I did something different yesterday – climbed up a 50m tower to help my husband Dave remove a time lapse camera that he had set up to capture progress on the construction of a 15 story building. Not gonna lie. I was nervous, way out of my comfort zone, and stopped to rest a few times. My arms ached. But talk about a higher perspective? Whoa, what a view!

It got me thinking. Imagine if we could head up high like that, any time we felt like it, and have a helicopter view of our lives – an opportunity to ask blue sky questions, to see clearly where we’re at, what’s really going on and where we’re headed. How cool would that be?

Blue Sky Questions

Next I wondered, what questions would I ask? Grabbing my iPad, I started to type, frustrated by confusion and lack of clarity. Negatively phrased questions about life and business challenges tumbled onto the screen. Then something interesting happened.

Reading through my notes, I remembered a piece of writing advice that I learned from Doreen Virtue. She explained that there is always a loving way to express anything, and the way you phrase things determines the vibration of what you put out into the world.

So I reworked my questions, changing “Why can’t I?” into “How can I?” What a difference. Possibility opened up. Searching for insight, I meditated, and was rewarded with a realization: as far back as I can remember, I have suffocated my self-expression.

It began with being desperate to hide my severe squint, in order to be normal. Fitting in was my Holy Grail; self-acceptance MIA. Naturally academic, I excelled at school, coming first in my matric year. Yet far from celebrating, I made a perverse decision to show up at 50% going forward – to fit in. Fast forward to today. I’ve spent decades undoing the damage of that decision. This week I head to Cape Town for our first school reunion in 34 years!

Our Deepest Fear

Marianne Williamson’s immortal words (often attributed to Nelson Mandela) come to mind:

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? Your playing small does not serve the world . . . as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

Remembering how it felt to stand so high up on that tower yesterday, it struck me how dramatically I have dimmed my own light, and how many of the hundreds of brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous people whom I have filmed and photographed over the years, have done the same to some degree. The labels we use are unphotogenic and camera shy, but actually we’re talking about suffocating our self-expression.

Courage Under Fire

It took courage to climb that tower – every rung of the skinny, steel ladder. It takes courage to shine, especially in front of a camera. But OMG what a view! I urge you to give yourself this gift and in turn to share the gifts that you are here to give.

Leave a comment below if you have suffocated your self-expression, in some subtle or significant way, and share how it would change the game for you and your business if you “gave yourself permission to let your light shine“. I’d love to know!


  • Rebecca Stafford

    Hi Naomi, Rebecca Stafford here from New Zealand AND B-School 🙂

    Nice and nicely written post – thank you. Several thoughts:

    1. I know this isn’t the point, but your “severe squint” is invisible.

    2. I think it’s unlikely your squint was the problem – more of a symptom rather than a cause, I mean. It’s more likely you didn’t get the unconditional love you needed from your parents/caregivers and the ‘squint’ was the focal point of your feelings of not being good enough. If you hadn’t had a squint it would have been something else. For me it was acne and hirsutism – excess body hair (!#*&! it’s hard to write that – still! I’m pleased to say the problem has reduced along with my stress levels). For my partner the focal point for his sense of inadequacy was wearing glasses and his height (he’s only a non-freakish 6 foot, but developed a stoop to not be taller than his friends – to literally not stand out). However the CAUSE of his sense of inadequacy was his abusive parents.
    But i love that you can talk about the impact of your alleged squint 🙂

    3. Yes. Our shining gives other permission to shine also, and that’s why we are doing it. But the reason it’s so hard for the many people like us, is that shining also attracts bullies. Our courage holds up an intensely uncomfortable mirror to thier own sense of inadequacy. They don’t generally appreciate that.

    Thanks again for your heart-felt post. I will be emailing out the first posts from my blog within the month (I have a bunch of blog posts, but my subscriber list is growing cold – soon to be rectified 🙂

    • Naomi

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you so much for your thought-provoking and courageous comment!

      I really appreciate it and apologise for only discovering it now (after logging in to write my weekly blog post). For some reason I didn’t receive a notification, so will look into that straight away.

      Perhaps I should have explained that my severe squint is corrected when I wear contact lenses, and that I have learnt to control it somewhat since being an adult, hence it is invisible in my photos 🙂 It’s so much a part of my life that I didn’t think to do that! I do agree with your points, especially that if it weren’t for my squint, I would have found something else to focus on.

      Sincere thanks again and I look forward to reading your blog posts!

      Warmest regards in the meantime,


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