Let’s talk team and team work today. Some of us struggle a lot with working with people. The problem might be that we fear our inadequacies and focus too much on these fears.
Two quotations I find relevant today are both from Marianne Deborah Williamson. One of these quotes, wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela, says
“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, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”
I was once a timid child with a lot of insecurities, I still battle with a few of them. One of the greatest struggles I had was leadership. I constantly self-doubted and compared myself to others. This was because I believed everyone had something better to bring to the table than I did. I gave myself very few chances to shine.
Right up to my service in the National Youth Service Corp, I had not taken on any serious elected leadership roles. I had led a religious student group but not elected leadership positions. I didn’t pay attention to these things and it cost me my first job opportunity.
Most of the questions at my first interview were focused on my role as a leader in the volunteer positions I’d listed. I was asked, “Was there ever a situation where someone brought an idea and you helped them make it a reality as the leader?” The interviewer asked me a lot of similar questions.
I realised I had never led consciously and/or responsibly. My work had little or no record of my roles as a leader and I was just there by chance and not by choice. It wasn’t until I decided to purposefully lead and allow myself to shine did I know what I was capable of. In my service year, we made memories that year and had fun developing talents. Our teammates learned to research on career objectives, speak to audiences about their knowledge and most importantly work together.
STOP PLAYING SMALL
Marianne also says and I quote
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.”
One of the feelings I struggled with at NYSC was the need to not intimidate others. I was younger than most of the people in my university class so I struggled with taking any role that would put in the spotlight. I didn’t want to intimidate anyone with being smart and at the same time being a leader by nature. How can you make others smarter by dumbing yourself down? You have to love yourself first and then others will learn to live with who they are.
In Paul’s letter to Philemon he says “…and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.” This sixth verse of Philemon’s chapter stuck with me for years since I read it.
Every time shame, self-doubt, and fear crept up on me, I remembered this passage. There is some light in you that needs to shine. Acknowledging that there is good in you is a great asset that would push you forward in life’s struggle. It has nothing to do with your age or status. You owe yourself this.
Asher Foggle shares how she had to publicly talk about a miscarriage. I like the way she reflected the common sentiment about social media. People seem to think hiding their success or failure makes them safe. In fact, it serves no purpose. Asher’s disclosure led to many others connecting with her story and being a support for her. Write your story. Allow yourself to shine even when you fail.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO SHINE
I have seen this happen a lot of times. The more we allow ourselves to shine through even when we feel like we have failed, the more we permit others to shine too. I think one of the strongest ways to grow is by developing the ability to express our failure just as much as we express the success.
One of the letters to Asher recommends “Find the positive, however small.” The writer says she pulled through her struggles when she realised she was not alone. This little positive awareness can only come when you don’t see failure as an isolated calamity caused by your undeserving nature. No one was designed to fail. Even the most deserving of success sometimes fail. Allowing ourselves the freedom to talk about failure is a way to liberate others from the self-derision. “Oh, it’s just me! I’m just bound to fail. Nothing good can come from someone like me!”
Wait! What’s so unique about someone like you? Why do you think you are more deserving of failure than any other? Or less deserving of a shine. You deserve to shine just as much as any human.
Leaders who are able to write and express their failures have accepted that success is beyond individual adequacy. It is a team thing.
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