Playing small – the act of not rising to your own potential. When I hear this term, it invokes an image of someone meek, afraid, weak. There is nothing positive about playing small, and yet so many entrepreneurs with great potential do this without realizing the catastrophic effects it can have on their business. Would you want to work with someone who lacked confidence, who constantly avoided opportunities for fear of failure, who talked negatively of others in the hopes of making themselves look better, who invested all of their time and energy into tasks with minor impact, without ever trying to raise the bar? No! And the truth is, no one else wants to work with those people either.

You’ve heard of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. I’m not a fan of this term. It implies hope with a dash of deceit. I believe we can adopt a more positive and action-oriented saying. I’d rather see entrepreneurs ‘make it and own it’, or ‘own it and grow it’, which force you to adopt an entirely different mindset. Maybe you can come up with an even better description! I’d love to hear your ideas.

As entrepreneurs, we have to start taking responsibility for our thoughts as well as our actions. Alot of the lessons around mindset and projecting confidence I learned in acting classes, and they fit well with a business mindset. Don’t fake confidence, own your confidence. Feel it, embrace it and project it. People are naturally drawn to a person who appears to love what they do, feels comfortable talking about it, is a good listener, has ideas and is solution-oriented. These are skills, and all skills take practice.

So, how can we abolish the ‘playing small’ attitude? By applying a system of ownership.

Write Down What Kind of Leader You Want to Project

Do you want to be confident, solution-oriented, dynamic, approachable, controlled, speculative? Make your list. Start with a few suggestions and grow from there.

Reflect on Skills You Already Possess

What do others say about you? If you are not sure, ask your business community what kind of leader they think you are. If there are positive surprises, don’t act shocked, embrace them. If there are some negatives, don’t despair. Everything is changeable – work on them!

Create Path to Gaining the Skills You Do Not Yet Possess

There is a solution for every problem. If there are some areas to work on where you need to stop playing small, be proactive. Look for opportunities to build on your skill set. Options include hiring a business coach, participating in workshops and sessions that address the areas you identified and reading books devoted to improvement in these areas.

Make Your Moves

Put yourself out there. Start saying aloud what you’ve written about yourself. Start singing your own virtues and the quality of your business relationships will grow along with you. But first, you have to believe in and envision the possibilities of writing your own story.


You have to own who you are. Please don’t settle for any less than that.

Last year, I attended a fantastic workshop called Own The Room, hosted by Eleanor Beaton, women’s leadership development coach. I have four pages of notes from that workshop, all about my business, value proposition, leadership skills and reflections. I keep them neatly folded in my journal and reflect on them often. If you have an opportunity to participate in any of Eleanor’s programs or listen to her podcast, I highly recommend adding Eleanor’s work to your business toolbox!

Eleanor Beaton, Women’s Leadership Development Coach

Please share your own confidence-boosting tips and any insight you have on abandoning playing small and instead, playing the role you deserve.