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Playing with The Big Kids


Guest articles > Playing with The Big Kids


by: William Frank Diedrich


In my coaching work I meet people who want to have more influence where they work. Recently, I coached a Human Resource professional who wanted to create more teamwork between departments. In order to do this she needed to have more influence with senior vice presidents in the company. Senior VP’s report to the President, and she reports to one of the VP’s. I told her she needed to become a senior VP. Since she will not be instantly promoted, she needs to promote herself.

By “promote” I don’t mean she has to sell herself to anyone. If she wants to influence senior VP’s and the president she needs to become one of them. She needs to see herself on their level. She needs to walk, talk, and act as if she is on that level. Her response was that she sees the president and her VP as above her. In her mind they are “better” than her.

Organizations have hierarchies, and we need to respect them. At the same time, we need not perceive ourselves as less than someone who has a higher rank. As long as we see ourselves as smaller, our influence will be limited. If you want to play with the big kids you have to start being one of them. This means telling yourself that you deserve to walk along side leaders in your organization or in your field and treat them like people, not icons.

Those who have risen to high levels of achievement deserve our respect and admiration, but not our worship. People with fame or position power are still just people. They put their pants on the same way you do. If you want to create more success for yourself, whether it be higher rank in your management hierarchy, excellent achievement in your field, or being a major influencer, you have to start being it now. You have to convince yourself that you are worthy to walk along side the movers and shakers of this world. You must treat yourself as a valued person. You must see yourself as already at that level.

The major barrier to becoming one of the big kids of the world is the payoff we get from playing it small. As long as we see ourselves as smaller than others we can be safe--safe from responsibility; safe from criticism; safe from having to make important decisions; and safe from the high expectations of others. When you are a big player more is expected of you. In public, you are always “on”. What you say gets more attention. As a worker, you could complain to your coworkers and it wouldn’t be considered a big deal. As a manager, if you complain, you’ll probably be quoted to others. As a person on the street you can complain about whatever you want. As a community leader or as a public personality you’ll find yourself quoted, or misquoted in the media. We are always responsible for our words and our actions, but when you’re a big kid, the impact is much greater.

As people, we stifle our own success because we fear it. We fear the potential negative attention, the new higher expectations others will have of us, and the potential of public rejection. Whenever you put yourself in a position of leadership you risk criticism, rejection, and condemnation. This is why so many people don’t speak up when it counts. We disagree with our manager, but we don’t express that to him. Instead we tell someone else. As a new big kid, you have to find your voice. Speak your truth with authority, confidence, and compassion.

I believe we are all here to become big kids. We are here to express our true nature, our gifts and talents, our desires, and our innate worthiness. Our first step is to know who we are, to be clear about ourselves. Who am I? What do I want? What do I believe? What do I value? Once I begin to understand these things about myself I can start being them. I can start trusting who I am. Who I am doesn’t need to change when I walk through the doors of my workplace. It need not change when I am standing near an admired person.

We add to who we are by increasing our knowledge. Passionately study your area of interest and become knowledgeable and articulate about it. This adds confidence to your voice and helps you to speak with authority. If you have knowledge and good instincts about your profession or area of study there is no need to be tentative. The only caution here is to remember that there is always something more to learn.

As you learn to value and appreciate yourself, as you find your voice, and as you gain confidence, you can extend it to others. Rising to higher levels of success and achievement is not about taking a trip on the ego express. It’s about recognizing that the value given you by others is based on the value you give to others. We are here to serve others. Our focus is on what will create the highest good for all concerned. This goes beyond being a mere celebrity. It’s about making a difference. It’s about people feeling blessed because they received something of value from us.

As a big kid you need to shift from a focus on your own needs to a focus on the needs of others. Others need respect and to feel important. Listen to them. They need sincere recognition for their efforts. Offer your praise for work well done. When you step outside of yourself and extend your good will to others you become more important to them. At the same time, you have to let go of the negative opinions of others. Learn from criticism, and turn within to your own sense of self, your own instincts and knowledge for guidance. You need not focus on impressing others. Learn to believe in yourself and the awesome power within you.

So what do you think? Are you ready to play with the big kids? Are you ready to express the greatness within you? Are you ready to move up to the next level or higher? Someday never arrives. Now is the acceptable moment to begin. There is greatness within you. When you rise to that higher level remember this: the truly great help others to recognize their own greatness.


William Frank Diedrich is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, coach, and the author of three books including Beyond Blaming: Unleashing Power and Passion in People and Organizations. Bill has just released his new leadership Cd-- The Leader's Edge: Three Keys to Exceptional Leadership. This inspirational and insightful presentation is perfect for listening to in your vehicle or at your desk. It is available in Cd and mp3 formats for $ 12 USD at


Contributor: William Frank Diedrich

Published here on: 18-May-08

Classification: Communication, Development


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