“Be careful not to mistake insecurity and inadequacy for humility! Humility has nothing to do with the insecure and inadequate! Just like arrogance has nothing to do with greatness!” –C. Joy Bell
Fears of inadequacy haunt each of us. Sadly, we view our blunders and aborted attempts as evidence of our inadequacies. Instead, we should embrace failure with gratitude. Our mistakes are but opportunities to learn and grow.
As I have struggled from time to time in my life journey with feelings of inadequacy, I have learned to appreciate the difference between what Neal A. Maxwell described in his spiritual essay/book Notwithstanding My Weakness as “dissatisfaction with self and disdain for self. We need the first and must shun the second.” Here are seven of Neal Maxwell’s 14 suggestions for combating feelings of inadequacy:
1. We can contemplate how far we have already come in the climb along life’s journey; it is usually much farther than we acknowledge.
2. We can accept help as well as gladly give it. We can see honest feedback as helpful tutelage.
3. Before we assess our leadership efforts, we must take into consideration that often our deliberate best is less effectual because of someone else’s worst.
4. We can write down, and act upon, more of those accumulating resolutions for self-improvement that we so often leave, unrecovered, at the edge of sleep.
5. As Neal Maxwell puts it, “We can admit that if we were to die today, we would be genuinely and deeply missed. Perhaps parliaments would not praise us, but no human circle is so small that it does not touch another, and another.”
6. We can make quiet but more honest inventories of our strengths, since, in this connection, most of us are dishonest bookkeepers and need confirming “outside auditors.”
7. We can recommit to moving forward. Men finally climbed Mount Everest, not by standing at its base in consuming awe, but by shouldering their packs and by placing one foot in front of another. Feet are made to move forward—not backward!
When we adjust our mental framework around failure and inadequacy, we are putting ourselves on the pathway to significance. Nelson Mandela, in his inauguration speech, drew from these words of Marianne Williamson to encourage us to conquer our fears of inadequacy and insecurity: “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Here’s hoping you will share these seven suggestions from Neal Maxwell with others and that your presence in the world will be such that you liberate others from the shackles of inadequacy and insecurity.
”Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”—Marianne Williamson