How to overcome fear and prosper in life and career

Everything you want is on the other side of fear. (Jack Canfield)

“Have you ever wondered why we do not get what we want in life?”   Grace said with a look on her face that I had never seen before in all the years of our friendship.  “Fear,” she said, very quickly, as if she was not expecting my response.

As I sat across the table from Grace at the lounge, in deep silence and thought, I wondered why sometimes, people allow fear to stop them from pursuing what they want in life.  I guess it is something that happens to all of us at some point in life.  Fear.  Of what? What will people say, or what if I fail, or, what if…  The list goes on and on.

“When I took up the job in a very remote place in central Africa, I had to overcome the fear of what people would say when they heard that I had left my two toddlers with a hired househelp and my young sister, who at the time was in high school,” Grace said.  “But what was I to do?  I had been jobless for several months, had no savings yet the bills were accumulating, and my toddlers, my sister, and I were about to starve to death.  I had to overcome my fear and take the job.”  People talked and talked, and demonized Grace for leaving her toddlers to take up a job in a faraway land.  Her fears came to pass.  But she was at peace with herself, because she had already made up her mind to overcome her fears—in the interest of safeguarding her future life and that of her two toddlers.

After working in central Africa and visiting her toddlers back home who at the time were one and two and a half years old, Grace managed to get a family posting within the same organization in Asia, where she now lives with her children.  It may sound simple, but according to Grace, it was one hell of a life experience and a very tough journey—before things got better.  What I gathered from Grace’s experience is that, sometimes in life we need to overcome fear, so that we can get the courage to take the right action that drives us out of a bad situation.  How?

  • Devise and implement your plan. The first thing to do is to look at your current situation—the threatening situation that you are currently facing.  It could be the loss of a job, marriage, assets, whatever it is—then visualize what you want your ideal situation to be like. With this new found information, devise a plan and implement it.  A plan is a list of things you need to do in order to achieve something.  Grace updated her CV, sent out applications for local and international jobs, made arrangements for people to take care of her toddlers, and took up a short term job (which later turned into a long term job with a family posting, so she was able to reunite with her children).
  • Seek and you will find. According to Grace, you cannot find what you do not look for.  She knew that she had high chances of securing a short term job, compared to a long term job.  With this knowledge, she focused on applying for short term jobs in remote places.  Where I come from, we have a proverb that says ‘In order for you to retrieve what is under the bed, you have to bend to get it out’.  This simply means that things do not come to you—you have to go for what you want.  Don’t just sit there, do something about getting out of the bad situation, now.
  • Invest in people.  People are your biggest resources.  This is because the people you know, know other people who know other people—and the cycle goes on and on.  When Grace took up the short term job, she related well with everyone, and when her contract came an end, she was considered for a higher position.  If you treat people with respect, they will want to be associated with you, which means that they will also be willing to help you in time of need.   Therefore, it is important to treat people the way you would like to be treated, for one simple reason: people will always forget what you tell them—but they will never forget how you make them feel.