Nelson Mandela said something about this in his inaugural speech as president of South Africa. Quoting Marianne Williamson, he said:
“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, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Whether we feel afraid to fail or afraid to succeed, these times of change are certainly creating an increasing range of issues that somebody needs to step up to address. And if you don’t, who will?
As Nelson Mandela also said:
“There is no passion to be found… in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Our playing small does not serve the world, it does not serve the people around us, and most of all it does not serve us. And in this time of change, when all ways forward will be difficult and unpredictable, the biggest risk comes from staying still and doing nothing.
Then you can find an issue that matters you which aligns with this purpose and values. Make clear sense of the situation, manage the risks, and inspire yourself and others to do what needs to be done, no matter how big or small. Then do it again.
And if you still feel afraid, a simple coaching tool is to ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen?” Create a plan to deal with that ‘worst thing’ and your downside is covered.
And if you still feel afraid even after that, then either reduce the scale of your ambitions — choose a smaller goal that also inspires you, and find a way to do that. Or remember that courage is not the absence of fear: courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
The choice is yours. Take whatever step feels right for you now.
Because when we allow ourselves to step into the place where we align ourselves with what we care most about, we bring the most value to the world, we experience the most flow and joy, we bring ourselves the most energy to succeed, and we also fully express the best version of ourselves in the world. That, surely, is what life is for?
As Nelson Mandela and Marianne Williamson also said:
“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Is fear holding you back? Are you settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living? What would happen if you took a step, just a step, in the direction that matters most to you?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)