Don’t Play Small

What is your deepest fear as a writer? Are we afraid to expose our writing to anxious readers? Does the fear of criticism hold us back?

Our necks are on the line every time we put our written words out in the world. As soon as we start writing, the self-doubt begins. Hunched over a keyboard the writer tells their story. Every word choice, syntax, comma, and dialogue produce heart palpitations. Eventually we reach completion. Yet, despite our diligence, the feeling of imperfection persists.

What is your deepest fear? This question was posed by Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course on Miracles. However, the quote is commonly associated with the movie, Coach Carter.

In the heart of an undefeated season, Coach Carter locks the gym when his players have failed to fulfill their academic contract. The players reluctantly comply, despite an outraged community. The confrontation persists until the school board votes to reopen the gym. The Coach resigns.

Throughout the season, Carter had challenged troubled player, Timo Cruz with the question “What is your deepest fear?” As the coach spoke to the team before leaving, Cruz answered the question.

“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 doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that our people won’t feel insecure around you. 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.”

Don’t play small. Write your best story and let the world know. I guarantee that not all readers will like it. Stand back, welcome constructive suggestions and improve. Ignore those who play small. They haven’t faced their greatest fear.

A link to Marianne Williamson’s full quote.

The movie clip from Coach Carter