Why Living Small Is a Really Stupid Idea

I sit in a musty old Amtrak train station in southern Washington. The sun is setting behind me, and the station is mostly empty, except for a few stragglers roaming about. I’m on a weeklong work adventure.

Sitting on a hard wooden bench, I'm reminiscing about how far I’ve come just in the past several years. It is crazy to think about how much I’ve grown in confidence, believing in myself, and liking me for me.

How to Live a Big and Fulfilling Life - The Stupidity of Living Small | Japheth Mast Blog

As I’ve come alive and faced my fears, valiantly battled against lies, confronted wrong beliefs, and painfully learned how to love myself – all part of the journey of coming alive – I’m noticing that I live life differently.

I take risks where I would have shrunk back previously, I’ve used my voice where I would have kept silent, I’ve stood up for myself when I would formerly have gone with what other people wanted for me.

These are all byproducts of going all in on the journey of discovering my true identity.

It’s mind-boggling that, as I get past all my crap, the journey becomes less and less about me.

Because I have a much better grasp on who I am, I know my worth, and I am comfortable in my own skin, I start to look beyond myself to see how I can help others who are going through the same things that I walked through.

Zig Ziglar says:

| “Moving from survival to stability, from stability to success, from success to significance.”

That’s exactly what I’m talking about!

Here’s the thing I’m getting at: our stories become other people’s stories. Our journeys to freedom become others’ journeys to freedom. Our struggles into triumphs pave the way for others to experience the same triumphs.

Your story can become another person's story.

It’s our duty and privilege to go help other people.

Stories are insanely powerful. You hear a story of defeat-to-victory, pain-to-purpose, hopelessness-to-hope, and you go, “If he can do it, I can too!”

It reminds me of the story of the 4 minute mile.

In the 1950’s, no one believed that a mile could be run in under 4 minutes. But one man did it in 1954, and since that run, over 1,400 athletes have done it.

That's the power of story. A story lifts you up beyond your current circumstances and empowers you for success.

However, we love to create bunches of brilliant excuses to keep ourselves from getting outside ourselves and helping others. (It’s called self-sabotage, and it is killing us.) Here are my excuses:

  • “I can’t help people, I’m too young.”
  • “If I speak up, I will look arrogant and cocky. I’d better just keep my mouth shut until I have done enough to prove that I know what I’m talking about.”
  • “I don’t have enough life experience to bring freedom to others.”
  • “Staying small is more humble.”

What a bunch of bullcrap, right?

No. More. Excuses!

Listen, the world needs you to own your story and learn how to shine.

| We don’t need you to be small and passive. We need action.

Staying small isn’t humility, because it’s still all about you.

Because when you shine, you give others permission to shine. When you are fully you and you own that, you give others permission to be fully themselves. When you live fully alive in the freedom you fought for, you give others permission to do the same.

We need you to shine!

When you don’t show up, the world misses out on the gift of your presence and talents. Repeat after me:

“When I don’t show up, the world misses out on the gift of my presence and talents.”

We wait for you to come fully alive. Consider yourself challenged.


Get a few sticky notes and write down some declarations about who you are. For example, I might write: "I am Japheth Mast, and I am a professional photographer." Stick them on your fridge, bathroom mirror, and in your car. Read them over and over again to yourself, out loud. Declarations have the power to change your inner reality.

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