Overcoming Purpose Intimidation

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Overcoming Purpose Intimidation

ecently, I was invited to a Business breakfast at a prominent hotel in Kampala. The guest speaker was a well informed individual who is so passionate about what they are doing. They have raffled feathers with the high and mighty and it seems as if all is running smoothly for them. Of course they drew their talk from their personal journey of business and entrepreneurship.

Where Overwhelm Comes From

As I sat there listening, I was inspired and motivated. However, something else happened to me. I felt a serious flash of intimidation and overwhelm sweep over me. It is the same feeling you get when you meet a former school mate who seems to have “arrived”, while you look a pale shadow of the promise you had those days back in school. It is the same feeling you get when you start comparing what your peers are doing with what you have achieved.

  • All of a sudden, it feels as if you are in the wrong profession
  • All of a sudden, it feels as if you are not as hard working
  • All of a sudden, it feels as if you are not smart enough, or daring enough, or well connected enough

Before you know it, you feel so intimidated in their presence. You start taking a serious introspection in what you are engaged in, with a view of wanting to abandon ship. You start thinking that the best thing you need to do is to join this seemingly well to do friend in their venture. You start asking how they made it. You want to find the shortcuts. You want to find out how lucky they became. You want to follow the same steps they took…


You want to abandon what you were doing in the process. That is the anatomy of intimidation. Intimidation causes people to among other things:

  • Lose their self esteem
  • Get discouraged by their own efforts
  • Look down on what they have done
  • Feel overwhelmed and as if they are failures in waiting in life

If you are not careful, the discouragement that meets you when you are in the presence of those who have already come in their gory, those who have already arrived can make you give up on your “little” project altogether.

Stop The Traffic and Think!

Do you notice what is happening here? You could be under the illusion that this person who seems to have prospered did that out of the blue. You might be under the illusion that they used shortcuts and it was easy for them to do it. At times, we do not take time to notice the sweat, blood, tears and smart working that they used to get them where they are! We see them on the stage of grandeur and we forget that they had quite a bit to overcome before they got there. We tend to forget that times of our appointments to come to our glory vary from one person to another. Comparing ourselves to other accomplishments can be a terrible snare especially if that comparison causes us to want to stop pursuing our purpose.

Dealing with the Intimidation

It is only natural to do the comparison. Those who do not do it must have attained the highest level of certainty in what they are doing. Letting it get the best of us is where the problem comes in. I am thinking that instead of being intimidated, it is an opportunity for us to learn. It is an opportunity for us to draw inspiration and know that if they did it, we will too. The following are the ways you could deal with the intimidation.

1. Stay On Purpose

Purpose has a funny way of showing results. You can incubate for a very long time before the impact you have been working on comes to the fore. So make sure that the intimidation especially with the results you are seeing in your friend does not take you off your purpose. Actually, it is an opportunity for you to re-evaluate. Are you in this for the glory and the grandeur that you see or are you in this for the sake of impact? If impact is not your focus, then you will be intimidated. You will want to become a surgeon instead of a preacher that you were called to be. One of the most dangerous things to do is to fall out of step with your purpose.Stay the course…but make sure it is the right course to begin with!!

2. Draw Inspiration and Be Challenged

Let the grandeur you see in your friend light up a fire under you to immerse yourself in pursuing what matters to you.

It is a strong trait to draw strength from those whom we feel have surpassed us in impact. The easy way of doing this is to picture yourself right where they are right now, albeit with you doing what you are doing! You can almost feel a spike or surge of inspiration. It is easier to imagine yourself in their state now that you can see them in their glory. Let their achievement be a wake up call to you to keep doing what you are doing.

3. Learn From them but Don’t Change your craft

The person who has “arrived” surely as so much experience and expertise to share. Unfortunately people get star struck at their achievements and fail to ask for nuggets, references, tips, links and more nuggets on how to get there. I have come to find that such people who have arrived are always gracious enough to give you this information. Know this though: they never ever give us the fruits. They cannot condense all they did in one speech. So all they give us is “where to smell”. They give us where to look. They give us the seeds. Instead of feeling intimidated, straighten up, fold up your sleeves and put these seeds they give you into the ground.

4. Learn to Be Patient!

Take a look at their lives carefully, those who have “arrived”. They didn’t arrive there overnight. Recently, we shared the story of Honda, how he became an “overnight success”.

Getting there takes time. You might be on the right track. You might have just set off. You might be going through a dip. In whatever circumstance, learn to know that great things take time. Appreciate that fact. Lean into your work and do not be discouraged momentarily by this intimidation.