“ As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” ― Nelson Mandela
We occasionally sing a little song in church that has the line, “This little light of mine; I’, going to let it shine.” That little ditty comes from the gospel song titled This Little Light of Mine and is a favorite for children’s choirs.
The essence of the message in that little song is that the singer is going to let his/her faith shine through in the things that they do. I like Mandela’s take on that because it is true that by our actions and deeds we unconsciously empower others to act the same way – to let their own lights shine through.
Have you ever been in a group where one person breaks the ice by speaking to others or sharing a story? Did you notice that after that person got things started everyone eventually joined in? It’s human nature. Most of us don’t like to be the first to speak or to say hello to others; we prefer to hold back and wait for someone else to initiate things. Sometimes I’m that way, especially if I walk into a social situation with a whole bunch of people that I don’t know.
I’m a Chamber Ambassador in our local Chamber of Commerce and one of my duties as an
Ambassador is to make sure that visitors to our various social and networking functions, like our Coffee Club, don’t end up standing in the corner of the room like a deer in the headlights. That can happen very easily, since most of the people who regularly go to our events know each other and tend to clump together in ad hoc little cliques during the events (that’s human nature, too). So my job is to take the visitor by the hand and introduce them around to the others in the room. A side benefit for me is that it forces me to overcome my own natural reticence in those same situations.
The little saying doesn’t necessarily have to have an overtly religious meaning. At it’s core is the thought to let your personality shine through; to let what you have to contribute to the situation – your knowledge, your opinions and your thoughts – come out and be heard. All too often I find that people hold back because they think that they have nothing to contribute. That is especially true if the conversation or situation is being dominated by an opinionated blowhard who believes that he or she is the smartest person in the room. However, there is one thing which that person absolutely does not know and that is what your opinion is on the topic at hand. Whatever that opinion is, it comes from a different point of view than any other that has already been expressed. Let your light (and opinion) shine at that moment and you may be the catalyst that sparks a good conversation in the group, rather than having to put up with a domineering bore.
Religious connotations aside, another meaning for this little ditty focuses upon doing good, helping others and doing what is right. The impact of one person taking the initiative to start something good, do something good or say something good can be amazing. We hear all the time about some post on You Tube “going viral”, meaning that is has suddenly attracted thousand or even millions of views. Someone initially posted that video to let it’s light shine. We also have seen the commercial on TV about saving for retirement where a very small domino is tipped over into a slightly larger domino which then tips over onto a bigger one, and so on, and so on; until at the end this huge domino falls. That first domino was a little light being allowed to shine. To see a video about that domino effect, click here.
So, do you let your light shine or do you hold back and wait for others to go first? Mandel’s message was, that by letting your light shine through acts or deeds or words, you give permission to others to let their lights out to shine, too. Soon you have a room full of shining lights. Here is a great example of a flash mob that was started by a single singer and takes on a life of its own as more and more people let their lights shine – the Do-Re-Mi video. Don’t you think that every traveler in that train station had a better day because of being a part of that? I do.
Have a great day and let your light shine – someone needs a jump start from you today.