There is a time and a place for nurturing the “little guy” inside of you, and we all need that balance, that protection, and that sense of peace and comfort every day. We need to be able to come and go to that sanctuary of comfort and security, but we can’t succeed in living our dreams if we stay there in that place of smallness and never leave. At times, all people feel stuck in their smallness, and struggle to overcome those feelings. What makes the difference between those who stay stuck, and those who rise to greatness? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple approach to rising up to our potential? Turns out, there is.
The first step in overcoming smallness is advice you may have received from your mother growing up: choose your associates carefully. Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Take a moment to consider the 5 people with whom you spend the most time right now. Who are you around most of your day? Your spouse, coworkers, friends, extended family? Pick the 5 adults you are around the most. Write down their names or initials now. Next to each name, write down your best guess at their income. Write down 2-3 benefits you get from spending time with them every day (what’s in the relationship for you?). Write down their best personality characteristic (funny, smart, charming, easy to talk to,frugal, etc).Then, write down their worst quality, or things about them that really annoy you. Now, think about your goals and dreams. Do you want to become exactly like these 5 people? Is what they give you worth what it costs you to be around them?
Success Magazine publisher Darren Hardy once told a story about an associate of his that spent all day every day cultivating his story about everything wrong in his life. The guy was just negative all the time and was always talking about how bad everything was. Eventually Mr. Hardy decided to end his association with this friend because of the constant negativity. If there’s someone in your “inner circle” who is always negative, always critical. always belittling your goals and dreams, begin to create distance between them and yourself.
But what if that negative person is your boss, or worse yet, your spouse? If it’s your boss, you will need to carefully consider whether or not you want to spend your career around so much negativity. Many entrepreneurs started their own businesses just to get away from a controlling, negative boss. But if it’s a job you really love, or a spouse, you can choose what messages you keep in your head and what you let float on down the river in your mind. You can be a positive influence on others. Post inspiring quotes and motivating photos in your workspace (or home), make a success board of your achievements or a vision board of your future, play uplifting music softly in the background, or make a pact with yourself that everytime you see the negative person you are going to compliment something about them. If it’s hard to find a genuine compliment, follow the example of Forrest Gump, “Those must be comfortable shoes!”
Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambition. Small people always do that.” In some ways, we appreciate the naysayers in our lives, because they “keep it real” for us. They remind us of potential pitfalls, point out areas of vulnerability we may have overlooked, and keep us “grounded.” When people like that speak, consider what they say, but don’t absorb it, or take it to heart. Just because someone else couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean you can’t. Don’t let anyone talk you out of achieving your dreams. You can succeed. You may fail a thousand times before you finally hit the target, but success doesn’t come to the smartest, the fastest, the strongest, or the best. It comes to those who refuse to give up, who never quit trying. What if a baby trying to walk just gave up after falling down a few times and resigned himself to life in a wheelchair? Wouldn’t that be tragic? Keep getting back up, no matter how many times you fall. The second step in overcoming smallness is to be centered in yourself.
In an interview posted on Youtube, Gary Vaynerchuk says that there are two kinds of people who set out to build the tallest building in town.
The first type of person will buy all the surrounding property, and knock all those buildings down so that his new building is the tallest. The second type of person will just simply build a taller building. Be the second type of person. There will always be those people in your life who criticize you, the “haters” who never have anything good to say no matter what you do. Outgrow them. Who you are isn’t your body, it isn’t your bank account, it isn’t your house, car, or investment portfolio. Who you are deep, down inside, no other person really knows. Only you truly know you. Be centered in yourself.
The final step in overcoming smallness is to stand tall in fear. Grizzly bears are one of the fiercest predators on the planet. Their bite alone is capable of crushing a bowling ball. Yet when they feel threatened or attacked, they stand on their hind legs and make themselves appear as tall as they possibly can. They don’t have to prove their power, they just stand tall and let it speak for itself. When you feel attacked, threatened, or endangered, stand tall. Square your shoulders, hold your head up high, take a deep breath, and stand your ground. Be confident and know that you can succeed. Be like the guy who said, “Some days I just feel like giving up. But then I remember that I have so many people to prove wrong.” Don’t cower down in defeat. Failure is just education and redirection. Its a sign that something needs to be adjusted. Tweak the recipe, but for crying out loud, don’t stop cooking. Alyssa Harris gives great advice: “The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.” Stand tall in your fear, and move on to the greatness within you. There is a message the world needs to hear that only you can deliver.