Yesterday I wrote about the need to practice your passion and hone your skills.
Today I wanted to talk about the shadow side of this approach and highlight one more essential element for doing your good work, and being a force of positive change in the world.
The shadow of ‘honing your skill’ is that it can easily become an effort to ‘perfect your skill’.
The reality is that there is no perfect and, for some of us, the pursuit of perfection, can become a way to avoid taking the risk of stepping out into the world with our work and announcing ourselves.
So I wanted to be clear that the commitment to practice, to study, to develop expertise, knowledge and skill in our chosen field of work is not a process with a finite end. You could continue to hone your skills forever, and you probably will. But you don’t need to wait until you feel ready before you start doing your work.
As I wrote recently, you generally don’t get to feel ready before you start.
So while I believe in the passion + persistence + practice formula for doing your great work. Even that will probably not be enough.
Unless you are willing to put yourself and your work out in the world, even before you feel ready to, all the passion, persistence and practice in the world won’t result in the change you want to see in the world.
Lately I’ve been watching some talented, passionate women whose work isn’t getting the traction I think it could, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that these women are of very self-deprecating. Here in New Zealand – and to varying degrees in most other countries in which I’ve lived and traveled – modesty is an attribute which is particularly valued in women.
And I think that’s holding some women back.
Last week, after watching yet another talented, passionate – and yet perennially modest and even self-deprecating – woman artist struggle to get any traction for her work I posted this on Twitter:
If you are good at something & are motivated to do great work in the world, there’s nothing noble about denying or downplaying that.
I knew even as I wrote it that it would rub up against a strong cultural tendency in New Zealand to distrust anyone who ‘blows their own trumpet’, indeed, this was one of the responses I got:
If you are good at something, I believe that you don’t need to talk about it. It will be obvious.
It’s true that Gandhi probably didn’t hire a publicist, and nor did Van Gogh.
But they lived in a very different world to the one we live and work in today.
And I wish it were true that if we all just focused on writing the books we want to read, and being the change we want to see in the world then we would be seen for who we are, recognised for the gifts we have to give, and honoured for the change – and the art – that we want to bring into the world.
But what I’ve learned is that change comes when we connect with the people who are in a position to help us bring about that change – whether they are the many people who live in our community or the few who make the laws. And that means I need to find a way to get their attention.
I’ve also learned that if I want to share my skills and my passion with the world then I have to be willing to put myself and my work in front of people. I have to have the courage to be immodest, to challenge these cultural myths than modest women are more feminine, more lovable even, and that really talented people don’t need to talk about their work.
One of my role models in this is Tara Mohr.
Why? Because Tara has shown me there is a way to play big without getting caught in my own ego. She has shown me there is a way to put my own work out into the world while also supporting others. She’s shown me women can – and must – be leaders. That we can – and must – claim our talents and our expertise, own our passion, step up to our dreams and play big. And that we can do this with generosity rather than greed, and with humility rather than false modesty.
Are you ready to be a new kind of woman leader? Are you ready to play bigger?
Playing Big is a six-month, in-depth program Tara has created for women who want to play bigger in their work and in their lives. I took part in Tara’s first session of Playing Big, and I was very impressed with the combination of deep inner work (including Tara’s insightful and very effective techniques for overcoming the inner critic) and very practical training in skills like communication (including public speaking) and negotiation.
I’m so convinced that this program can help women step into their role as the changemakers our world needs today, that I’m giving a $200 discount on my new school for changemakers (coming in 2013) to anyone who signs up for Playing Big using this link: http://bit.ly/playbigger
If you are longing to play bigger in your work and your life, click here to learn more about Playing Big and see if it’s the right fit for you.
If you have questions about Playing Big or about the new changemaker school that I’ll be launching in 2013, please email me: marianne[at]marianne-elliott[dot]com
PS: I’ll be hosting a free teleclass with Anna Guest-Jelley on Tuesday (Weds in NZ): 5 Top Tips for Starting a Home Yoga Practice (Why Kindness is Key)
When: Tues, Oct. 9, 5.30pm PST, 8:30pm EST (time zone converter)
Sign Up: To sign up for the free teleclass, please click here: http://bit.ly/5TopTips
Spread the word:
- Want to start a home yoga practice? Join @zenpeacekeeper & @CurvyYoga for a FREE teleclass http://bit.ly/