Go big or go home

Have you ever learned a significant lesson from an apparently casual conversation?

This year I have had the immense privilege of working with a group of young people developing leadership skills. They are very talented folk and it’s been a joy to watch them developing their skills and growing in confidence through the year; and in recent months I have been humbled by how much I’ve learned with them and through them.

The specific, recent incident that springs to mind is when I was chatting to a few of them about a meeting I had coming up which had the potential to be difficult. I shared what the issue was and the possible outcomes I predicted. They asked great questions, helping me to clarify in my own mind what I wanted and what I feared. Then one of them summarised where we’d got to.

“So basically, Helen, what you need to say is, ‘Look, go big or go home.'”

In the event the meeting was far from difficult. But those words have stayed with me:

Go big or go home.

How much do I ‘go big’ with the different things that I’m involved with? Do I paddle around in the shallow water of the relationships, the causes, the work that I claim is important, rather than fully committing to what I’m doing?

What does it mean to ‘go big’ in the situations I find myself in? Well, I guess for me it means that when I take something on I do it fully, not allowing myself to be half-hearted. This allows me to be focussed. If I am running a training session, my mind should be fully engaged with the learning of the participants in the room, I should have been focussed on doing enough preparation for those learners to benefit fully. This in contrast to turning up having done enough to get by and allowing my mind to be distracted.

In my relationships, I guess ‘going big’ means being true to my commitments, honouring the other person or people by my investment of time, thought and energy. Prizing the relationship – whatever the nature of it – above my own individual needs and desires, doing what is necessary to enrich it.

In short, I think that going big means I can be bothered. I can be bothered to get ‘stuck in’, to commit fully to what I’m doing, to do something properly if I’m going to do it at all.

Now, I haven’t blogged here for some time, largely because my mind and energy has been focussed elsewhere. I’ve had a challenging few months and rather than blogging half-heartedly, posting bland musings which skate over what’s been happening, I decided not to do it at all. Because I couldn’t ‘go big’, I’ve ‘gone home’; at least until I had the resources to go big again and write what was on my heart and in my mind.

Please don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about getting it right all the time. It’s not about never being only partially successful. In fact it’s not about the results of what I’m engaged in at all.

It’s simply about doing what I do with my whole heart.

So how about you? What are you involved in? What do you think? What are the risks with this approach? 

Will you go big, or go home?


As a postscript, this notion puts me in mind of a piece that has struck home with me since I first came across it some years ago. I think it fits, so I’ll share it here.  

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.

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 does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

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.

—Marianne Williamson

From Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992.

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