Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
At the age of 11 I was involved in our school musical. The budding musical sensation that I was, I loved the whole “musical” scene. But this musical would be different than any other, because I had a solo. Granted, the solo was only 3 words long, but these weren’t just any 3 words. No, this three-quarters of a measure would be sung at the very climax of the performance.
The entire musical, an adventure in the playground world of a group of children, led up to this one poignant moment in the story. In the silence of this moment, I would walk slowly forward, and sing my 3 words (with just the right mix of emotion, confidence and delicacy) to start the song that would have the whole audience pulling out the tissues.
This was my moment to shine.
But in the weeks leading up to the musical, as we practiced and practiced and practiced, I came to realize that a moment in the spotlight didn’t come without a cost.
It turns out, my 3-word solo was easily singable by my hecklers. Ok, my heckler. This one kid in my class who sang my solo at me – whenever he saw me in the hallway – with that tone that made my ears burn.
I was furious every time he taunted me.
A shy, sensitive kid at the best of times, I hated being called out by my peers, especially with that mocking tone.
It didn’t matter that I nailed my solo and heard sniffles throughout the crowd. During that musical I learned one important lesson:
Don’t try to stand out. Better to avoid attention by hiding in the shadows than to stand in the spotlight and bring on ridicule.
Ever been there? You pipe up, only to put your foot in your mouth. You take a chance, only to get shut down.
As Seth Godin points out in The Icarus Deception, our culture tells us to not fly too high, to not stand out or take a risk, to avoid getting burned.
Better to be average. A silent bystander. An anonymous face in the crowd.
Coincidentally, that song, that poignant-moment-3-word-solo song focused on this very thing. We sang about daring to dream, reaching for new heights, aspiring to great endeavors.
The 3 words in my solo?
“Climb a mountain”.
(Told you it was epic).
Because while is safer to stay low, to play it safe, we all know that we were born to climb the mountain.