What keeps you playing small?
This is one of the core inquiries for exploration during Venus retrograde in Leo.
This essay is part of a continuing series on Venus retrograde in Leo. In this next part of the series, I’ll be exploring some of the core beliefs that keep us in hiding and out of the spotlight.
Core Belief About Qualification
One of the big things I’ve seen in myself and with clients who play small is a belief about qualification.
Specifically, the belief that we aren’t qualified to do the work we are called to do, or to serve in the way we desire to serve. It often arises for my clients when they are transitioning from one career to another.
When you’re a high-achiever who achieved success through traditional routes that rely on credentials and education, transitioning to a new field where your previous credentials are less valued can feel like starting from scratch.
When you’ve earned success in fields where status is conferred based on where you went to school and the degrees you’ve earned, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that you are not qualified enough to do what you want to do without more education and training.
When you were rewarded in the past for providing the “right” answers, you can get locked into a belief that there’s always a right answer or a “best” way.
If you made your mark by being a “good student” and a good worker, by being seen in the toil of your efforts, a world in which hours worked and effort invested is irrelevant to rewards received can feel unfair.
When you find yourself struggling even though you know how brilliant and capable you are, it’s easy to believe that you don’t have what it takes, that you aren’t good enough to succeed in what you want to do.
Beliefs Contradict the Evidence
You might believe this so deeply that the belief persists despite evidence to the contrary all around you.
Even though you see other people around you doing what you want to do despite having less education, fewer degrees, fewer certifications, and maybe even less experience than you have, you still hear that little voice telling you that what you have isn’t enough.
That you need more.
More training. More degrees. More certifications. More qualifications.
This might make you feel frustrated, annoyed, or angry. It doesn’t seem fair.
And that anger only seems to strengthen the voice telling you that you’re not qualified.
It can become a vicious cycle.
The Impact of Believing We Aren’t Qualified
What we believe directly impacts our behavior.
When we believe we aren’t qualified, here’s what can happen:
- We spend a lot of time surfing from one program to the next, looking for more education.
- We procrastinate on taking action and implementing what we know in order to first get “one more credential” or complete “one more course.”
- We don’t do outreach to our potential ideal clients or business partners because we believe we have nothing of value to offer.
- We don’t take initiative on putting our work out there.
- We ignore our own intuition. We don’t trust ourselves or what we know. We lack confidence in our skills and our impact.
In short: We play small. We stay hidden. And we don’t serve the people we most want to serve— the people who most need what we can offer.
We never even give ourselves a chance to prove to ourselves how good we are, how much we know, and the impact we can make.
We don’t turn all that we’ve learned into actual, tangible experience — experience that becomes the source of our confidence.
We don’t practice enough in the uncomfortable places to develop fluency and ease.
We sell ourselves short, undercharge, and over work to prove ourselves. We go above and beyond what is necessary to prove to ourselves that we are capable, even as we silently nurture those inner doubts.
When we do show up to serve, we might not be fully present because we are so worried about whether our clients will be able to tell that we “lack” knowledge and qualifications.
It can create a self-fulfilling version of imposter phenomenon that leads us to stay small.
What I’ve Learned
Through my years of experience in my own transitions and coaching other brilliant high-achievers through their career transitions, here’s what I’ve learned:
If you want people to see you in your brilliance, if you want to be recognized for your contribution to your community, if you want the rewards that come with sharing your gifts with the world, the first step is to see yourself.
You’re probably already good at seeing where you fall short — which is what’s keeping you small.
You must also be willing to see your own radiance and brilliance: all that you already have, all that you already are, and all that you already contribute.
None of this is meant to imply that there isn’t more to learn. There will always be more to learn. There is always a next level of mastery and a deeper layer of nuance to uncover. The risk of you getting complacent in your knowledge is low. You’ll likely always want to learn more.
But you can’t get to that next level of mastery unless you’re putting what you know today into practice. Mastery doesn’t come from the classroom. It comes from practice.
Repetition creates revelations and new insights. We learn best through action.
To take action, you must rewire your beliefs about what it means to be qualified.
What you know today is enough.
Who you are today is enough and already valuable.
The ways you are qualified to serve right now are enough and are needed by many people.
There is someone right now who needs what only you can offer and in the way only you can offer it.
The only qualification you need to add value is the the belief that who you are and what you know is enough to serve others.