Playing Big vs. Playing True

In the world of coaching, we are often encouraged to “go bigger”, and “dream bigger.”

Sometimes, that’s what we need.

Back in 2019, when I participated in a Deep Dive lead by Rich Litvin, one of my biggest takeaways was that I could dream bigger, and it was OK to do so. I realized that I could do bigger too. That expanded my consciousness as to what was possible for me, and what I was capable of doing. That definitely changed my life and my coaching practice as well as business.

Yet, it is only recently that I discovered that “Playing Big” isn’t always what is best for us.

Sometimes, staying where we are is the best thing we can do.

Resisting the temptation to do “more”

Several months ago, I started to work out. I begun with two 15-minute sessions per week, for the course of several weeks (small steps strategy 101). They slowly evolved to 20-30 minute sessions, naturally (no being hard on myself, no “you should”, …). Indeed, I started to enjoy it ! Then, I added an extra third session a week, and just kept going.

I did not add any extra repetitions, nor difficulty to the exercises. I simply kept doing what I was already doing, making sure that I did not miss a single session and that I enjoyed it everytime (I learned this in my Yoga practice with the DeRose Method). If for a reason (a good one), I could not attend my Friday workout, I would catch up on Saturday (it only happened a couple of times).

I practiced consistency, and integrity with the commitment I made to myself (that is, 3 workouts per week – no exceptions).

I did not gain mass (which was not my goal as I am not really committed to that), but I did gain a reasonable amount of strength. and most importantly, I gained gradual but significant self-confidence, and self-love. I love myself more when I show up for myself with integrity.

I didn’t go “Big”, but I went True.

Sometimes, going True means going Different.

Sometimes, it means going Authentic, whatever that means for you.

Sometimes, it means going Simpler (see my articles on how to simplify your business and how to simplify your life.

Sometimes, it means going Smaller:

In the context of business, we often talk about Scaling:

“Yeah, I’m growing my business, first testing small, so then we can scale!”

As if scaling was the end goal of a business.

Rich Litvin talks about his experience of growing his coaching business so much, that he ended up hiring other coaches to work for him, before realizing that he was burned out, and that he wasn’t doing as much coaching as before – his favorite thing and his Zone of Genius !

He decided to scale back, and let go of some employees to reduce his team to a team of 3 people if I recall.

That is a great example of Going True vs. Going Big.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, going True does mean going Big!

The story of the Mexican Fisherman.

An American tourist was visiting a small town on the coast of Mexico.

He loved taking some time off there, waking up early and watching the fishermen go to the sea on their boats. The tourist stayed the whole morning on the beach, until the fishermen came back to unload their nets full of fresh fish, to sell on the market before noon.

One morning, he went up to a fisherman and said:

“Hey, I see you going fishing everyday, and I notice that you are done before noon.

What do you do in the afternoon?”

The fisherman replied:

“In the afternoon?

I like to have lunch with my whole family, then have coffee with friends.

I then like to take a nap, and then, to walk on the beach.

In the evening, we have a barbecue with my family and friends, we dance, we enjoy, and I go to bed early.”

The American said:

“That sounds great !

But what if you worked a bit more? With the surplus of money, you could hire people to help you fish.”

“And then what?”

“Well, that would help you earn you extra money, so you could invest in another fishing boat.”

“And then what?”

Well, that would help you get more fish, so you could get more money.

With that extra money, you could build up a whole fleet of fishing boats.”

The fisherman replied, curious:

“And then what?”

“Well, once you have a fleet of fishing boats, you could enlist in the New York Stock Exchange ! You could become rich !” Said the American excitedly and genuinely enthusiastic.

“And then  what?” asked the fisherman.

“Well then, you could retire !” replied the American.

“And then what?”

“Well, then you could spend all your time fishing if you feel like, having lunch and coffee with your family and friends, eating barbecues, dancing, and walking on the beach.”

The first time I read this story, in Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek, I thought:

“Well, that means there is simply no point in going bigger and building the whole fishing company in the first place.”

Only recently have I had a different perspective on this story:

The Mexican fisherman would not be the same man if he had built this company enlisted in the NYSE, and retiring, versus if he had stayed his whole life in his small fisherman community in Mexico.

There might be a call for him to embark on a Hero’s Journey (as Joseph Campbell describes it in The Hero with a Thousand Faces).

There is no right or wrong, there is simply what feels better for you in this moment.

Do you feel you are called to Go Big this year, or Go True?

Maybe both?

I love reading messages from your insights. Feel free to send me an email or a LinkedIn message sharing a topic for you and telling me whether you feel called to Go Big or Go True.



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