Nelson Mandela said something about this 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?”
In this time of change the only thing that is certain is that all ways forward will be difficult. So you might as well choose a way forward that inspires you and builds the world you want to create, and inspires other people as well.
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.”
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. When everything is changing, the biggest risk comes from staying still.
In this imperfect world you then have a choice. You can either choose to go in a different direction and live without the joy and excitement that your purpose and values bring.
Or you can find an issue (no matter how big or small) which aligns with your purpose and values, make clear sense of the situation, manage the risks, and inspire yourself and others to what needs to be done. 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?” Then create a plan to deal with that ‘worst thing’ and your downside is covered.
And if you still feel afraid you can either reduce the scale of your ambitions (choose a smaller goal that also inspires you) or remember that courage is not the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
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?
The choice is yours. Take whatever step feels right for you now.
And remember that 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.)