Several years ago, I worked on a project with colleagues of mine. I brought an idea to the table. Together we developed it further and brought it forward as a solution to drive results. It worked. It was the right idea and together we made it come alive. As the results rolled in, I noticed my one colleague taking a lot of the credit. This colleague shared it as “their idea and process.” I think they actually started to believe that it was their idea. They eventually got some serious recognition and likely financial rewards. I was happy. This person is extremely talented. I was also proud our team. I never said anything at the time, I’m not sure I even allowed myself to acknowledge that it bothered me. It did bother me. I knew that it was my idea and our team’s execution that helped contribute to the success of the project. The idea without the strategy, development and execution is worth nothing. We couldn’t have done it without our entire group’s contribution and influence. It was the unique gifts that we each brought to the table that allowed the project to be successful.
At the time, I remember thinking “I’ll just keep my head down and work harder.” I did nothing and I said nothing. But by doing nothing, I allowed myself to become smaller. I also look back on that time and notice something about myself. I was comfortable staying small. I chose to stay small. I didn’t step into my leadership or influence as fully as I could.
In the moment, staying small sometimes feels like the right thing to do. “Why make a big deal about this? Why does it matter who gets the recognition? My work will speak for itself. Eventually I’ll get recognized as well. Eventually the financial payoff will come. This isn’t a big deal.” I have said those things to myself more times than I care to admit. In my 17 years in financial services, I found one benefit of staying small. You don’t rock any boats. You keep things comfortable for other people. As a result, you keep things comfortable for yourself. Sort of.
I know about comfort. Comfort feels comfortable. Duh. But comfort doesn’t allow for growth. My coach Ray Kelly used to always ask me “do you choose comfort or growth?” Choosing comfort and staying small doesn’t serve you because you aren’t growing. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t fully stepping into your potential of serving others. You were not designed to stay small, you were designed to grow.
“You were not designed to stay small, you were designed to grow.”Encourage Her Elena
It took me years to realize the negative aspects of staying small. I realize now that staying small actually delayed my leadership growth and potential. I stayed small to keep other people comfortable. As a result, I was uncomfortable with my own personal growth. It’s not about me and it’s not about you. It’s not about who gets the recognition. It’s not even about who gets the money. This isn’t about satisfying a spirit of entitlement. The bigger picture is that it’s about you and I serving people with our unique gifts. Gifts that no one else has. Gifts that were meant to be known, embraced and stewarded. Gifts that really serve people. When you stay small, you aren’t sharing your gifts and abilities to their fullest extent. You may not even be sharing them at all. When God gives you gifts and abilities, he doesn’t intend them to stay small, diminished or hidden. He intends them to serve and love people. Staying small, although comfortable, only prevents you from serving to your fullest extent.
In your leadership in business, in your leadership at home, in your leadership in the community, are you unintentionally or intentionally staying small? Sometimes this is because smallness is projected on us and we aren’t even aware that we’ve fully stepped into that identity. Sometimes it’s because no one has come right out and said, “I expect you to fully step into who you were created to be. Stop staying small for the benefit of others.” That’s on my heart today. Whatever the reasons there are for staying small, they are preventing you from serving someone else. Don’t stay small in your relationships, parenting, work life, spiritual life or in your community. Step into who you were designed to be. Like the Table and Tide quote I shared last week, “Someone somewhere is depending on you to do what you were called to do.” You were not designed to stay small. You were designed to grow.