I remember, back in the days when I lived up north, I’d wake up to 5 inches of snow—everything would be blanketed in white, electrified by the morning sun—and by lunchtime it would be gone, as if it were a mirage.
Could it be that all transformation is similar? That one day we’re one way—believing we’re capable of certain things and incapable of others—and the next day we’re changed? Transformed. Almost miraculously. I do think that transformation works like this. I’ve seen it too many times.
I’m thinking about one person in particular as I write this. When John* showed up in my classroom he believed that he couldn’t. Couldn’t speak in public. Couldn’t succeed. Couldn’t. His fear was so overwhelming that he was convinced that he simply couldn’t do these things. Yet as I got to know John, I could see that he was one of the most courageous people I have ever met. He had put himself in situations that scared him on purpose, forcing himself to learn and grow. He had left the familiarity of his small town in middle America to take a job in NYC, to figure things out and get to know himself. John is an extraordinarily brave person. His problem wasn’t his bravery. His problem wasn’t that he wasn’t capable, or bright, or talented. He is all these things. His problem was that he couldn’t see all that he is.
And sometimes that’s all it takes for transformation—to help people see themselves as they really are.
For some odd reason in our society, we’ve got this belief that telling people what they do well will give them “big heads.” But the truth is, there are more people out there suffering from not seeing their greatness than there are people from an inflated sense of themselves. Most of the time when people are boasting and showing off it has nothing to do with them thinking they’re “all that,“ most of the time it’s because inside they think so little of themselves that they need to prove to the world that they’re okay. If we could just let people know how okay they really are, then we’d all be better off.
Imagine what the people on your team could do, the people in your life could do, what you could do, if we could see our own greatness? What energy could be redirected toward positive things? What could be accomplished? What could be celebrated?
Consider, that the most important thing you could do is to help the people around you see how truly extraordinary they are and can be.
All John needed was for someone to hold up the mirror. To show him, without judgement or agenda, who he really is. For when he got it—maybe for the first time in his life—a transformation took place. He stepped into his most powerful self, and it was breathtaking. It’s been five years since I had a chance to work with John, and he continues to perform at a level he never thought possible for himself.
We can all do that for someone. For who amongst us doesn’t know someone who is greater than they know? What role can you play in transformation?
*Names have been changed to protect the courageous.