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Categories: Inspiration

Permission to Shine

Let your light shine.


It is always a good time to let your light shine. Today I was thinking of a day a few years ago when the world, literally the world is abuzz with news of the death of Nelson Mandela. Much of the talk was about the bold stands he took. People talked about the world-changing events he helped usher into place. He helped end apartheid. Mandela showed the world that when an oppressed people become free, they can rule without vengeance. He gave hope on a big scale, a world reaching scale. At the same time, his life and his words are relevant to each of us in our own small worlds, our own small pieces of the universe.

One of the most famous quotes attributed to Mandela was actually first uttered by Marianne Williamson. Mandela is often associated with the following quote:

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. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. . .

Perhaps the quote is attributed to Mandela because he seemed to be strong, tall, and playing on a large scale. Mandela was a man of strength, character, and charisma. When one looked at him, no one saw a small man. He carried himself with pride and honor and that carriage forced us to stand straighter.



So often we play small, we don’t stand straight and claim our full space. This happens every time someone receives a compliment and instead of saying thank you and moving on, the recipient will say downplay the compliment, deny her worth. You have seen it:

Person 1: Wow Person 2, you did a great job on that presentation today. I learned a lot and I am glad I attended this session

Person 2: I did okay, there were many things I should have said but didn’t, I wish I had done better.


This is not a good conversation. Neither person feels good at the end. Person 1 feels like perhaps she missed something. She may wonder if her skill set is up to par since she thought an inadequate presentation was good. Person 2 feels bad because she just downplayed her good work.

What if instead of the conversation above, the conversation went like this:


Person 1: Wow Person 2, you did a great job on that presentation today. I learned a lot and I am glad I attended this session

Person 2: Thank you for your kind words. I feel blessed that the presentation went well and I am so happy that what I shared had good and relevant information for you.


Do you see the difference? At the end of this last conversation, both people feel good because they have shared a special moment and shared an event they can remember fondly in the future.



Indeed, there are many lessons to be learned from the life of Nelson Mandela. Perhaps one of the most important ones is that we should not be afraid to be successful. There is no reason not to grow, to let our light shine. We should be the light that we are blessed to have within us. As stated in the quote above, we must let our light shine. Our light will encourage others to let their own lights out from under barrels. When we shine, grown, and stand unashamed, we encourage others to do the same. This encouragement is contagious and if allowed to grow, can change the world. We may not all be Nobel Prize-winning statesmen like Nelson Mandela, but we can all shine.



So, the question for you this fantastic day is, what are you doing to let your light shine?


Janeane Davis

View Comments

  • Thank you for sharing this Jeanne! At times I don't handle compliments too well and I'm a continuous work in progress. I'm continuously working on myself.

  • Hi Jeanne!

    That is one thing that stood out in this post is we often play small. In the game of life, we need to play bigger. Thank you for the reminder!

  • This is one of my absolute favorite quotes and definitely words to live by.

  • That is one of my favorite quotes, I used it to talk to my girls in youth group about magnanimity ...to let our light shine because that is what God made us for.

  • That's one of my favorite quotes, and it reigns so true!

  • Miss J:
    I have been anxious about creating a post about Nelson Mandela because I hate to say that I just dont feel like I know enough about him. Its not like President Obama who has grown a legend before our eyes, Mandela has grown over time, however I feel like I would be better by creating a post about him! Thank you for giving me the inspiration to do so!

    • I remember when Mandela was released from prison and being happy he was free. I remember when he became president and thinking we would not see a black president in America in my lifetime, how wrong I was. I think Mandela, like a lot of historical figures who live past their famous accomplishments did great things that people reap the benefits of his actions without realizing from where the benefits came. I am looking forward to reading your take on mandela.

  • That is a beautiful quote. It was certainly sad to see such an amazing man die. He did so much good in his life. May he rest in peace and his legacy live on.

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Janeane Davis

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