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Fear of greatness and courageous goals

“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? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”Marianne Williamson Courageous GoalsThis is a quote from Marianne Williamson’s book Return to Love.¬† I’ve known the first two sentences of this quote for some time and thought that was the full extent of the quote. Only last week I discovered the rest of the passage when preparing to deliver a Courageous Goals keynote conference presentation with John next week.

Since publication I’ve presented to about 1,000 people on Challenging Coaching and the Courageous Goals chapter seems to have the greatest power. I’ve worked with many people using a timeline exercise¬† (see page 124 of Challenging Coaching) and have seen some amazing reactions; joy, excitement, tears of happiness and fear, and the flight “get me out of here” reaction.

Courageous goals have the ability to unlock the power within us, but also unleash our demons and the fears that hold us back. These fears stop us in our tracks even before we have started.  These can include fear of change, of the unknown, of criticism, of failure, of not being good enough, and fear of incompetence.

I remember that when I started studying for my psychology degree that my clinical psychology lecturer gave the class a health warning. He said that as he described the symptoms of depression, and schizophrenia, etc. that it is typical for students to recognise the symptoms in themselves and assume that they have that condition. Well nearly 30 years on after sitting in the clinical psychology lecture room, this is exactly what happened to me as I looked into the fears that prevent us achieving our goals. I recognised all the ‘symptoms’ of these fears in myself!

However the biggest fear for me is the fear of greatness. This is why I find Marianne Williamson’s passage so powerful. I read the whole paragraph with the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and butterflies in my stomach.

I’d encourage you to read Marianne Williamson’s passage above three times and reflect.

“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”

(Marianne Williamson is a spiritual teacher, author and lecturer. She has published ten books, including four New York Times #1 bestsellers. It was said that Nelson Mandela quoted these words. But Marianne Williamson stated “As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people.” Quoted from Wiki’s Marianne Williamson page)

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