Is it the fear of our ‘light’ that is getting in the way of leadership?

Marianne Williamson’s poem (best known as quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech) notes that we are most afraid of our ‘light’ even though in the world, people have a greater tendency to think that they are most afraid of defeat, or ruin, or harm. This poem has given a lot of people the challenge to consider accepting their ‘light’ and letting this shine out into the world, much as Nelson Mandela had the courage to do and Marianne Williamson herself is doing.

In my exploration of the relationship of fear to leadership in conversations with leaders, I have discovered that this fear of their light has a significant impact on their leadership.

1. I know I have more potential in me, but people aren’t ready for it

2. In my culture, if I go forward thinking of myself as a successful leader, there are people who will endeavor to cut me down to size

3. If I dare to shine, people will think I am arrogant and too full of myself, that I am driven by a too big ego

We explore what is being lost by this fear to shine. Some of the conclusions fit with these comments

1. When I am afraid to shine, the people I work with also fear their light, they become afraid to shine

2. When I am afraid to shine, I pull back on my leadership and I don’t know how much loss my company has from this

3. When I am afraid to shine, my company keeps doing the same things and we don’t keep up in the world the way we need to out of my fear of taking risks

4. When I am afraid to shine, I let things happen that I know in my heart I should not

In our conversations, we explore more deeply into what is lost to our lives and to our companies and organizations when we fail to let our light shine in leadership. We discover that the cost is high.

I invite you to engage in some conversations with friends and colleagues about what is lost when we succumb to the fear to let our light shine? I would love to hear from you about what you discover, especially what you discover about what is lost in leadership when you are afraid to let your light shine.

Birgitt Williams
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Birgitt Williams is an international management and organizational solutions consultant, author, meeting facilitator, teacher, keynote speaker and executive coach. Her business focus is to create inspiring work environments that are highly effective in achieving their purpose and fulfilling their vision.