Posted on 11/12/2013 · Posted in Change, Leadership

Twice in the past week, I have been reminded of a poem that first appeared in A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.  It has often been attributed to the late Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech as president of the Republic of South Africa.  Although this was just another internet myth, many agree that these words are very appropriate when thinking about this great leader.

I was also reminded of the poem whilst having lunch with a consultant friend of mine.  We both admitted to holding back and being wary of saying what we really think, particularly when in the presence of very senior professionals in large organisations.  This poem sums up the feeling very well:

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 does not serve the world.
There is 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 are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

If you find yourself playing small, just reflect on the words above and hopefully together we can make the world a better place.