Photo by Raphael Schaller
Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love analyzes the obsession of the last few decades of star culture; "The reason so many of us are obsessed with becoming stars, is that we are not yet starring in our own lives. The cosmic spotlight is not pointed at you, it radiates from you." This concept is clarified by her well-known phrase, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." (p. 191)
A few weeks back I was watching the movie The Holiday. Kate Winslet and Eli Wallach are talking in a restaurant, and the Arthur character tells the Iris character, "In the movies we have leading ladies, and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady. But for some reason, you're behaving like the best friend." To which Iris replies, "You are so right. You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life for God's sake." For God's sake, and your sake, and mine.
By shining with our brightest light, we are better able to do the work we are here to do. And because we are all connected, these acts of courage, of showing up fully, also are supporting the healing of every person on the planet.
Work is highly fertile ground for practicing the concept that it is our sovereign right to shine our brightest light, to be the star of our own show, mainly because it is so ridiculously difficult to shine brightly within the structure of the typical business in a capitalist economy. Power hierarchies, leaders with raging egos that seem to hold our economic stability in their hands, organizational missions to take out the competition, pressure for loyalty without question, a low organizational tolerance for making mistakes, the cult of hero entrepreneurship--these are all factors in making it much more compelling as an employee to blend in than stand out. Staff that steal our time and undermine our decisions, night terrors over not being able to pay the bills, directives from boards and shareholders to drive revenue, fear of letting down or letting go our employees--as business owners these make taking the risk to move in the direction we are being called seem impossible. On top of that, depending on personal context, our bones and cells are holding millennia of instructions to stay small, fit in, be liked, stay quiet, support others so they can shine--all just in order to survive.
I have felt and consumed and burned with all of these limitations, allowing myself to be made small, to be silenced, to bring so much less than my best and brightest self to my work. But then I said yes to learning to be the lead in my life--as a moment by moment journey--and I am supported in that yes. To such an extent that I feel deep peace and joy when I am on the right path and, if I try to hide behind someone else's power, the sweet universe almost immediately picks up a big ol' stick and wacks me over the head. Ouch. Got it. Back on track.
But what does accepting the invitation to be the star of your own show, to really acknowledge we are powerful beyond measure, look like in a work environment? First of all, what it doesn't look like is brightness and bigness powered by ego, competition, fear of not having enough, not being enough. Loud and scheming, political and secretive. Being the star of your own show inherently means that you move towards being your best self while creating space for every other single person in this world to also be their own lead. In fact, one thing I'm realizing more and more is that shining brightly through my expression of love, stepping into my powerful being, invites others to explore and express their power.
It also doesn't mean that your role in the work environment can't support others--I'm in operations, which is all about supporting and creating structural support for the business and people associated with the organization. Hierarchies at work are very useful structures to get shit done, but the rot creeps in when these external, functional structures become internalized. Roles become associated with value, and this value is then assigned to individual human beings.
Spending my working life in operations allowed me to realize pretty quickly how incredibly valuable every single role is in an organization. And when each and every person is bringing their best self to that work, well, then the miracles happen. I've known, and you probably have too, individuals performing the most entry-level jobs bringing their bright, amazing selves to work each day, and literally changing the company for it. And I'm pretty sure you don't need think very hard to recall a person who comes to work each day feeling powerless and victimized, or being bullying and controlling, and that changes the company too.
Things are changing in some workplaces, opening to allow people to bring their whole selves to work. But it takes your active participation to fully realize this change. The shift to being the star of your own show, the sovereign power of your life, is a journey. And I've found one of the best, and least scary, ways to approach a journey of inner change is through experimentation. Experiment with speaking up when you would normally stay silent, with following your gut even though your logical mind is directing you to another choice, with being the observer when someone is trying to make you feel small, and forgiving them for their silliness instead of taking it in. This world wants you to be the star of your own show, and will continue to guide you in that direction if you are open to listening.
Scary? Can be. But the rewards of deciding to have the courage to step into your own light and power are beyond what you can even imagine right now. So much more joy and love and ease, so much less fear and suffering. Plus the deep knowing that you are taking step after step to fulfill your only real purpose in this life, which is to remember your fabulous true self, and allow the cosmic spotlight to brilliantly, powerfully, radiate from you.