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May Your Choices Reflect Your Hopes, Not Your Fears

May 03, 2024

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”

                                                                                      – Nelson Mandela


I recently watched, for the third or fourth time, the movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and his amazing portrayal of Nelson Mandela. 


The movie chronicles Mandela’s journey after he had been released from a 27-year prison sentence and would then emerge to become president of South Africa, beginning the process of healing and uniting the country’s 43 million citizens in the post-Apartheid area. 


Mandela magically led this transformation through the use of continual forgiveness of those who had oppressed him, and his people and leveraging the pursuit of winning the World Cup tournament by South Africa’s National Rugby Team to unify his nation. 


What was most inspiring to me was Mandela’s unwavering dedication to lead through example, even when all of those around him encouraged him to take advantage of his position of power to punish his past oppressors.

 However, he refused to take this course, opting rather to lead from a place of inclusion and acceptance.  He did not allow the collective consciousness of fear, anger and revenge to overtake him, but rather he focused on his vision for hope, peace, equality and inclusion for South Africa.


It made me reflect on how often I allow fear and negative emotions to guide me in my life.  The feelings of anger, pain and revenge usually do not drive me.  However, my fear does show up in my aversion to loss, fear of looking foolish and the worry of making incorrect decisions or mistakes that the inevitably keep me from taking action. 


When this occurs, my choices reflect more of my fears and less about what I hope to create in my life.  My sense is, I am not the only one that is impacted by this way of thinking and this may impact you, as well.


I find it funny that we most often teach what we most need to learn.  During my keynote talks, I often share with audiences a study that was done by  Dr. Robert Leahy called the Worry Cure (he is a book by the same name). 


In this study, Leahy brought a group of subjects together and asked them to do just one thing – list all the things they were worried about occurring in their lives over the upcoming month in as great of detail as possible.  This included everything from health concerns to money problems to relationship issues to career concerns – everything they had even an ounce of concern about happening was noted. 

He then told them to leave and simply come back after the month had completed.  Interestingly, here is what Leahy and his team found when participants reported back …………………….


  • 85% of the things people cited as having worry about NEVER HAPPENED!!!! Now I know what some of you are thinking – 15% DID!!!!! But here is what they found ………


  • Of the 15% that did occur, subjects reported back that 79% of those occurrences were either a) not as bad as they thought they’d be OR b) participants actually appreciated those events occurring as they learned from them.


  • For math majors out there, this means that 97% of the things that were worried about either never happened OR were not as bad as they thought they’d be.


I have a question for you…….


How would you live your life if you knew those numbers to be true? 


What risks would you take, what conversations would you have, what challenges would you lean in to?


With this being said, I have three action steps we can take this week to possibly reframe our fears and worries and put us into position to take action on the things that although they may frighten us the most, have within them our greatest opportunity for growth and expansion.


Reflect – Take time to reflect about the times of your life when you were extremely worried about something, and as a result allowed your fears to guide you rather than your hopes. How did it turn out?  Was it really as bad as you anticipated (my guess is it probably wasn’t even close to the catastrophizing you put yourself through).

Did you feel regret for allowing your fears to control you?  Did you vow to yourself that it wouldn’t happen again if the opportunity to take a risk once again presented itself?  


Reframe – When the things you did feared actually occurred, were they as bad as you thought or did they actually turn out to be a blessing in your life? As you look back at those times now, can you recognize that they were totally necessary for helping you to become the person you are today and were actually gifts in your life?

I have shared in the past how painful it was for me to undergo the process of divorce and the fear I had of how it would negatively impact my life.  Although I would not want to relive that experience, I know now it was necessary for my own personal growth and that there were so many gifts that came from it, especially in the areas of my own personal growth and the positive impact it had on me appreciating other important relationships in  my life.


Risk – I have heard it said that hospice workers will often share that patients on their deathbeds are very often not regretful for the things they did in their lives, but rather express remorse for the things they DIDN’T do – the chances they didn’t take, the actions they did not embark upon and the risks they did not take.


What would you do if you knew you could not fail?  It does not need to be a massive action.  What is just one thing you can do today that makes you face your fear and be just a little uncomfortable?  Doing this on a regular basis builds our “muscle” in facing our fears and worries and makes us much more apt to take appropriate risks when they present themselves. 


Remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s having the fear and doing it anyway.


This week I challenge all of us to do just one thing that scares us.  Despite the worry or fear, take at least one positive action.  And in doing so, allow your hopes to reflect our choices (and actions), and not our fears.



Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching


PS:  If you are looking to have your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears in making positive change in your life, click the link below to set up a 30-minute discovery call to discuss my upcoming Breaking Through Coaching Program.


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