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How to Overcome the Fear That Success Is Selfish in Order to Better Serve Your Nonprofit and Your Community

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This post is part of a series on limiting beliefs. Read the first post on overcoming the fear that your story doesn’t matter

This blog series is designed to help nonprofit professionals like you make subtle mindset shifts that can make a big difference in your work, as well as increase your job satisfaction. 

By identifying and addressing limiting beliefs that you may face, you can train your brain to approach tasks with more confidence, creativity, and enthusiasm. I’m focusing on the stories we tell ourselves because we often frame our beliefs and our realities by these narratives. And by getting comfortable with our stories and sharing them, we can make a great deal of difference both personally and professionally. 

In order to do that, you need to challenge the limiting beliefs you’re telling yourself about who you are and the work you do. 

In today’s post, I want to talk about the limiting belief that success is selfish.

Looking at the idea that success is selfish

Many people were taught that success—and, similarly, taking up space—is selfish. If that’s the case for you, you may have held yourself back from opportunities that would have positively impacted your life in many ways. 

You might even ask yourself, “Who am I to make a difference? Who am I to deserve a great income? Who am I to be someone or do something great?” 

As you can guess, you can only make so much of a difference if you feel uncomfortable with the idea of making a difference in the first place. For example, you might hold back from sharing your story because you don’t want to appear self-centered. Often, you may decide to play small instead of reaching for bigger opportunities to do more good. 

Playing small

What does playing small mean? It means you shrink yourself to become a background player in your own life by convincing yourself that what you have to offer isn’t really that important. 

Many people also play small in an attempt to not “rock the boat” or because they don’t want to upset the status quo. However, the nonprofit community, like most industries, needs to be more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive in order to have a greater impact. This isn’t a time to play small! We need to rock the boat and challenge that status quo. 

In order to start putting yourself in the way of bigger and better opportunities and to stop playing small, you have to challenge this limiting belief by believing that your story has value. 

Stop taking your story for granted.

Please hear me when I say this: Your life matters. Your experiences matter. Your opinions matter. Your decisions matter. Your beliefs matter. 

No matter what you’ve been told in the past or what you’re telling yourself today, you are capable of making a real impact by sharing your story and your insights. Keeping your story to yourself is doing someone else—likely the people you’re trying to serve—as well as your nonprofit organization a disservice. 

When you start to doubt your story, remember that stories teach skills, generate passion, and help others feel understood. Sharing your story and insights isn’t self-centered because, ultimately, your story isn’t just about you. It’s about how your story, perspectives, and talents can help others. 

Whether in the workplace, online, or at a social gathering, it’s important to start getting comfortable taking up space. Don’t shy away from success, especially when you can achieve success through telling your story in a powerful and authentic way

By shifting your mindset from “talking about yourself” to “talking to and for your audience,” you’ll speak from a place of service, not selfishness. When you start to visualize your message as serving your clients or your audience, that limiting belief begins to lose its power. 

Taking the next step 

In order to further challenge this belief, think about one person who changed your life by telling their story and then think about how you view their success. How did their story impact your life? Do you really think of their success as selfish? What can you learn from them and what you took away from their honesty? 

With that in mind, decide what story you’ll tell and how you’ll start to speak up more often. 

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