I recently opened a sleek brown fabric box full of papers that I thought held fragments of old creative writing, but as it turned out contained much of my graduate school work and hard evidence of an old self whose fragility I grieve. I quickly flipped through the papers and there it was – the great regret. In my memory I had gotten an A on the study, but no, it was an A+ – the grade circled to emphasize its weight and meaning. Sixteen years later the blue ink is as strong and clear as the day I received it. I wrote about the incident in my book, but I had no idea I still had the paper in my possession. Its tangibility gave me a little jolt reminding me of how fragile and fearful I once was.
You might be wondering about now why I would feel regret. How could anyone regret a perfect grade? It wasn’t just a perfect grade; it was a key to a kingdom that I elected to reject. My professor would extend an extraordinary offer – to co-author a full version of my pilot study. I was no one. It was my first graduate class and I was pregnant at the time of my class. I was hoping to simply survive the class. My goal was so humble and small and I over shot it by miles.
So what’s the problem? I didn’t accept my professor’s offer. Knowing that I would never have to face her again, I avoided her calls and deleted her e-mails. Why? Because I feared that I would be revealed as a fraud. I was sure that my intellectual efforts were merely a stroke of luck that had struck like lightening and could not be replicated in the same place. All of my husband’s prodding could not move me. I was filled with fear. My imagination wasn’t large enough to contain the possibility of a greater self.
And what does this have to do with my clients or my work 16 years later? Everything. Somewhere deep in the recesses of many of my clients’ imagination there exists the possibility of a greater self just waiting to be discovered and unleashed. I meet people nearly everyday who fear they will be exposed as fraudulent, who yearn for something bigger, and yet worry that they have no right to desire something greater. There are so many sleeping giants waiting to be roused from their slumber, and it’s my life’s work to awaken those giants.
I continue to grow into my greatest self slowly and deliberately, but I am no longer afraid. I am fearless. I no longer ask, “why me?” instead I ask, “why not?” I know that I will never regret expanding into possibility and I will always regret shrinking from it. Wake up all you giants, the world is waiting for you to rise.