“Courage is not the absence of fear; the absence of fear is stupidity!”
From the chapter: “Courage” from THINK LIKE a BLACK BELT:
Courage is your ability to act in the face of fear and danger; however, fear is not usually our biggest problem. Trying to avoid fear is the real issue. Remember that failure is the result of fear, doubt and complacency. You can usually deal with fear and doubt somewhat clinically; complacency will get you killed every time! Ironically, complacency can really be a huge problem when you’re trying to overcome fear and doubt. The strange truth is that you can become very comfortable with your fears and doubts and that’s what makes the work of meaningful change so frightening.
One of the biggest problems in contemporary culture is that people will do almost anything to avoid fear, doubt and pain. The thing they do most is nothing. That’s complacency, and that’s a real problem! Change is often difficult and uncomfortable, but to move beyond your fears and doubts you’ve got to embrace change. You’ve got to leave the comfort of familiar fears and doubts and accept a little pain if you’re going to make meaningful changes.
Your grandmother probably said this to you, but once again, good philosophy is always worth repeating; no matter what you fear it’s always better to face your fears than run away from them. You can’t hide from fear and doubt; complacency is death by a thousand cuts. Every time you run from fear and doubt a part of you is sliced away.
So what should you do when real fear and doubt show up?
“What do you do when you meet the devil on the road?”
Think about that for a few minutes. What is your natural reaction or first impulse when you’re faced with something or someone you fear? What do you usually want to do when the outcome of your actions is uncertain, risky, or dangerous?
What should you do when you meet the devil on the road?
“Shake his hand!”
Quit or take action; only one of these choices guarantees a predictable outcome. You know what’s going to happen when you quit: nothing! Choose action and all of a sudden you’re throwing dice. Despite popular contemporary self-help mythology, action is no guarantee of success. The opposite is true; nearly any action is full of risk, and maybe the greatest risk is failure.
Failure might be your devil; shake his hand! Facing your fears is the first step, and I’d argue the only option, if you want to have some chance of success. Stepping on the field won’t assure victory, but you can’t do anything from the sidelines. Get in the game!
What do you fear? According to a fascinating study of top 10 fears complied by SelfHelpCollective.com , these were the top three results:
#1: Fear of flying. (Or maybe fear of being stranded on the tarmac for a 4 hour flight delay with no water or peanuts!)
#2: Speaking in public. (This fear sells a lot of public speaking courses!)
#3: Fear of heights.
This data was produced by compiling the most searched for fear related terms on engines like Google.
For the record, fear of death comes in at number six, preceded by fear of intimacy! What the heck is going on here?
The Phobia Website has arachnophobia in first place, followed by “sociophobia,” the fear of people or social situations. Death is number 10 on their poll! The world famous Gallop pollsters list the fear of snakes, public speaking and heights as 1, 2 and 3 and fear of death didn’t even make their list!
OK, the fear of snakes and spiders is probably instinctive; let’s cut ourselves some slack there. Fear of heights and flying might have some metaphorical connection to a fear of success and achievement, but that may be a stretch.
Here’s the weird one: is it safe to assume that the average adult fears meeting and talking to other people and getting close to one another above the fear of one’s own death?!
I really don’t know if this is true, but it makes a great starting place for our discussion. I can believe these results are accurate, mostly because so many people are hesitant to face up to their real fears. That’s why death shows up so low, or in the case of Gallop not at all. Who thinks about death every day? Probably old people and the terminally ill; that might be why they look more courageous than the rest of us when they’re facing it.
Speaking in public and interacting with one another seem to be easy fears to mitigate. If you want to be less fearful about speaking in public, learn how to do it properly by practicing. If you fear intimacy or social interaction, you’d likely benefit by simply getting out a little more. There are very few fears that can’t be conquered through practice; simple, not always easy.
Both of these fears reveal an important part of our mindset. Speaking your mind in front of others and interacting with people outside your comfort zone both expose you to danger. You might fail to make your point, you might be ridiculed or criticized, and you really might look stupid.
It makes sense to fear death, within reason. The fear of death is probably our most effective survival mechanism! The truth is, however, we all punched that ticket when we got on this train! You’re not going to escape death, so it would be time well spent to contemplate the meaning of life and death once in a while.
Focus on life. It’s important to appreciate each day of your life; there’s that gratitude thing again, and make the most of it. Fear of death can prevent you from living and that’s just a damn shame. Accepting death as an inevitable end causes you to appreciate life; that’s a significant irony!
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