Growing up, I've always been a bit of a movie buff. That was my hobby, I loved movies. All types, really. And this love of movies followed me into adulthood. Granted, with a pair of 3-year-olds running around the house, the opportunities to watch movies are fewer than they used to be. It's more common to see Trolls or Moana on the TV these days. I think one of the reasons I love movies so much is because they tell great stories. A great story sticks with you. The characters become real. You can start to imagine yourself trading places with them, what you would do in the situations they are experiencing.
About 10 years ago, a movie came out called Coach Carter, with Samuel L. Jackson. Ken Carter gets hired as the head basketball coach in a poor urban community in California. Having been a player himself back in school, he knows the game of basketball. But his biggest challenge is with the attitude, disrespect, and poor behavior of the student athletes. One student in particular, Timo Cruz, pushes back hardest against Carter's regime. When he is kicked off the team for continued bad behavior, he sinks deeper into gang behavior in his neighborhood. After surviving a shooting that takes the life of his cousin, Cruz comes back to Carter, begging to be back on the team.
The most impactful part of this movie for me is the concept that everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, has the ability to do incredible things. The students that played for Coach Carter's team were very poor, they were horribly behind academically, and there was absolutely no expectation of them to do anything productive with their lives.
Carter didn't see it that way, though. He understood that every one of his players had the power to create their own destinies. Through hard work and accountability, by the end of their season every student on the team were doing well in their classes and were being accepted into college; they had pushed aside their behavior problems, and they finished at the top of their basketball league. Near the end of the movie, Cruz stands up in a team meeting and shares a poem by Marianne Williamson:
"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.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
I absolutely love what this poem describes: absolute and unabashed freedom to be our best selves. This poem holds some important takeaways for me.
We are powerful beyond measure.
It may sound like a cliche, but I don't believe it is. Each and every one of us is capable of doing extraordinary things. And those extraordinary things start with a single step. I heard Tyler Perry speak the other week at Live2Lead, and he made a statement that absolutely floored me. He said, "Don't despise small beginnings. Acorns turn into trees." A single step gives way to another. And another. And then another. All taken deliberately with a goal in mind.
Playing it small does not serve the world. I love this line. Sometimes we play it safe. Whether it's because we don't want attention, or because we doubt our potential, we don't let ourselves aim too high. We still see some success and victories, but they're just a glimmer of what we're really capable of. Aim high. If you don't succeed, you'll probably still be in a better position than you are now. And if you succeed, you'll get to enjoy a level of success you wouldn't have let yourself dream of.
Success breeds success in others.
When we surround ourselves with successful people, we feel more empowered, don't we? I know I do. It's like there is an energy field pumping good juju into the room. Everyone steps up their game a little bit. Our ideas are a little better, our execution is a little more on-point, we start to think things possible that we wouldn't have thought possible before. Well, guess what, you can be one of those people who brings the good juju when you walk in the room. Your light will liberate others to shine, too.
Own your power. Embrace it. Make it work for you. Challenge yourself everyday to take full advantage of your potential. And bring other good people along with you on your journey.
Originally posted on Working Title HR.