Today is a special day for me. I get to talk about a quote that continually makes an impact on my life. I moved to California in 2001 and was fortunate enough to get a job pretty quickly – yes, I came out here without a job!! For some of you that may seem reckless. For those of us that are entrepreneurs – we thrive on what I call “cliff diving.” But that’s a topic for another podcast.
Back to my new job – My first job when I arrived in Los Angeles was as a personal assistant to an actress who at the time was on The Young & The Restless. She was an amazing woman, who very much had order in her home, which is where I worked from. In her home office, there was a quote that she had behind her desk in a simple little frame. I remember reading it for the first time – I can remember where I was standing, how still the air was – it was as if time stopped. I know, that may sound a bit dramatic, but this quote moved me.
At the bottom of the quote, the credit was given to Nelson Mandela. I came to find out shortly thereafter that Mr. Mandela actually never spoke the words in the quote.
The quote is from one of the first books endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, called A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. It spent 39 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list at the time of its original publication in 1992.
The quote from A Return to Love is this . . .
‘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. 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 doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. 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. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’
The first two sentences are what grabbed my attention. ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.’ Having moved out here by myself; my family gave me their blessing, of course, while at the same time telling me that I was always welcome to come back home. I felt I had something to prove – mostly to myself and when your soul hears those words, you’re not afraid of being inadequate, you’re afraid of being powerful beyond anything you can imagine. It was a jolt to my reality. I knew I couldn’t hide behind a desk as an assistant.
The next sentence – It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. I love how she takes what seems obvious – that we would think we are afraid of our shadow – and speaks truth. We’re taught from an early age to be afraid of the dark. When the truth is, darkness doesn’t really scare us. We were all born into sin – hello darkness! So, we’ve always been comfortable with the darkness. It’s the light – God’s love, Him within us – now that – THAT is scary. It’s scary because it requires us to work. It requires us to grow, to be accountable. We have to be open to love and to be loved; we have to be vulnerable. When we realize that the light within us has so much to give us, we begin to open the door and walls of fear start coming down.
It goes on to say, 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. Listen, I’m beyond grateful that was raised in the South, but if I were to have said to people growing up, I’m brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous – please. Child, where’s your humility? That’s what most would say. Don’t get me wrong – there were people like Ma Bell, of course my parents, a few select friends – but otherwise, I would have received the look – that look that actually comes from the other person’s lack of self-confidence. I can walk into a room now and see it immediately – those that are putting on and those that know. For the ones that are putting on, I’ve learned to go out of my way to love them and affirm them. Because I AM a child of God. And so are they. I don’t want them to be acting from a space of their darkness. I want them to know their light. And the only way I know how to do that is by showing love.
I love how this quote builds from one layer to the next. Marianne Williamson is a great speaker. I had the privilege of meeting her last year when she was running for public office. She’s quite soft spoken but has a powerful way of emphasizing her message as she speaks. She goes on to add . . . Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
I have a confession to make. When I was 3, I was diagnosed with a lazy eye, the medical term is amblyopia. To this day, I can still remember the smell of those offices. It was a terrifying experience for me. I really didn’t understand why I was there and what was “wrong” with me. I knew I needed glasses, but this doctor wasn’t the most kid friendly guy. I sucked it up though. They put those awful drops in my eyes which dilated my pupil and I can remember walking out of there not being able to see anything well because my eyes were still dilated. I just hated every second of it. So, I had to wear glasses from that point forward. They actually sent me home with a pair of glasses that had black electric tape over my right lens. Technically that was so I would be forced to use my weak left eye. Reality was, my dad walked me down the street after getting home and my best friend Suzanne couldn’t even speak to me. She looked at me like I was some sort of monster. It’s funny now, but devastating when you’re 3.
So, I have a vivid, first-hand experience with playing small and shrinking. I have many more not-so-nice stories about how people treated me – kids and adults – just because I wore glasses. Seems completely moronic now, mostly because I know now that those that called me names or treated me differently were dealing with exactly what this quote references. They too were playing small – so when they saw me, I was a reflection of the fact that they were not being the light in this world they were supposed to be. So, I found my place to shine, as the quote states, as children do. I honed my skill of independence.
And now for the finale, 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. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’
In doing my research on this, I found so many references to Marianne Williamson and the New Age movement. Which, of course, is a blinking “EXIT” sign for most people who carry the label of Christian. For me, I’m grateful to have been raised by some pretty awesome parents. My dad was a youth minister most of my young adult life. But the interesting thing was, he was never a denomination snob. We went to many churches. I never once thought that one place was better than another because he treated everyone like people – not their denomination nor whether they were Christian. I touch on this because if you haven’t read any of Marianne Williamson’s work, then you are missing out. As a Christian, I never once read anything of hers and felt as if I was being pulled away from God by her words. In fact, it was the opposite. I felt a closer, more intimate relationship through her interpretations.
So, when she says we were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us – my spirit wakes up and listens. It says, yes, you’re talking to me. And when my spirit is awakened, I’m shining my light, the way God intended. This entire quote is the essence of what I call your ExcellenceDNA™. I had no idea when I came across this quote 16 years ago that I was beginning to understand the ExcellenceDNA™ that only I have and that only I can share. As she says, we all have it and when we are liberated from our fear, we automatically give others permission to be shine and be free of fear as well.
It’s what Jesus came to this Earth to exemplify – love. When we are free of fear and shining our light that comes from God within us – we are love. This planet needs more Marianne Williamson’s. It needs you to know and seek your light within you and share it with the world.
Don’t be afraid to look at your fears, but more importantly spend time appreciating your light. Establish it so God’s glory can manifest upon all of us through your unique gifts – your ExcellenceDNA™ This podcast is very special to me because it is a piece of my heart. This quote encompasses me – who and what I am called to be. I hope you have found yourself somewhere in this today and that this has helped remind you of how special you are. I appreciate your time and I’m grateful that you’ve joined me today and until next time, Live Excellence.