“Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.” W. Clement Stone
She lived a little over a block away from our home. On Halloween night, her home was in our geographical target area for Trick-or-treating. As kids, we heard the rumors . . . and we made up even more to scare each other! The house was always dark on Halloween night, so naturally, we picked up our pace when passing by. Our efforts to scare each other worked.
Why were we afraid? Because someone told us to be afraid. It was the path that had been created by some of the older kids in the neighborhood. We believed what they told us because they were older, and would emphatically assert they “knew what they were talking about!” When we were the older and more ‘authoritarian’ kids on the block, we continued to pass along the legendary neighborhood folklore. It was the path that had been carved before us and we followed it. Part of the attraction was the fun we had as kids scaring each other.
False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR) is an acronym that accurately describes our childhood Halloween story. This phrase, coined by Zig Ziglar, the great motivational speaker, suggests that some of the things we fear in life arise out of false evidence that seems real. Our perception seems valid because someone we trust has imparted to us their own set of facts. And perception, right or wrong, is going to affect our beliefs. And our beliefs are going to impact our decisions. Do you agree?
We only have to go back in time and think about things we feared that never materialized. You could probably make a mental list of fears throughout your life that were just not real. It happens to all of us. The problem becomes monumental when decisions we make, based on unreal fears, significantly impact our lives. We may resolve not to do something because we fear the potential consequences. And ‘no decision’ is actually a decision. Results could be life-changing for us, as well as the most important people surrounding us.
A healthy fear quotient is important. It is a natural mechanism, part of being human, helping us survive when danger is imminent. Fear represents both risk and opportunity.
What fears are impacting your life?
Fear of embarrassment . . .
Fear of disapproval . . .
Fear of loss of love . . .
Fear of loss of income . . .
Fear of ill health . . .
Fear of death . . .
Fear of . . .
Looking at this list, I can clearly recall times when I was afraid of ill health. I can remember waiting for a medical test to reveal whether or not I had a serious disease. In today’s world of sophisticated technology, there are numerous tests that could each result in possible bad news. Have you or a family member experienced this situation?
Personally, I have not yet discovered how to fully minimize fears associated with ill health. Part of this is because I am older. I recognize that advancing age often presents greater risk of illness. Some day in the future, there is always a possibility that the test will be positive, thus becoming the source of my greatest fear. But, even with the possibility of bad news, is fear the best way to live our lives? I think not.
After spending an evening at a cancer retreat with people in various stages of medical treatment, I was simply amazed by their faith! They had every reason to be fearful of the future. Their fears would actually be real because they had already experienced a cancer diagnosis. Yet, despite the reality, the overwhelming spirit I discovered was not that of fear . . . but of faith and gratitude! Their focus was on the future and the opportunities in fully embracing life. Here was a group of people who could teach all of us how to conquer our fears.
As a professional speaker, regularly I do something that is greatly feared by most people: I get up in front of an audience and . . . speak. Surveys have been done that indicate people are more afraid of standing up to address any size of audience than even facing death. Even though I have been privileged to address many groups, I still get a little nervous before a major presentation. And the reason for this is that my standards are very high regarding what I want to achieve when speaking. Therefore, my fear is that I will not attain the excellence I seek.
So, how do I handle such trepidation? Simply stated, I forge ahead, doing what I really love to do! I recognize my fear and still move forward. If just one person in a group listening to me is touched or helped, then I am assured that this is why I was there. And the prospect of helping one person is more important and a greater force than fearing that I will not be my best! My fear is conquered by focusing on a good outcome. Risk and opportunity are two diverse elements that seem to be central to any fear.
What, right now, is your biggest fear? Is it real? Is it keeping you from moving forward with your life purposes? An author friend of mine from New Jersey says to “do 12 things every single day that scare the heck out of you!” (He uses a different word for ‘heck’). His mantra may not seem reasonable at first blush, but he is making an essential point: Do not let fear be the reason you do not end up doing exactly what you really want to do with your life. Do not let fear dictate future regrets.
Not making a decision is indeed a decision! And it may have a greater effect on our lives than doing what we know we need to do. You are not ‘a fan in the stands’ . . . you are in the game! And, that game is your life.
What fear do you most want to conquer?
What fear do you most need to face?
What benefits could be realized if you just move forward?
What one single, small, step could you make to get started?
Today I will . . .