What will it take for you to step into your greatness? Or let me rephrase the question… what is standing in your way from doing what you really want to do?

I started asking myself these same questions a few years ago and came up with two answers. These two answers took me over a year to really process and fully understand.

Answer one was: Fear. Not shocking. Fear is what holds most human beings back from going after their dreams.

The second answer and reason for not doing what I really wanted to do was that I was waiting for others to pave the road for me. I was also waiting for others to see my value and capabilities.

Looking at both these obstacles, it’s fairly easy to see that they are most likely intersected. I can also tell that they are both deeply rooted in wanting to be seen, but not in an EGO type of way. Without going too far into my childhood (I’ll save that for my book) these blocks are the result of the needs of my younger self, which only increased as I entered into the professional world and experienced the hard reality of racism, gender discrimination, the glass ceiling, and sexism.

I found myself trying to navigate a system where the rules seemed to change all the time. One strategy I took to “succeed” was to work, work, work and work even harder. Because I thought, “Well, if I work hard enough I will be rewarded for my effort.” I was certain that being a team player and giving my all would result in me being seen as an asset. Hard work would get me a seat at the table. My opinions and expertise would finally matter. I would be valued and respected.

In many instances, many leaders did take me under their wing, or at least that’s what my younger self named it. I had seen how great mentorship worked for others and I also wanted to be mentored. I wanted guidance, I wanted to be groomed for my next position, whatever that was going to be.

The problem with mentorship is, you are often left waiting for others to open the door for you instead of opening it yourself. You also wait for your mentor to decide what you are capable of, instead of deciding for yourself.

So, in waiting for others to pave the way for me, what I was REALLY doing was failing to listen to my inner voice and trust my own abilities. I was essentially giving my power away to others and letting them dictate my career trajectory.

Race and gender played a major role into this repeated cycle because I really didn’t fully believe I was enough. When I finally reached a certain level and salary, I found myself the unhappiest I have ever been. I realized that I was chasing something that wasn’t what I truly wanted. What I truly wanted was to serve students and help them become the kind of adults who wouldn’t even dream of letting their dreams go unrealized. But instead of going after my own dream, I got caught up “in the game”.

The moral of this story? Do not let fear hold you back from chasing after your dreams. And do not wait until someone else deems you “good enough” to achieve your greatness. Your greatness is inside of you RIGHT NOW. You are the sole owner of that greatness. While seeking some guidance from others who have the knowledge and skills you require to advance can benefit you, be sure you never give your power away to them.

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

~ Wilma Rudolph

Debra Y. Griffith

Dean of Student Equity and Success at West Valley Community College

Consultant | Speaker | Coach |Strategist |Trainer

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