Years ago I read a quote believed to be attributed to peace leader Nelson Mandela. I was told he said these profound words at his 1994 inaugural speech.
“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.”
These words strongly resonated with me and I had often looked at this inspired passage as a reminder to embrace shining bright. Turns out President Mandela is wrongly misquoted and these powerful words in fact belong to Marianne Williamson’s book ‘A Return To Love’ (oops – sorry Marianne). I’m not sure quite how it penetrated the public domain of Mandela-isms but nevertheless it’s false author at least allowed the message to spread further.
So what is this powerful message? It’s a message about owning and fulfilling your potential. It’s a reminder of your strength and the ability to achieve your greatness. It’s a call to action to shine bright and inspire others to do the same. And yet, somehow, the idea of stepping forward, walking into the spotlight, owning an opportunity is not embraced – it’s deflected. It calls into questions not only our fear of failure but our fear of success. Are we scared of our own dreams and wishes?
Sometimes labelling a problem is a good start and you’ll be happy to know that famed American psychologist (best know for his theory on humans “Hierarchy Of Needs”) Abraham Maslow has called it “The Jonah Complex”.
If you don’t have time to read The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, then you might finds Wikipedias outline useful. In short it lists causes of what might evoke a Jonah Complex including but not limited to fear of responsibility, fear of a lack of acceptance, fear or arrogance and difficulty imagining ones greatness. These can be brought on by a number of changes including a new job, moving locations or beginning a project. I suppose it’s most likely to peep it’s head when you’re called upon to step up and succeed.
SO…Knowing that you’re part of the Jonah family is a great start but then what do you do? Well luckily Maslow has an anecdote of sorts, a question to evoke courage and step up to the plate. Five magical words – “If not you, then who?”
That’s right – who? Why should someone else be more deserving of brilliance? Aren’t you allowed a moment in the sun, do you not have great gifts to share with this world. Life has it’s own way of providing us with trials but our greatest obstacle should not be ourselves.
“Your playing small does not serve the world”
– Marianne Williamson
Continuing on with Ms Williamson, she continues to provoke our inner Jonah Complex. Why should you be small? Why should you shrink? Aren’t you worthy of GREATNESS?
And now for the best part of the Marianne Williamson quote which maybe answers WHY you should shine, it is this…
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others people permission to do the same”
BOOM! It’s right there. Why take a leap and fulfill your potential? Because you set the example. You’re not dulling anyone else’s light, you’re encouraging them to shine. You’re being true to your authentic self and in doing so provide courage for others to pursue their own paths of greatness.
So if you’re struggling to be great for you, because you hold a fear of success, perhaps knowing you’re helping others might in fact help you achieve what you’re so absolutely capable of doing. So go ahead, be great – because if not you, then who?
Written by Danielle Lauren (Proudly 34)
You can follow Danielle Lauren on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org