Have you ever gotten up to speak in public and had a plan for what you’d say—then totally gone off script? That happened to me once in a notable way. I was part of a lunch-time panel hosted by a local chamber of commerce. The panel theme was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I was seated amongst outstanding women leaders who were inspiring in their careers and in the lives they lead outside the working day. Not only that, the panel was hosted by my favorite local radio-personality, Miss Monica Brooks, the co-host of the K92 Mornin’ Thang. I’m a big fan of hers so I had to balance focusing on the panel with my low-key fangirl moment happening!
One of the questions we were asked was related to how we have managed to overcome obstacles in our career. It was this question that caused me to share a mantra I didn’t realize has become so meaningful, “Life’s too short not to sparkle.”
Truly, when those words came out of my mouth on the panel I surprised myself. This advice is something I started saying to my daughter in a half-jest sort of way. When we’d be out shopping for clothes, shoes, or school supplies she was inevitably drawn to glitter and shine (that’s my girl!). When she’d ask if she could pick a particular item, adorned with bling, I started saying, “Yes, ma’am! Go for the glitter, life’s too short not to sparkle.” That advice and mantra worked really well between me and my little girl but I never intended to share it with a room full of accomplished business women.
These have become words I repeat to other women when the opportunity arises, even as recently as a keynote address at my alma mater, Radford University. While it may sound lighthearted the implications are quite meaningful and directly tied to living an empowered life of self ownership.
When I am at my very best–when you are at your very best–maximizing on the ways we have been uniquely gifted, we will shine. Each of us should choose to unashamedly pursue who we have been made to be—and know we will shine (or sparkle) in the process. It is when we are open to embracing our best qualities and pursuing our passions that we really come alive.
Like all of life, there is a shadow-side to shining. Some people will resent you for it. While this is a sad reality it is one I’m committed to fighting each and every day. You shining bright does not diminish from the shine of others. In fact, when we can all be comfortable shining together the light gets brighter and brighter. So shine on! Ignore those that question your success and accomplishments. It is up to you to own who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done and where you are going next. Ignore the haters, curmudgeons, grinches (that’s my favorite Christmas movie, by the way) and be the wonderful YOU that you were made to be. Step into your joy and truth.
One of the most meaningful quotes I’ve ever read, that I regularly read outloud to groups of women at speaking events, is from Marianne Washington.
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 won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.Marianne Washington
- I need you to liberate yourself of the fear of shining.
- Your family needs you to be liberated from your fear of shining.
- Your community needs you to be liberated from your fear of shining.
- The world needs you to be liberated from your fear of shining.
- Most importantly, YOU need to be liberated from your fear of shining.
There is brilliance in you and there is brilliance in me. And after all, life’s too short not to sparkle.