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Published April 6, 2020

Fear is a funny thing. It can hold you back OR it can propel you forward. I had allowed fear to hold me back for a long time, until an encounter in Walmart made me realize that I could overcome fear and stop letting it run my life…

It was a crisp night in December, and my wife, Amanda, and I had set out north along the California coast toward our favorite vacation spot. I was looking forward not only to spending time with her but also to reflecting on myself, my fears, and my limiting beliefs.

Because at that time, everything in my life was just south of okay. My marriage, my finances, my business, my role and behavior as a husband/father, my life… it was all just a notch below okay.

I had figured some things out in my business and my individual client base was at an all-time high, but I didn’t know how to expand the organization to bring in more business partners.

It was too scary for me to even contemplate.

In short, I was ready for a breakthrough, and I hoped this trip would deliver.

We traveled for hours and eventually decided to pick up food and water for our hotel room.

Facing Fear at Walmart

Blinker on, we made a quick right exit and there it was: a Walmart. And not just any Walmart—a Super Walmart. We parked and headed inside. “Amanda, grab some cheese, yogurt, egg whites, and red wine…I’ll get the toiletries!” I called and beelined toward the appropriate aisles.

That’s when it happened. About twenty feet in front of me was a woman, maybe in her mid-sixties. She was accompanied by two boys who couldn’t have been older than eleven or twelve, whom I assumed must have been her grandchildren, though I could have been wrong.

She sat heavily in one of those motorized scooters and through the gray hair hanging over her face, I could see she was out of breath.

Every once in a while, she needed the assistance of the two boys to get in and out of her scooter, and when I saw how much weight she was carrying and how mightily she was gasping for air, my heart broke for her. When I saw the grace, love, and humility the boys showed in helping her, my heart broke again, and I remembered with renewed clarity exactly who I wanted to be.

My profession, my business, and my purpose was to help others. That was it. It wasn’t about me or my ego or my fears or my questions or my hang-ups. It was about helping other people live healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives.

And it was nothing I hadn’t done before. I had already coached over one hundred clients through their own weight-loss journeys.

So, when I saw this woman, I knew I could help her. I held the key that would unlock so much suffering inside her and set her free from so many of her pains and troubles.

I wanted to approach her, even if just to say, “Hi.”

But I didn’t. I was afraid.

Head hung low, I followed Amanda to the car and plopped into the passenger seat beside her, completely lost in thought. Amanda gently asked in a way only she could, “What’s wrong?”

I told her everything that had just taken place, including my suspicion that God had literally placed that woman in my path for me to help.

“Well, if that’s the way you feel,” Amanda exclaimed, “then go back in there and talk to her! You’re amazing! You’ve got this.”

With my spirit renewed and a newfound connection with my mission, I ran back inside the Walmart.

Aisle after aisle, and no sight of the woman. I waited outside of the women’s restroom in vain. I took a third lap around the Walmart with no sign of her… and realized that I had probably missed my chance.

Time to Overcome Fear

I blinked as the realization fully sank in, bruising my confidence and battering my ego on the way down. I walked back to the car, feeling more disappointed than I had in years, and sank back into my seat beside Amanda, eyes unfocused, heart racing.

I knew she was talking to me, but I couldn’t really hear what she was saying. All I could hear was a gigantic rushing sound in my ears, signaling the tsunami of emotion that was rising, impossible to stop. I began to weep then, harder than I had ever wept in my life.

I think Amanda thought I was crying because I couldn’t find the woman, but in all actuality, that was only a small part of it. At the heart of it, I was breaking down because I was tired of letting fear run my life.

I was torn and exhausted and devastated, and, once and for all, I was done. Fear had dominated my life. And I was done with it.

From there on out, I forged an agreement with myself—I was in control. Not fear.

When fear is in control, we can’t fulfill our purpose. I had known my purpose: to help others live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. And yet fear kept me from going about that with full force. Once I was able to take control back and overcome fear, I could clearly see how to go about fulfilling my purpose in life. Without fear directing me, I was unstoppable.

Things are scary right now—and will be again. There’s no getting around that. But fear can become rocket fuel when you put it in its proper place.