I have come to appreciate early in life that nothing happens when you are sitting on the side-lines. I was in standard 5 (grade 7) at the time and my school principal was also the English teacher. He would bring all the grade 7 classes in the big hall and he always carried a stick and a few cards. He asked questions and with each correct answer, the learner would earn themselves a card. A learner that received 5 cards was allowed to go home while the rest remained behind where the stick was put to use.
He was a fearsome person who punished learners by forcing them to clean toilets with their bare hands. If learners were late, he would haul them to the assembly in full view of the entire school and force them to dip their hands in the cold water, in the middle of winter before he applied a few strong lashes.
When such a person asked questions, even if you knew the answer, it just evaporated into thin air.
It happened that on this third day in a row in the chilling winter that he called the grade 7 class again. On the previous two days, he dismissed the class after 17h00. I should have left early because I knew the answers to his questions, but my fear would not allow me to raise my hand.
When I arrived home, my parents gave me a stern talk that I will never arrive late again especially when I knew the answers. They made me believe in myself and they told me that nothing should stop me from standing up and giving the right answers.
They made me realise that I stood on the side-lines, watching other learners going home earlier while I was paralysed by fear. I decided that never again will I leave late at school because of fear. During the next class, I raised my hand high and answered bravely and with the first answer in the bag, I knew I was 4 cards away to go home and I never looked back.
Unfortunately, there are many sources of fear that have rendered many people stuck. People have succumbed to these fears and are standing on the side-lines watching as life passes by. Their heads are full of fears and a head full of fears does not have space for dreams and aspirations.
Better lives, good relationships, great businesses, and successful careers are within our reach but many of us cannot raise our hands to receive our cards to freedom because we rather live in the false comfort by declaring that:
- I am not alone, there are many of us yet to attain our dreams.
- I do not have time, there are many balls to juggle
- Money is not enough for me to get started; I will wait until I get a raise.
- I will start a new career when my kids are older.
- I will apply for a higher position in the next two years when I have gained enough experience.
- My business idea is taken, no one will like my product or service.
All of the above may sound convincing to you however when you peel the onion, you will realise that they provide nothing but psychological comfort. Unfortunately, the psychological comfort you experience does not change your life. Your life is still in the hands of your fearsome principal. Your fearsome school principal is your self-doubt, self-critic, the need for the approval by others, lack of confidence, poor self-esteem etc.
You should not wait any longer, it is about time that you participate in your rescue and shape your life for the better:
#1. Acknowledge your fears: You cannot defeat the enemy you do not know. Name your fears and face them head-on. What you try to suppress always lurks beneath the surface.
#2. Become dissatisfied with the status quo: What is the benefit of staying in a situation that does not benefit you?
#3. Appreciate your role in the self rescue mission: One of the founding fathers of scientific psychology, Albert Bandura, discovered that the best predictor of success is the individual’s belief that they will succeed. It starts with you.
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Tex Hlalele is a Life & Business Coach, Consultant, Speaker and Author of the book Face the person in the mirror. Book Tex for coaching and speaking engagements to help you and your team gain insights and possibilities for individual learning and organizational advancement. Get in touch by sending an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you found value in this article, please be so kind as to share with those close to you.