Published in Womeninc, December 2008
by Diana Gabriel
The close of a year is usually accompanied by festive celebrations with family and friends. As you gather with yours, this year, I would invite you to reflect on how you have shown up in 2008. Have you been successful in letting go and accomplishing a deep cleaning of the soul? Have you discovered your purpose and are you living it? Have you brought your gifts and strengths to the table, offering them where needed? Have you made a difference in someone’s life? Have you played bigger?
Playing bigger is a theme that has taken on deeper and broader meaning for me this year. When I first started this journey, my focus was on my professional way of being. As with everything in life, our way of being has a ripple effect and touches all aspects of our lives, not just one area. I lost my father this summer, and those around me have also been suffering losses of marriage and dreams, jobs, family members and health. These circumstances offer us unique opportunities to be in choice with how we want to show up and how we handle the emotion, pain, dysfunction and the individuals involved. It takes strength of character to bear witness to these circumstances and stay the course you have chosen, in terms of who you are and how you want to show up in life.
The idea of playing bigger seems to have resonated with many readers as well. I have received a lot of feedback on my last two columns that deal with this issue. Many people have felt the call or have felt pulled to play bigger, redefining how they show up. Some have described feeling, for the first time in their lives, as if they are not working in a job or a career, but in their Calling, and they are no longer playing safe and small. Some people have made a public declaration of this and others have chosen to remain very private. I find it interesting to observe how all of this plays out. Can one play bigger privately? Is there a difference in impact? How does our playing bigger affect those in relationship with us?
Some people playing a bigger game have raised a common question – how do I get those around me to play their bigger game? Those who have embraced and claimed playing bigger report experiencing a new excitement and are having a lot of fun. At the same time they are struggling with feeling very frustrated by their co-workers, who are satisfied with doing things the way they have always been done. In some cases the long-term future of their business depends on everyone making significant changes. So the dilemma lies in how people wanting to play a bigger game can inspire others and light a fire under them for the greater good. How do they convey that innovation, risk-taking and bringing more of what you have to offer to the table is essential for surviving and thriving?
It has been my experience that if a person has not identified a sense of purpose and has not articulated and claimed their strengths, this change is very, very hard to make. I believe that most people want to feel valued, but choose instead the secure, predictable known way of being, rather than face the unknown. The delicate balance lies in honoring their fear of change and the unknown, at the same time providing an environment that encourages and supports their greatness. If you find yourself in that position you may want to reflect about what prompted you to take the new path you are on. Can you articulate your journey? What is it like for you? Are there opportunities to offer the “stuck” people?
At the end of this year, perhaps the next challenge for us in playing bigger is to recognize that part of that action involves being compassionate and helpful to those who do not share our journey. We might also need to be willing to let some people go, for the sake of forward movement. This could be an area of courageous decision-making for us. As we prepare to enter the New Year – being in choice and living with conscious intention – I wish you a great holiday season and a heart at peace.