What is playing big?

I often hear from women that when they hear the words “playing big,” they have a kind of mixed reaction.

On the one hand, the idea of playing bigger calls to them.

They don’t want to keep having that subtle, sneaking sense that they are playing small – holding back, hiding, waiting on what they most want to do. They want to have a greater impact for good. They want to feel free, comfortable in their skin – no longer hesitant in sharing their ideas, their creations.

On the other hand, “playing big” gives them pause. They know their plate is full (or overfull) already. Is this just going to be one more item on their to-do list? And do we all really need to play big, they ask. Isn’t that yet more macho, egotistical thinking?

Of course, all of these questions are valid.

Let me tell you what “playing big” means in the work I do.

My shorthand definition of playing big is this: Playing big is being more loyal to your dreams than to your fears.

I believe our dreams are important – extremely important. I believe that they tell us about the life our authentic selves want to lead. They tell us about our purpose here. They tell us about what kind of life and career will bring each of us a sense of fulfillment.

And yet, for all of us human beings, life poses so many challenges in honoring our dreams. Fear and self-doubt rage like storms within us, especially when it comes to our most important dreams and callings! We find brilliant ways to hide or rationalize why we need to hold off for a bit. On top of inner challenges, we may face bias and stereotyping. And we are rightly concerned with practical matters – financial constraints, health challenges, caregiving responsibilities – and it’s usually not clear how to boldly go for our aspirations in the midst of them.

Playing Big is about navigating all those inner and outer challenges so that you can indeed live a life and pursue a career that is aligned with your dreams, your callings, what holds meaning for you.

Playing big is always determined from the inside out. It is highly individual to each person, and it is about you going for your authentic dreams.

Only you can discern what playing big looks like for you. It might involve doing something that looks prestigious and impressive in the world’s eyes, but just as often for women I work with, playing big means doing something that doesn’t look “big” to others – like stepping away from a conventional job to a more entrepreneurial one, or reclaiming a long-lost creative passion, or starting a project for the good of their local community. They know, on the inside, that this is what true playing big looks like for them.

Playing big is also never exhausting. It is not about striving, working harder, doing more. It is not about pressuring yourself.

Playing big is about releasing the pressure on yourself, opening up to your authentic longings and finding gentle, sustainable ways to live them out.

The truth is that playing small is what drains us, putting us in a tug of war with our own desires. Playing big is energizing – it’s about letting ideas, creativity and action flow naturally in your life and work.

What is one small step you can take today to play bigger in the ways that matter most to you? Having a difficult conversation you’ve been putting on hold? Admitting to yourself what you really want? Testing out a new idea with the people you want to serve? Sending that scary-thrilling-stretch email to a potential collaborator, client, or employer? 

Registration for the 2018 Playing Big Program is now open.
We would love to have you join us! Learn more about this unique experience and dynamic community, and get your spot here.