Overcoming fear

Even when we have learned to find the ten types of opportunity in a situation, there can still be three main reasons why we might find ourselves getting stuck.

The first of these is overthinking. The second is not knowing who we want to become. And the third is simply that we feel afraid.

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.”

The appropriate response, surely, is know your purpose and values and to know that, in an imperfect world, this is what brings enthusiasm and inspiration to you, this is what has meaning for you.

Then find an issue that matters you that 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 the task might seem. 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 and your downside is covered.

And if you still feel afraid, either scale down 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.

Either way, 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. In this time of change, when all ways forward will be difficult and unpredictable, the biggest risk comes from staying still and doing nothing.

And 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?

And 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?


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 don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)


Photo By Stephanie Carter via StockPholio.net

Leave a Reply