Overcoming fear

Even when we know how to find the ten types of opportunity that exist in any situation, and how to choose the one that fits best with who we most want to become, there are still three main reasons why we can find ourselves stuck. The first is overthinking. The second is not knowing who we want to become. And the third is simply that we feel afraid.

In a time of massive change, when all ways forward are unpredictable and likely to be difficult, this is hardly surprising.

So how can we best respond?

One way would be to scale back our plans and aim lower. Another is to remember that courage is not the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. And a standard coaching response is to ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen?” Then create a plan to deal with that and decide if you still want to move forward.

But as Elon Musk says,

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

So if these three approaches are not enough for you then you might like to follow a more creative, more generative response.

That is to remember the words that Nelson Mandela spoke in his inaugural speech as the first Black 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?”

Our playing small does not serve the world, it does not serve the people around us, and it certainly does not serve us.

When William Shakespeare steps up to become all that he can be, we all benefit. When the Beatles and the Rolling Stones step up to become all that they can be, we all benefit. When Steve Jobs and Volodymyr Zelenskiy step up to become all that they can be, we all benefit. And when you and I step up to become all that we can be, everyone benefits again.

And 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.”

Passion gets us up in the morning and makes us feel alive. And as Steve Jobs said,

Follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

When we align ourselves with what we care most about, we give ourselves the energy and enthusiasm to succeed, we fully express the best version of ourselves in the world, we bring the most value to the world, and we create the world we most want to live in. That, surely, is what life is for.

And as Nelson Mandela and Marianne Williamson also said, what happens next is that:

“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

In this time of change, all ways forward are likely to be difficult and uncertain. That’s just the way it is. Are you settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living? Or are you learning to use this time of change to become clearer about what matters most to you and more able to achieve that? Are you using this time of change to become antifragile?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

You can sign up to daily posts here.

You can buy the book here and the workbook here.

(And remember: you can’t learn to swim just by reading about swimming, you also need to do the practice.)


Photo By Stephanie Carter via StockPholio.net

Leave a Reply