Someone recently asked me “what makes you good at your job?” It’s a pretty straight forward question, and I should have a good answer, I mean less than 2 years ago I sold my current supervisor on why I was the exact person for this job.
Proudly I answered “I work hard, and I have a lot of related experiences leading up to this position.” I was then greeted with the response “no you can’t say you work hard, that’s not about you or your strengths that you bring to the position, what is special about you Sara Furr?”
As I sat wondering what was special about me, I was baffled that I didn’t have a response. The person in front of me waited so I had to say something, “well I’d say I’m organized but I’m more faux-organized, it just looks like I’m organized but I could so much better.”
How many of us do that? Name something we’re good at and then downplay it. This scenario has been playing over and over in my mind because I feel like I should have a better answer… no because I KNOW I should have a better answer.
In thinking about this exchange I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes. It is a quote you have probably heard at least a portion of before. It has shown up in a few mainstream movies, and a few pieces of it really stick out to me right now.
“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.”
It goes on “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.”
I find this quote very liberating and relevant to the situation I described. Not because I think I am particularly brilliant, gorgeous, or fabulous, though some people you talk to would say I’m pretty fabulous. J But I find this quote to be liberating because it allows me to be. Just be. And the world we live in, our society doesn’t often allow folks to just be. There are a lot things that prevent us from “being:”
– Expectations we put on ourselves
– Responsibilities to others
– Societal expectations
All of these things and many more impact our ability to be our authentic self, all the time. As women, this list not only goes on but we can multiply our responsibilities to others, navigating stereotypes in a subordinated identity and fighting to change societal expectations.
The quote continues on “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. 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.”
How often do you downplay the magnificent things you’re doing in the world? Maybe you do it because you think it will seem egotistical? Or because you don’t want others to feel inadequate? Or because the great things you do seem so ordinary that you simply forget the specialness that is you?
I remember my parents telling me when I was little that I could do and be anything that I wanted. And growing up I truly believed that. But as I grew older, my parents no longer had the monopoly on messages I received. So I began learning from the media, my older siblings, my peers. And somewhere I learned that “yes, I could do anything I wanted, I could be anything I wanted…within reason…” I stopped believing in the purity of that message.
And in one simple sentence I get that back. “It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.” Yes. I am special and valuable just for being Sara Furr. It’s not just reserved for a few people, it’s in everyone.
That’s what my parents told me when I was little. How do we all get back to a place where we not only believe that about ourselves but we believe that about others? Because it’s not enough for me to feel safe and secure and to have a strong support network that allows me to easily believe that. What am I doing in the world to help others know this as their truth too? Because I know not every child, student, adult, human being receives this message. So if I can believe it, what am I doing to help others believe it for themselves as well? “Because it’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone”. What choices am I making about how I spend my time inside and outside of the office to ensure that I’m fueling my own spirit and ultimately fueling others?
And I’ll close with my favorite part of the quote:
“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.”
Investing in yourself is an investment in your family, your workplace, your community, and your world. It’s not just about professional development; ultimately, it’s your personal development. I started off planning to write about being more than what is on your resume but sometimes life speaks to us when we least expect it. Liberate yourself from fear, discover your authentic self, and change the world.