there, he showed up, he delivered and history clearly shows his prize was that he won the bigger possibilities many times. Including earning an Academy Award for his Performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
His faith in his shared vision with the Creators of that movie was such that he started preparation and losing weight for that role a year in advance. Up until a couple of months before they were due to start filming, there were still major doubts as to whether there was sufficient funding to be able to complete that movie or not. Yet he felt to stay the course and keep trusting that it would work out. He stayed in regular touch, reinforcing that he knew it would happen. And history now shows that that movie happened and it's now a pinnacle of his career.
He now sits in my head as as a constant reminder that it’s ok to play bigger. To show up as your full potential. Put your visions out there. To ask for more. To have faith and be willing to receive something bigger as your means of service. To be brave and back yourself enough to stop excepting less than that, because we worry that this is all that we can get. Or, if we do get it, that we might “ $h&t the bed”, as Justin Timberlake once put it in “Friends with Benefits,” in reference to a job opportunity at GQ Magazine. (Well we might, but what if we also win? And what if even “$h&tting the bed” actually turns out to be a win?)
A little closer to home in Australia and NZ, last year, I was very fortunate to get to attend one of the inspirational speeches of the “awesome” Paralympic Sprinter and International Inspirational Speaker, Cam Calkoen. If you haven’t seen him speak, please see him. Cam’s story was that, from a young age he dreamed of travelling the world, entertaining and making a positive impact. He also had dreams of running. But, on account of the fact that he was born with Cerebral Palsy, he was told by Specialists and many Educators alike, that it was not realistic to think he would ever be able to do any of these things, for people with his condition. Cam decided he wasn’t having that as a reality. Took up trying to get exceptionally good at running….and came out a Paralympic Gold Medalist, before then going on to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. For someone who was told he would never walk well or be able to speak well, he also decided he wanted to get really great at Professional Speaking. Got to connecting with some leading organisations and BIG personalities in the processing of seeking opportunities to speak more, and is now an International Motivational Speaker and Social Entrepreneur, who has spoken to and inspired people across the world, despite, as he puts it, his “funny accent.” Again, his stories of not just what he refused to believe and what he's he’s achieved, but his decisions to go “why not” and just send those emails to the people he did, let alone to accept and rise to the possibilities, again, is the epitome of “dream big, achieve more” well-lived.
Many of us Women in particular are conditioned NOT to do any of this. How dare we be so bold and ungrateful to ask for more? But do we really want to keep playing that game, for fear of rocking the boat?
So the point of today? It’s a reminder to look for the ways in which we’re playing small and shrinking to fit our perceived, present reality. And to make sure we’re finding ways to stretch to rising into, and creating our actual destiny.
We can choose to have the audacity to raise the bar. To endure the freak out that can come when we will inevitably have to let go of what people and opportunities aren’t in alignment with, or willing to receive us in the full capacity of who we are here to be. Or to endure the equal freak out that can come when bigger opportunity actually presents itself….and find ways to lean into the excitement of it, into one’s faith in one’s entitlement to it, and keep going, until one realises one’s dream. Whatever, or whoever, it is.
Become aware of when you’re playing small and taking on the external world's perceptions of what is possible. Start making different decisions, moment to moment. Aim higher. Go for more. Do more that's in alignment with who you know you're truly here to become and what you know you're here to achieve. And surround yourself with the kind of support and belief system that pulls you more in the direction of your new reality, than back to repeating the old habits, relationships and circumstances you didn't want. Get busy something different to what you've always done, notice the moments where it's all working in your favour, and before too long, one day you'll look up and realise you're actually there and you've done it. Whatever it is. I look forward to hearing from you what you'll be doing to play your own bigger game this year and smiling with you about it when you're there. (Before too, but definitely when you're there!)
Until next time …
P.S. Live session support and events are back from April. You can check out what's on under the Events and Programs tabs on this site, and or book a time to chat, virtually NOW, or live from the second week of April, HERE.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.