The Journey Beyond Fear.

August 19, 2021

The Journey Beyond Fear.

May 29, 2023

We live in a world that is increasingly consumed by fear. There are many reasons for this, as I discuss in my new book, "The Journey Beyond Fear."

At one level, the fear is understandable. We live in a world of mounting performance pressure – intensifying global competition, accelerating change and extreme, disruptive events. All of this can generate fear.

While understandable, the fear is also limiting. We all have a need and opportunity to make the journey beyond fear by cultivating emotions that will motivate us to move forward to achieve more impact that is meaningful to us.

This isn’t something just for young people. Those of us who are entering midlife and later life have an opportunity to step back and reflect on whether we are spending our time on activities that really excite us. Many of us were told from a young age to forget about finding or pursuing our passion – we were strongly advised to pursue a career that is financially remunerative and has high status even if it doesn’t excite us.

One of the most encouraging developments of our current pandemic period is that so many people deep into their life and work are using the pandemic as a catalyst to question that advice and realize that their life would be much more fulfilling if they could find and pursue their passion.

Some of us have already found our passion and we’re pursuing it as a hobby. Many of us have not yet found our passion. As we begin to look for it, we might use these filters to assess whether we have what I call "the passion of the explorer."

First, do you have a long-term commitment to a specific arena? The arena could take many different forms – it could be anything from manufacturing or mining to gardening or woodwork.

Second, are you excited about achieving increasing impact in that domain over time? Are you continually driven to find ways to achieve more and more impact that is meaningful to you and to others?

Third, do you get excited when confronted with an unexpected challenge? Do you see it as an opportunity to learn faster and to achieve even more impact in your domain?

Fourth, are you driven to connect with others when confronted with these unexpected challenges so that you can come up with better approaches faster?

If we have not yet found this passion (and most of us have not), we should be encouraged to continue (or to begin) our search for it. Start by reflecting on the experiences you’ve had in your life that have given you the most excitement. They may be quite varied, but search for some common themes or elements that might give you insight into an underlying passion that is waiting to be drawn out.

Similarly, reflect on the people that you admire the most and that excite you when you think about the impact they have had? Again, are there any common elements that might unveil the passion that excites you?

As you might have guessed, I believe that excitement is the key to making the journey beyond fear and that finding our passion of the explorer will help us to draw out and amplify that excitement. It’s the fuel that will keep us going in the face of some of the most challenging obstacles and turn stress into excitement. It will help us to turn mounting performance pressure into exponentially expanding opportunity. If we’re consumed by fear, we won’t even see the opportunities, much less have the motivation to pursue them.

No matter where we are in our life’s journey, cultivating this passion and then finding ways to integrate it into our work will help us to achieve impact that is much more meaningful to us. Even if we are approaching or in retirement, it’s not too late to find our passion so that we can make the rest of our lives even more fulfilling.

John Hagel is a well-known strategist, futurist and trusted advisor. He has written 8 books and his most recent one, "The Journey Beyond Fear," goes into much greater detail on the opportunities outlined here.

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