Like many smart, hard-working girls, I remember being called a show-off or a smarty pants when I was in school simply because I let my intelligence and personality shine through. I was proud of my good grades through middle school, but then in high school, I noticed that the most popular girls were not the ones with the highest GPAs.
I began “forgetting” my homework and stopped studying for tests so I could fit in with the popular crowd. Then my Spanish teacher cornered me privately to ask why I was holding myself back. I burst into tears, but she made me realize that my actions were only hurting my future, not helping me become popular. That conversation still serves as a reminder to me that there’s nothing wrong with being true to yourself and letting your own light shine. In fact, that can lead you to even greater success.
Many smart, successful women once shared this same fear of being seen as conceited. Even Oprah Winfrey recalls a time in third grade when she earned praise from a teacher and the other students whispered, “she thinks she’s so smart.” Although Winfrey hated to be seen as full of herself, she has worked through those feelings because she understands the truth about hiding your light.
Too much humility can hurt your business.
I see many adults, especially women, still struggling to let their light shine (or not trying at all). One of my coaching clients, whom I’ll call Kristy, has a six-figure business, but she shared with me her desire to grow her business to even greater heights. Each session, we’d outline steps that would help her grow her business, and she’d agree to them. Then we’d meet again, and she’d admit that she hadn’t moved forward. Something was holding her back. As we dug deeper, we discovered that Kristy’s fear of being called too big for her britches or overly ambitious kept her business from taking off.
Only when I convinced her that achieving success and helping more people was her destiny did she agree to truly step it up and work toward her goals.
It’s time for you!
Every one of us is born with a gift to share with the world. Many people choose mediocrity, because that makes it easier to fit in at school and in the wider world. But mediocrity does not lead to success. If you’ve begun to feel restless or wonder if there might be something more out there, it’s not too late.
I’ve found that allowing myself to shine has come more from letting things go than from taking more things on. Ponder these questions: what doesn’t fit you anymore? Your current business? Job? Friends? Activities? Responsibilities? Hobbies? Clothes? Let go of what doesn’t feel like the true you, and soon you’ll find your true self emerging.
I now realize that my (and everyone’s) true purpose is to be filled with all of who I am. To truly shine brightly.
© 2009 Ali International, LLC
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