WPO Guest Blog: Creating a Mindset of Courage To Step Into a Bigger Arena

By Marissa Levin

It takes great courage to think big. It’s much safer to stay where we are comfortable, because big thinking requires us to examine what’s holding us back.

It requires us to evaluate the decisions we’ve made in our lives that seemed right at the time, but perhaps ended up not serving our highest purpose.

One of my favorite books is Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” Primarily a business book, Goldsmith asks us to examine all of the elements that we employ at certain levels of business growth, and then assess whether they are still appropriate for our organization as we grow.

This applies to employees, customers, partners, vendors, processes, IT systems, financial systems, capitalization strategies, and everything else that shapes any business.

We can apply this philosophy to our personal lives too. Understanding that everything in life is impermanent and in a constant state of motion, we are creatures of evolution. For growth-minded individuals, it is natural that the people, events, and experiences that defined us and supported us in one phase of our life may not be the same as we personally evolve.

As we grow, our world will expand to include new communities and new opportunities.

Reflecting on the first half of 2016, I’ve embraced three new opportunities and communities for quantum growth:

  • In January, Inc. Magazine invited me to join their community of columnists. As a lifelong writer and entrepreneur, the opportunity to integrate these two passions with a publication like Inc. was like winning the lottery. However, I unknowingly stepped into one of the steepest learning curves I’ve ever encountered.Many times I felt inept and questioned whether I was in over my head. My editorial team never wavered in their belief of me as I grew into the role of a columnist. My mindset has gradually shifted from one of doubt to one of confidence. However, it took many soul-searching conversations with myself and with my inner tribe of support to keep going.


  •  In April, EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) Global asked me to join their Global Communications Committee (GCC) to help set the internal communications strategy for outreach to its 11,000 global members. We are responsible for creating consistent messaging across a range of diverse communities & cultures, that unifies, engages, connects, & excites all members. I momentarily questioned my ability to successfully achieve the objectives assigned to me, but once again I shifted my mindset to one of confidence and determination to succeed.


  • In May, Women’s Presidents Organization (WPO) contacted me to consider assuming the role of Chair for its Northern Virginia chapter. WPO is a global organization of several thousand women leaders who run companies that generate an average of $13 million in annual revenues. Their Zenith-level members gross more than $153 million annually.These women represent the very best of women’s leadership. The role of the Chair is to facilitate monthly meetings for groups of 15-20 local women leaders to help them develop their greatest leadership potential. Again, I heavily weighed the responsibility presented to me. I’m being entrusted with a global Brand, and the women I will facilitate bring serious business challenges to the group. All of the women in WPO are incredibly successful. To be a leader of leaders is the highest leadership calling.

In each of these examples, I had to be comfortable with the unknown, and with being the least knowledgeable and/or experienced in the community. I had to embrace being “new.” What almost held me back in each opportunity were the questions, “What happens if I fail?” “What if I am not enough?”

These questions can lead us down a dark path of imagining worst case scenarios that likely will not materialize. I consciously flipped the question to, “What happens if I succeed?”  With this thinking, my potential is limitless. One of the most transformational books of my life is “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.”

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