This is question 10 from my book Your Biz Your Way. The full question is: Look how great they are! Why on earth would I even bother trying? And here’s my answer:
Modesty is a great (often peculiarly British) quality and I find it very attractive. But this is bonkersness on a grand scale. And I know you are an intelligent woman of tall order so this is not a brainy question so much as a feelings one. You are a hostage to your feelings at times, a lot of the times. Aren’t we all?
The answer is, as your brain already knows, because you are unique. There are 7.5 billion people in the world and you and I only want to work with the tiniest handful of those lovely people each, and your tiny handful and my tiny handful are not even the same. And why on earth you would bother trying is for those few people. Because of their unique and magnetic attraction to you. Because of the unique connection they will feel with you. Because of the unique work they will do with you and only you.
Stop any sense of being in competition with another living soul; it just doesn’t exist. And think instead of those lovely little few you are going to love working with, and they with you. Do it for them. Do it for you. I absolutely know you will love being of service and making a difference to that one.
Now, let’s go back to the head and the heart. In your head, this is a false modesty. In your weird confused-feeling heart, it isn’t.
All you have to do is talk yourself out of the bonkersness and give it a go. Those lovely peeps who are just waiting for you to offer yourself to them will prove your bonkers little heart wrong. And then this one too will be consigned to the mists of time. Rock on.
Ask yourself: “What evidence do I have that my bothering to try has made a difference in my world?” Ask aloud, by all means. Write it down too. When the answers come, I hope you’ll share them with me.
Remember this from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” A woman wrote to me this week. It was a longish message but it ended like this “So you know, I wanted to let you know you’re making a difference. And thank you xxx”. My work here is done (and she’s not even a client!).
Do you know The Starfish Story (apologies, it is an oldie which has done the rounds a thousand times but there’s a reason for that… it’s also a goodie!)
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)