Something very sweet happened this week. The Girl Effect organization named me as a “Girl Champion of 2010.” You can see their post about it here.
I want to tell you the story of how this came about, because I think it says a lot about what actually allows us to play big, and what actually causes us to get recognition.
So here’s the story.
Back in October, I made a new friend, Rachel Cole, a fellow life coach. Rachel told me about how much she loved food and community, and how she had organized a series of large, open-to-everyone food gatherings where everyone had to bring something homemade. They became a very hot thing here in San Francisco.
She told me about her “Wisdom books,” blank books she creates and distributes. People write a piece of wisdom and then pass it on to the next person, who writes their piece of wisdom. Dozens of these are circulating around the world. In the end the books get mailed back to her, and she’s going to do something amazing with them.
She told me about her “Porridge Manifesto” (then in progress, now ready for you), her reflections on making porridge and making a good life (Rachel shows us that there are a lot of parallels.)
You get the idea. All of these are stunningly unique, very cool. And the amazing thing is, she’s doing them.
After talking to Rachel about her creative projects, several things were evident to me:
· She gets an incredible amount of joy out of each
· Each one is the fruit of her own unique vision and creative inspiration
· She gets the ideas and then moves forward in making them a reality
· I could learn a thing or two from all this.
I realized: I was doing a lot of creative stuff in my life, particularly writing, but I wasn’t quite doing this: listening for and taking action around the inspirations I had to create things in the world.
I could remember a time I was living more like Rachel, which for me, was actually during the second half of high school. During that time, when a creative idea came that felt totally inspiring, resonant, meant to be — I would pretty much go with it. As a result of that, I was doing all kinds of pretty incredible things (performing a one-woman show, changing my high school English curriculum so it included more women writers, etc.), etc.
What I experienced during that time is that doing that brought me more recognition and praise than “working hard” and “competing” and “striving” ever did. Odd. It was easier. It was lighter. It was more fun. And it brought more worldly success and praise at the end.
I had left that space of free-flowing-ness with creative inspirations (outside of writing, that was.) I thought — I’m going to do this differently.
A couple weeks later, I came across the videos for The Girl Effect, a social media campaign spreading the message that one of the best ways to end world poverty is to invest in girls’ education and health.
I kept being drawn back to the videos, again and again, and one day, the idea popped up, fully formed: there should be a day when The Girl Effect takes over the blogging world — a day when everyone is writing about it.
All I had to do was let that creative impulse flow. All I had to do was not-do: not stop up that impulse with self-doubt or over-thinking or fear. Then the doing part (coordinating, completing tasks, etc.) was easy. And so I created a Girl Effect Blogging Campaign, and 170+ bloggers participated (and you still can if you’d like!), and tens of thousands more people were reached with The Girl Effect Message. And that’s how I became one of their Girl Champions of 2010.
Was I an expert in blogging campaigns or international development or girls in the developing world? No.
Did I have any particular role or background that made me “the right person to do this?” Not really.
I had an idea, inspiration, and the sense of deep rightness about moving forward with it.
We get planted with seeds — ideas, visions for something that wants to be created, and has chosen us to be its steward.
I think of them often as “assignments” because it can feel like the universe has just given us an assignment: “this work is yours to do.” They also feel to me like magic carpets, that sweep by us and hover and say, “step on, step on.” They carry the momentum, and we can be moved into incredible action by them if we allow ourselves to be.
Playing big happens when we allow our ideas and creative impulses to flow forth freely into action. It’s actually the result of doing that.
Here’s what is amazing. For my Playing Big course, I’m interviewing lots of women who know quite a bit about Playing Big. They are hanging out at #1 on the NY Times best seller list, speaking at TED, contending for “Time Magazine’s 100” — the 100 most influential people in the world.
So far, no one is playing big out of a project they carefully planned and prepared for decades, with all kinds of perfecting of an idea. What’s common in all their stories is a mindset and that mindset is: I’m open to inspiration, to ideas. When those powerful ones come and capture my mind and heart — I go with them. Wisely and boldly — they go for them.
They go with them not out of a desire for world domination, not out of a desire to create something big or achieve fame, but out of intense curiosity, inspiration and joy.
And then they get practical — they put all their skills and smarts and worldly knowledge to use in making the idea happen.
So the question is: is your narrative that success and praise and recognition come from all kinds of striving and becoming someone that you are not? What if it actually comes from within, quite literally, in that it comes from paying attention to your own creative inspirations and becoming a steward of them?
Could remarkable success and big impact actually come from being guided, receiving ideas from who knows where, and serving the ones that plant themselves in your heart?
Signs point to yes.
To learn more about the Playing Big course, CLICK HERE.