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Stop Being Afraid of Your Own Power

Sometimes the truth is scary, but here’s the most frightening truth of them all: your creative power is scarier than anything else on the planet.

What happens to your excuses when you embrace the possibilities of what you’re truly capable of achieving? What happens to your comfort zone when you own up to the responsibilities that come with being able to make a difference in the world? What happens to your luxury of being able to sit around and complain all day when the world is expecting you to get up, get out, and do something about it? What happens to your ability to stand on the sidelines as a mere spectator when you know deep down inside that you’re supposed to be on the playing field with all the other activists, artists, creators, and innovators?

Having power isn’t the fantasy it’s cracked up to be. Once you take ownership of how much potential you have, you can’t lie to yourself anymore. You can no longer settle for being a cog in somebody else’s wheel. You can no longer rest content with being a perpetually dissatisfied consumer of other people’s work.

In the movie Spider-Man, Peter Parker’s uncle Ben warned him, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Jesus advised his followers, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Did you know that more people are afraid of giving a public speech than they are of dying? That makes perfect sense to me. There are no responsibilities that come with being dead. It’s somebody else’s job to plan your funeral, perform the eulogy, and properly bury you. All you have to do is lie there and be dead. It’s impossible to get it wrong.

Our world is a world of the walking dead.

We live for being dead. We exist to do things that are impossible to get wrong. So we treat leadership as if it’s a special task to be performed by special people. These are the chosen ones. If the chosen ones get it wrong, we get to be outraged. And when we get outraged, we engage in the revolutionary and daring act of picking on the chosen ones until they get it right. This is the little game we play: always picking on the chosen ones, but never picking on ourselves to join the chosen ones.

The fundamental problem with our world today is that people are afraid of truth. But the truth they’re afraid of isn’t some truth “out-there.” It’s the truth “in-here.” People are afraid of the inside truth, the truth about themselves, the truth about their own being, the truth that they are just as capable of changing the world as any of the other so-called chosen ones.

People aren’t afraid of failure. People are afraid of ownership. They’re afraid of taking ownership of their choices. People don’t mind failure so much as long as they can put it off on someone else. People are actually much better at handling failure than we often think. It’s responsibility that scares us.That’s why we love to run back and forth asking everyone what to do. It’s not that we desperately want to get it right. It’s that we desperately want to avoid having the sole responsibility for getting it wrong. We want the security of knowing that others will share our burden if things don’t work out.

This is how we lose our power one bit at a time: we give it away in exchange for the security of not having to live up to great expectations.

This is how we get our power back: we learn to love being free more than we love being right. We learn to love the joy that comes with being a creator more than we love the comfort of not being the subject of criticism.

You can change the world. You really can. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. You can’t do it all by yourself, but you can live in such a way that others are inspired to join you. All you have to do is pick yourself. All you have to do is give yourself permission to be one of the chosen ones. And by “pick yourself” and “give yourself permission to be one of the chosen ones,” I don’t mean “say positive affirmations and put on a phony smile.” I mean “start thinking for yourself, start owning your decisions, start respecting your ability to learn from failure, start criticizing by creating, start accepting responsibility (not blame) for the condition of the world, and stop waiting on someone to anoint you as a great leader or a special person before you assert yourself.

Live freely. Stop being afraid of your own power and start making your presence felt.


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