When Bozoma Saint John’s husband of 10 years, Peter, passed away in 2013, the fear of her new reality hit at once. “I was struggling with the weight of what it meant to raise my daughter without him,” the Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor recalls. “I didn’t intend on being a single mother. I certainly didn’t intend on being a young widow.”  

Fear — especially when it’s rooted in tragedy — can feel consuming. But Saint John doesn’t see it as bottomless. “The amazing thing about fear is that when you succumb to it, you find out there’s actually a bottom to it,” she explains.

So how can you finally move past fear? Saint John says that she found the necessary strength in her daughter, Lael, who was 4 at the time of her father’s death. In a particularly vulnerable moment, Saint John recalls waking Lael up, and asking for her help: “You’re going to help me, right? You’re going to help me raise you, you’re going to help me take care of you… You’re just going to help me.” With optimism, her daughter replied, “Okay. That’s okay.” And then she fell back asleep.

“That moment in my life absolutely was a turning point for me,” Saint John says of her daughter’s simple reassurance. It taught her that “asking for help while you find your own strength is strong,” and transformed her approach to everything from grief to work to motherhood.

Here, watch as Bozoma Saint John remembers that gut-punching conversation with her daughter, and how it taught her that even when it comes to her biggest fears, she doesn’t need to break a sweat.

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  • Alexandra Hayes

    Content Director, Product & Brand, at Thrive

    Alexandra Hayes is a Content Director, Product & Brand, at Thrive. Prior to joining Thrive, she was a middle school reading teacher in Canarsie, Brooklyn.