The Washington Post

A lesson from Cameroon in letting go of fear

For this installment of our "Micro Management Stories" video series, we interviewed Kah Walla about leadership. Walla ran for president in Cameroon's 2011 elections, and she shared with me her story of being kidnapped before the election and the lesson she drew from it about letting go of your fears.

Watch her tell the story, or read the transcript that follows:

I think one of my greatest lessons in leadership was when I was kidnapped during my run for the presidency of Cameroon in 2011. When I was kidnapped, I of course panicked. I experienced the greatest fear I've ever experienced in my life. It took me about 15 minutes to realize, though, that I was being afraid of something I had no control over. I had no idea where these men were taking me, I had no idea what was going to happen, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I let go of that uncertainty and of that fear, and I decided to focus on my interactions with them. Most interestingly with one of these individuals, we discussed my political program. And I honestly believe that I think he voted for me.

Even in the most extreme situation, you can have power. You can have leadership. As soon as I was able to let go of fear, to let go of what I could not control, and to focus on what I could control—which was my interaction with these men—I gained power.

Watch the previous video in our series:

How to embrace being the boss

Like On Leadership? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Lillian Cunningham is the editor and feature writer for The Washington Post's 'On Leadership' section.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
It's in the details: Five ways to enhance your kitchen makeover
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Border collies: A 'mouse trap' for geese on the National Mall
Play Videos
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
What you need to know about Planned Parenthood
Play Videos
How to save and spend money at college
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Jena McGregor · May 23, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.