Permission To ‘Play Bigger’

Change Life

Last Saturday morning, as I was waiting for Collin’s soccer team, the red Flash Dragons, to play their final game of the season, I was casually thumbing through my phone. Somehow I stumbled upon a trailer for a documentary that is coming out in December, called Game Changer.

I wasn’t but five seconds into the trailer before I had to press pause, open up a note and jot down the narrator’s opening. As the screen faded in from black and the dramatic music kicked in, ‘the voice’ said:

“I’ve always believed that the definition of hell is reaching the end of your life and coming face to face with the person that you might have been.”

Sit with that for a moment.

Coming face to face with the person you might have been. Might have been if …?

It gives me chills.

While I’ve never quite phrased it that way in my own head, I too, have had the same, powerful realization. 

In fact, almost exactly two years ago, I penned a six-page thank you letter to my friend and mentor. And in that letter, I wrote:

“I was listening to one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynotes the other day and the host asked him to talk about what drives him at the core. I tried to answer that question for myself and the first thing that came to mind is the fact that I am deathly afraid that I ͛won’t live up to my potential. That I will shortchange myself and in doing so, I won’t make the contribution that I was meant to make. I’ve been extremely blessed. I know this. I’ve been teed up for success, not failure. What excuse do I really have?”

It was a crossroads moment of sorts. And the answer was crystal clear to me.


No excuse.

They say there are two types of people in this world, those who make excuses and those who get results. Excuses are nothing more than stories we tell ourselves about why it’s okay to “play small.”

I was thinking about that as I sat down, a couple of days ago, with Tiesa Hollaway — Executive Director of Hill Country Community Ministries.

Tiesa is the epitome of a Game Changer.

A Doer.

I didn’t know Tiesa when I walked through the front door of their headquarters but I left feeling that in some way, the appointment had been made for us.

It was perhaps the best hour and a half that I spent this week.

Ironically enough, almost exactly two years ago, Tiesa had a similar crossroads moment. And it led her to HCCM where she’s led the organization to 34% growth in the number of families served.

Two thousand people per month are fed and nourished through HCCM’s programs. So far, in 2017, they’ve distributed over 400,000 pounds of food to those in need. All of this, with a staff of three full-time employees and 150 committed volunteers.

They’ve become one of just two local food pantries to partner with Starbucks, rescuing food from 28 locations in north Austin. And since Tiesa took over in October ’15, they’ve received $200,000 from the Central Texas Food Bank, to expand their operations.

She talked to me about the initiatives that they’ve started, like: Fresh Food Fridays, Hams for Hope and the Laces For Leander Program — that collected 600 pairs of brand new athletic shoes to distribute to children in need.

But perhaps the most ironic and inspiring thing that I learned, was that for 16 years prior to taking this post, Tiesa was in the … you guessed it … real estate industry. A career that she excelled at but one that left her with the hollow feeling that she was “meant to do more.”

Tiesa’s story is testament to the fact that the only person that we need permission from is ourselves.

Impact knows no bounds, no titles and no labels. It grants opportunity equally but only to those who have the courage to tell themselves the story that it’s okay to “play big.”

I feel blessed to be able to meet folks like Tiesa, who are doing such important work in our community. To have a platform, with the podcast, to share their stories and to help them amplify their messages.

As I work to surround myself with Tiesa and others like her, I find a certain comfort and peace in knowing that the man in the mirror, that I see each morning, is beginning to look more and more like the one that I know I was meant to become.

I look forward to sharing her story with you in the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye out, for she is truly a Voice of Impact.

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Ryan France

Ryan France is a native of Austin Texas, father of two, super-early riser, avid reader, admitted podcast junkie & bulletproof coffee addict. In a past life, France was an aspiring professional baseball player. Today, Ryan is an entrepreneur, author and relentless innovator of the real estate industry. Read more on the "Who is Ryan?" page.