top of page

My greatest fear

There’s this scene in the movie Coach Carter where Timo Cruz, one of the players on the basketball team, stands up and shares this quote:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone."

If you were to ask 10 random people on the street what their deepest fear is, I could bet you that a fear of being powerful beyond measure would not be one of them. The most common fears you would hear people list, I suspect, are ones that you've come across before – arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders; glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking; claustrophobia, or the fear of confined spaces; or even acrophobia, otherwise known as a fear of heights. One of my colleagues recently shared with me that she has thalassophobia, which is the fear of deep bodies of water. I said I had some stories for her.

These are all fears that relate to our experience with the living world. But are these truly our deepest fears, or are these simply the fears that are most consciously apparent?

It’s easy to know whether you have a fear of spiders. A spider appears, and you scream. There’s a tangible action (the spider appearing), followed by an instinctual reaction (your screaming). The same goes for public speaking. You go to speak in front of a group of people, and your body shouts at you to turn away. There’s a clear action and reaction.

A fear that has no tangible source is harder to conceptualise unless you’ve looked into your soul. I’d argue that those fears that sit buried within you are your deepest fears. These fears do not have a simple action and reaction chain. They require intentionality to bring them forward.

A man sitting on a platform

My greatest fear is that I fail to live up to the potential that I have. I can’t tell you where this comes from. I’ve always been competitive, and so perhaps this fear builds on a form of self-competition. David Goggins encapsulates this idea by saying that hell is meeting the person you could have been. David gets it. Or at least, gets that part of me. This fear creates in me a powerful drive. I know that my potential, limitless as it is and with infinite branches of possibility, will never be completely reached. It’s a fool’s game to an extent.

But, if I don’t reach the potential that I am capable of in the limited time that I have on this earth, I’ll know it. Nobody else will, but I will. That would be a great tragedy. The greatest of tragedies. Knowing this, I intend to live. To leave a mark on the world. To live as if I will die. Because as sure as the sun sets, this will come to pass.

I’ll end with this quote by Henry David Thoreau“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”

What is your deepest fear, and how does that shape who you are?


bottom of page