All of us know that ships moored in the harbour are safe, but, that of course is not what ships are meant for! Similarly, with us. If we are fearful and indecisive, if we keep putting off taking a decision on a matter – in other words, if we remain in the harbour, we might be safe for a while at least, but that’s not what life is about. Unlike any other animal on the face of the earth, human instinct is to do more than just survive.
We are designed by God to do more than simply eat, drink, sleep, procreate and stay alive. We, human beings are built with an inquisitive, adventurous, creative and calculating mind that desires, even commands that we leave the harbour and venture out on to the high seas in search of progress and betterment. Some author put it like this – “a human being is a human doing”. And of course, to be a human doing means that we have to overcome the fear and indecision that would otherwise hold us back.
There are two things that we really need to understand about fear. The first is that everyone suffers from it in some form or the other – at-least occasionally, if not often. When I say everyone, I include myself and in fact all successful people everywhere as well as rich people, famous people, presidents, prime ministers and even kings and queens. All these people experience fear. Fear of what people might think, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of disaster, fear of death, you name anything and someone somewhere at some time or the other fears it.
The second thing about fear is how to tackle it and overcome it. The only way to overcome fear is to take action and tackle the fear head-on which more often than not means having to physically do the thing that we fear doing. Understanding that everyone experiences fear and that the only way to deal with it is to simply do the thing we are afraid of, is the best way to tackle it. The following tale which I read somewhere years ago, demonstrates the point rather well.
“Ashok’s mother shouted up the stairs, “come on son, it is time to get up and get ready for school”. But Ashok pulled the duvet up over his head and ignored his mother’s calling. A few minutes later, she knocked on his door and in a firmer voice she called, “come on, you have to get up right now, otherwise you will be late”. Ashok replied without removing the duvet “I am not going to school today. In fact, I am never going to school again”. “Don’t be silly” said his mother, “you have to go to school at any cost today”. “I am not going” was the response. “There are 1200 students in that school and they all hate me, Every last one of them. Even the teachers and the school care taker hate me and every day I end up in some sort of fight or conflict. Therefore, mom, just give me one good reason why I should go to school”. “I will do more than that” said his mother, “I will give you two reasons – the first is that you are 45 years of age and the second is that you are the Principal”.
My point behind the aforesaid story is this: Confrontation or the prospect of confrontation is sometimes inevitable and often causes fear and indecision. However, trying to run or hide away from it only compounds the problem.
Of course, fear does not always play the part of a monster whose mission is to overpower us and keep us from achieving whatever good we would like to achieve. Sometimes it is the complete opposite. Sometimes, fear is a good thing which protects us and keeps us out of harm’s way. For example, when the human body experiences fear in the presence of danger or when it experiences shock or cold and fatigue the hormone called adrenaline is produced. This would raise the blood pressure and the heart beat, which then provides the body with more oxygen. Adrenaline also causes the body to create glucose which provides us with additional energy, so that we can escape or fight.
Fear and indecision stop a great many people from achieving simply because they stop them from ever attempting in the first place to achieve. The American philosopher, William James said, “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.”