Do You Play Small? Mandela Didn’t.

05/30/2012 No Comments by Anthony

In life we make many choices everyday. Some are big, and some are small. But choice by choice, we shape how “big” or “small” we play the game. I honestly can’t tell you how I found it, but the first time I read this quote it really struck me to the core:

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

On the surface, the quote in itself is great. But in my opinion it really doesn’t stand on it’s own (much like most art) without further context.

Let me explain.

Living in a box
Nelson Mandela lived most of his life in a box – an 8 foot by 10 foot jail cell to be exact. This is the place where he wrote this quote. He wasn’t in a cabin by a lake, cozied up to this typewriter; nor in a penthouse suite enjoying the finer things in life.

He was in a prison cell.

Despite the fact that he spent much of his life there (27 years), he still chose to play the game of life anything but small. From his little cell he literally changed the lives of millions in South Africa – you can read more about him here.

To me, a quote like this (much like most art) really comes to life and gains its power when you know more about the author or artist.

Busting the box
I would make the argument that we all can be stuck in “boxes” from time to time. Most don’t happen over night (some do), they creep up around us slowly and before we know it we’re penned in.

Our dreams went from “big” to “small”, or worse yet, we stopped dreaming.

It’s never too late to play big. In fact, one of my favorite authors (Jon Acuff) just wrote an entertaining manual about making his transition from day job to dream job in his book Quitter.

If you’ve made it this far into the post, you are probably asking yourself, “how do I get out of the box and tap back into my dreams?”

Glad you asked!

Box busting 101 (in five easy steps!)

  1. Acknowledge you’re in a box. Yep, I’m in a box – see, that was easy!
  2. Breathe! Boxes aren’t all bad, we need boxes to pay the rent.
  3. Map the journey. You are here. You want to be here. What’s in the middle?
  4. Back to step 3…dream bigger! You want to play big right?
  5. Work your plan and enjoy the ride!

Whether you’re goal of playing big is to start your own business, or become a stay at home parent, you will need to spend some time mapping out these steps in one form or another.

Brass tacks
Ok people, where I am going with this? I believe that we’re all wired for greatness – yes, I’m talking to you! Nelson Mandela changed the world from his jail cell, and I’m sure at the time he didn’t know the magnitude his words would have on the world, but he followed his passion and in return it followed him.

So make a plan, find your dream, and chase the heck out of it!

Even if you never catch it, you’re going to have truck-loads of fun along the way!

Don’t believe me? Just ask Jeb Corliss what it’s like to chase your passion…or better yet, just click the play button below:


Question of the day:
What is keeping you from mapping out your dream? Do you have any good techniques to help in this process?

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