Overcoming fear

Even when we know how to find the ten types of opportunity that exist in any situation, there are still three main reasons why we might get 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 this time of change, all ways forward are unpredictable. All ways forward are likely to be difficult. And so it is not surprising if all ways forward might seem a little scary.

What can we do to change this?

One standard coaching response is to remember that courage is not the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Another is to scale back your plans, aim lower. And a third is to ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen?” If you create a plan to deal with that then your downside is covered.

If these approaches are enough for you then go with them.

But there is a more creative response. A more generative response. And that is to remember what Nelson Mandela said as he gave 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 us, it does not serve the people around us, and most of all it does not serve the world. When Steve Jobs steps up to be all he can be, we all benefit. When Elon Musk steps up to be all he can be, we all benefit. When you step up to be all that you can be, we all benefit.

And you benefit too, because 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.”

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

So consider your options and compare the upsides and downsides. Find the ‘Goldilocks Option’ that is “just right” for you now, and do it. Then repeat and expand. Because when everything is changing, the biggest danger of all comes from staying still.

And as Nelson Mandela and Marianne Williamson also said:

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

Right now, all ways forward are likely to be risky and difficult. Are you heading in a direction that excites and enthuses you and the people around you as much as you would like?


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

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Photo By Stephanie Carter via StockPholio.net

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