Playing small

You’ll never be able to “play small” again

My conversation was with Ishita Gupta.

She was talking about the altMBA program, for which she is the Director of Partnerships.

According to Ishita, participants who experience this one-of-a-kind online immersive business education see what’s possible in 30 days. As a result, they push further than they ever dreamed they were capable of.

“And, when they start playing small again…it feels bad.”

They are forever transformed.

It reminded me of when my son would stretch the neck on his t-shirts. I would be patient with spills, tantrums, and sassiness, but when it came to self-induced saggy necklines I’d go ballistic. It was because I knew that once stretched, it would be impossible for that t-shirt to return to its former shape.

As Ishita spoke, vivid memories of my son’s kid-sized stretched head-holes floated back. Yet, as I listened to Ishita, I noticed that rather than a traumatic image, this time it was an inspirational one.

I quickly began to recall the times that I’d been permanently stretched. My shape, form, and belief in myself had expanded. As a result, my output, courage and confidence grew to fill the new space.

  • There was the time I spoke at my first conference, and people actually liked it.
  • The time I had to facilitate a leadership team gathering after my poor boss slipped and broke his ankle in the parking garage at work the day before the meeting.
  • The multiple times I showed up at work after sleepless nights with a newborn and found a wellspring of adrenaline to deliver quality work and support colleagues.

I share these not to point to my own instances where the neckline of the t-shirt was stretched…but to remind you of your stretched-beyond-recovery moments.

And, to give you permission to mark these moments with some self-reflection.

  • When was the last time you played big? Is it today?
  • In comparison to your playing big moments…have you gone back to playing small?
  • Who do you need to encourage to play big even if they have no idea (yet) that they can?

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