Name: Liz Kraft
Job Title: Global Communications Consultant and Writer
Last week I received a very special request to write the very first English blog post for the Content Queens. What an honor! I chose a topic which is critical for freelancers, or any intellectuals for that matter — the ego, or what Sigmund Freud termed the Id.
The Stages of Modesty
A baby is born. It learns to talk, walk, run and ride a bike. And each of those achievements brings genuine individual pride.
Time passes and we find ourselves in an adult body (with hopefully an adult mind). This is where things begin to become complicated. At any given moment we either love attention, or want to be as far as possible from the limelight.
Author Marianne Williamson, once penned a quote which has often been (wrongly) attributed to Nelson Mandela:
“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.
The Right Mix of Arrogance
As individuals, we are always striving to achieve the perfect balance between arrogance, confidence and modesty. Frankly, this is a battle that I sometimes win, but often lose. On one hand we are taught „not to toot our own horn“. On the other we are taught to self-promote and walk with our heads high and our chest out.
In my world, this constant cha-cha between self-awareness and self-consciousness has played out over decades: From my work for major global corporations, doing work that I genuinely loved, creating strategies that helped organizations to grow, and writing text that evoked emotion and called people to action, to my time at various agencies and several years as a Marketing Communications consultant. Sounds great, right? But I feel extremely awkward stating it here. Why?
To take another perfect example from my own personal flops: I have a tendency to shy away from talking about my time as a travel and freelance writer, where I lived on three continents, and in five different countries. In a person-to-person conversation, you would likely have to pry it out of me. Fortunately, I’ve identified the underlying issue here… I want to avoid making people who haven’t traveled as much uncomfortable. I feel like my job is to build other people up. I want everyone who walks away from me to feel better about themselves, not worse.
Permission to Shine
If we revisit Williamson’s quote, it ends with a wise and beautiful insight (pardon the short religious reference):
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.”
Perhaps we really ought to stop downplaying our talents and shed the exaggerated humble nature, much like a snake sheds its old skin. In doing so we will shine, and encourage our colleagues, customers, families, and friends to let their light shine, too.