What if it’s not all about bigger?

not always bigger | kourtney thomas life coach

I’m a big believer in thinking bigger.

I’ve read Playing Big. I use it in my coaching sometimes. I frequently prod my coaching clients, “and what else?” because I know how much we tend to hold ourselves back. I definitely believe that setting our sights farther than what feels comfortable, setting the bar higher than we might easily allow has its place. Manifesting can be real.

Sometimes, I wonder, though:

What if it’s not all about bigger? Or what if we just allowed big to mean what we needed it to mean in our own lives?

I had a great meeting with a coach friend of mine recently, and we got to talking about business. We hadn’t really talked in a year, so we both had a lot of updates. Turns out, we’re both structuring and approaching things very differently, which really changes how we see both what we’re doing, and what we need to be doing. And herein comes the conversation about playing small and playing big.

We first chatted around the conversation that all coaches have – abundance vs. competition. How many clients do you really need? How many people can you realistically take on at any given time? There’s enough for everyone, and it’s not a thousand people. Or let’s just say that for the vast majority of people who aren’t large-scale, online teams, made up of mostly secondary coaches with very little, if any, access to the face coach, it’s not a thousand people. It’s, like, twenty. Our capacity for quality interaction is only so big. And to some, that would seem like playing small.

With that discussion around quantity, there’s a conversation around value, to be sure. So if you need X amount of clients, what does that need to look like? I’m quite sure we’d all love to be the service provider out there charging $10K per workshop or talk, $20K a year per client, but I don’t know…is that what we really want? We should all be well aware of our worth and be charging for it – I’m the biggest advocate for that! – but what’s the limit? Some would say the sky, which is true and wonderful on some level, but I guess I’m a little skeptical that the sky is for everyone.

Anyway, so we get down to it, and I’m like, OK, here’s what I’m really after. I want X amount of clients on average to give high-quality, high-touch coaching to every single person I work with. I want X amount of money a year (which happens to be well below the golden SIX FIGURES) because that affords me some freedom in business, and a bit more freedom personally. Beyond that? Meh. Would be gravy, but it’s not what I need. Maybe I’m playing too small, but that’s where I’m at. My friend replied, but Kourtney:

It doesn’t have to be big. It’s not about that. None of it has to be what anyone expects. It just has to be what you need it to be.

Touché, especially since that’s basically my entire coaching philosophy: the only right way is the way that works for you. It was a good reminder for me in a practical way, and around a challenging conversation.

The reality is that it can be difficult to figure out what your big really means. Our society right now is chock full of messages about MORE, MORE, MORE. More money, more wealth, more stuff. More enlightenment. More productivity. More community. More influence, more notoriety. Oh, and did I mention, more money? Big dreams and going gangbusters is a trend right now, and it’s a really easy one to roll along with.

I gotta pause for a second and assure you I’m not poo-pooing big dreams. I’m the biggest advocate of them, I promise. For all of us. I’m not trying to Debbie Downer everything.

My insight into this dialogue is to consider when and where and with how much we’re content. To do some reflection around what our enough looks like. What do we really need to have a life that we define as good? Not capitalist society, not Instagram, not your best friend living on a coast somewhere. What’s your definition of the good life? That is your playing big.

And it may be playing so seemingly small, compared to whatever external factors may be in your influence. That’s totally fine. I see it a lot – the person who looks like they’re barely scraping by, but they’re so damn happy out there doing the things they love to do, they’re content, they know what their good life looks like, and their small is actually really, really big. It happens to me all the time too. I’m sitting here all, I just want to make a decent, average living for myself as a self-employed coach, and everyone else is all, SIX FIGURES! TV APPEARANCES! TED TALKS! 10K FOLLOWERS! It feels weird and sticky and maybe like my enough is not enough? But the more I sit with the weird and sticky, the more I realize I’m OK.

My goals are my goals for a reason. My priorities are straight. My hourly rate is worked out. My service value is spot on. My schedule is where I want it to be. My life is full. And my life is not all about the chase.

And the thing here, too, is that it’s all for now. I re-evaluate all of that stuff on the regular, at least yearly. Life changes, and with it, so can definitions of enough, big, and small. It’s not like we have to accept one approach for ourselves for the next ten years. There will be times when more makes sense. A lot more, even.

The point is that, as with anything else, only you can answer the question of whether you’re playing too small. And it’s important to keep in mind that it’s entirely possible you’re not – for you. It’s about YOUR enough and YOUR more.

It’s a balance, to be sure, and pushing ourselves beyond what’s comfortable is still something I believe in doing on the regular. But maybe it’s not always this huge jump off a cliff to an edge that’s then perpetually near-impossible to hold on to. Maybe, sometimes, it’s more like dancing across the wet rocks of a babbling brook to find your footing at the other, slightly higher side for a while.

I’ll reiterate – I believe in playing bigger in a lot of ways. There is room for all of us to do that. There is room for all the power and the joy and the confidence and the more. And there is often room to push ourselves toward those things that scare us, there is room to increase our awareness of what’s possible.

But what feels possible and fulfilling to each of us at any given moment is different, and being aware of that is key too. So, allow playing big to mean whatever you need it to mean in your life right now.

We all know the smallest steps and strategies can lead to the biggest changes.


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