Be brave; learn to overcome your fears…

June 11, 2022

Several of the little quotes that I collect seemed to coalesce onto a more complete thought today.

Nelson Mandela

“You fear what you don’t know.”  (Chad Druetzler) 

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  (Nelson Mandela)

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. (Marie Curie)

I was a little unsure how to position the last two quotes, but I think the order is correct.

It seems to me that fear of things that we don’t know or understand is what underlies most of the hate, prejudices and conspiracy theories that we see and experience in the world.  Most, if not all, of that fear is caused by a lack of knowledge and understanding. We encounter someone who is different from ourselves and immediately become fearful because we don’t understand them – they are outside of our normal frame of reference and thus represent some sort of unknown danger. Fear takes over.

Unfounded prejudices are based on this fear reaction when the fear is generalized and applied to a group of people who share some characteristic or trait – perhaps the color of their skin, or the way they dress or speak (language, or even the color of their hair or the fact that they have a tattoo or piercing of some sort. It is easy to recognize within yourself, if your reaction to encountering someone different is immediate fear, disgust or defensive, without any additional reason.

It is much harder to take Mandela’s or Marie Curie’s advice and overcome those fears. The key is probably to be found in Curie’s quote and that is to shift your thought process from fearful reaction onto trying to understand what is causing your reaction. Just stop yourself to ask, “What am I really afraid of and why?” That pause alone will allow you to regain control over what might have been a thoughtless, “knee-jerk” reaction, which is often called prejudice.

Curie’s answer to Druetzler’s observation is to take Mandela’s advice and conquer your fears by making the effort to understand what is driving them. So, as you hit new challenges or meet new people; rather than approach those events in trepidation, embrace them in wonder and with a resolve to understand them, not fear them.

Be brave. Learn to overcome your fears. As a side-benefit, you will live a rich and more satisfying life.

Take the first step…

June 23, 2015

“You can’t ever take the next step until you take the first.”  (Deacon Jones). Of course, I saw that first on the Jack’s Winning Words blog and it’s an important piece of advice. Many people spend their lives dreaming about something or hoping to someday accomplish some specific thing, but they never take that first step. Others try to skip over taking the first step, hoping that they can jump into something in the middle somewhere – life doesn’t work like that either.
turtleMany things can keep us from talking the first step, but most of the time it’s usually fears. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt or FUD, as we called it in the business world that I was once a part of, was actually a strategic weapon that many companies used to gain advantage or to overcome a disadvantage. In life FUD often has the effect of stopping us from taking those critical first steps towards some goal. Fear of rejection prevents us from asking the girl of our dreams out. Fear of failure stops us from trying a new way of doing something; a way that may well have been the best path to success. Uncertainty makes us hesitate just long enough for the moment that we had been waiting for to pass. Doubts about our looks or our clothes or our abilities or whatever keep us from even trying. Don’t let FUD rule your life. Take the first step.

Another saying that seems to go along with today’s quote was also recently on Jack’s blog – “Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” ― Gena Showalter

I suppose that never taking the first step is a way to sort of “pre-fail” instead of a way to prevail. Some people have theafraid ability to rationalize that avoiding that first step is a good thing, because then they could never fail at whatever it is that they are avoiding. Many of these do nothing people go through life telling themselves that they coulda done it if they wanted to and that they woulda done it had it not been for something that was out of their control. Later in life those same people lament that they shoulda done it when they had the chance. Don’t be a coulda, woulda, shoulda person. Take the first step.

Sometimes that first step can seem very scary; however, as I’ve written here before, I suspect that most of the things that we are afraid of as we step off are things that exist only in our imaginations. The human mind is an amazing fiction writer and, given its head (pun intended) to come up with the worst possible scenarios, it will work overtime to conjure up Lions and Tigers and Bears – oh, my! The good news is that our minds are also a great visualization machines that can show you the path to success. Most great athletes visualizationpractice visualizing their shots or their games. They see themselves being successful. They see the winning putt going in or the three-point shot to win the game hitting nothing but net. Successful business people also use visualization to imagine the perfect presentation or the customer saying yes and signing the contract. You can also use visualization to look ahead and see success in your life. But, before it can make a difference; you must take the first step.

So think about the things that are still on your “to-do” list for life (your bucket-list, if you will); the things that you really wanted or hoped to do someday; the goals that have been floating around in the back of your mind for some time. What’s stopping you? What are you afraid of? Many of the obstacles that you see ahead are real and not imagined; so, you’ll need to visualize yourself overcoming those hurdles. Practice in your mind ten times; a hundred times; as many times as it takes to “see” yourself being successful. Explore the various alternatives and pick the best path to that success for you. Be prepared to deal with setbacks and to capitalize on successes, but most important – take the first step.

Sometimes when you take that first step it will be like the first time you jumped off the high dive at the swimming pool ashigh board a kid. It scared the crap out of you and you were sure that you were going to die or at least feel a lot of pain. But afterwards, when you popped up to the pool surface and realized that you did it and you didn’t hurt yourself, you couldn’t wait to get back up there and do it again. Most things in life that you are afraid of won’t really kill you, even if you fail initially; but, you’ll never feel that exhilaration of having done it and survived until you take the first step.

Look at it this way, yesterday was Monday and you took that first step. That didn’t kill you, so now you can go on to the next step. So, have a great week ahead the journey has just begun because yesterday you took the first step.

Push the envelope – break out of your bubble…

March 5, 2015

For some reason that escapes me now, I came up with the idea to do a post on the topic of “pushing the envelope”. I Googled that phrase to see if there had been any significant quotes about that topic. I found this really deep thought from way, way back.

Just as the mother’s womb holds us for ten months not in preparation for itself but for the region to which we seem to be discharged when we are capable of drawing breath and surviving in the open, so in the span extending from infancy to old age we are ripening for another birth. Another beginning awaits us, another status. We cannot yet bear heaven’s light except at intervals; look unfalteringly, then, to that decisive hour which is the body’s last but not the soul’s. All that lies about you look upon as the luggage in a posting station; you must push on. At your departure Nature strips you as bare as at your entry. You cannot carry out more than you brought in; indeed, you must lay down a good part of what you brought into life. The envelope of skin, which is your last covering, will be stripped off; the flesh and the blood which is diffused and courses through the whole of it will be stripped off; the bones and sinews which are the structural support of the shapeless and precarious mass will be stripped off. That day which you dread as the end is your birth into eternity. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (5 B.C.–A.D. c. 65), Roman philosopher, statesman. Letter 102 to Lucilius (c. 60 A.D.).

Wow! I’m not ready to go there yet or even to explore this quote in any depth, but it blew me away.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca takes us on a quick journey from birth to death in a blink of an eye and a paragraph. Lucius was focused upon the end game, which I may return to in a future post; but I wanted to touch on more immediate things, like the daily here and now.

man in a bubbleI was going to begin this post with a “quote” from my own thoughts about the topic, which is  – “If you don’t push the envelope you are forever trapped within  a bubble of your own making.” I quite liked that and thought it clever, but then I realized it is also somewhat superficial. But, I’m going to go with it anyway.

We all find our own comfort zones and most of us settle into a contented life within that zone. What we don’t realize is that we become entrapped by the bubble of our own comfort zones. We don’t try new things, we don’t meet new people, we don’t take risks; instead, we “go with what we know” and convince ourselves that there is no reward to push the envelope and get outside of that wonderful feeling of safety and security. What a pity! Yes, there is comfort in the security of the familiar life within the bubble that we havepeople in bubbles built for ourselves; but there is also sameness and boredom and emptiness. A life lived in the safety of only the known is a life lived without adventure or discovery, a life lived without the enriching lessons of failure and ultimately a life lived without passion.

I have posted here from time to time about not ending life with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” , and that is really what we are talking about. Pushing the envelope means taking the risks that you have been avoiding. It means asking out the guy or girl that you most fear rejection from or taking that giant leap of faith to quit your secure, but boring, job to pursue your dreams (maybe after you’ve spent the extra time to get the education that you need for pursuing your dream). Most times it involves more than just pushing on the walls of the bubble that we call our lives – it involved breaking through those walls and exposing ourselves to new and scary risks in order to achieve what we’ve been dreaming about for some time.

I love the TV show The Voice because every one of the contestants is at the breakthrough point in their lives. The stories that that they all tell, right before they go on stage in the blind auditions part, are about pushing on the bubble in their lives and dive inhow this show is their way to break out of that bubble and dive into their dreams.  It’s great TV, but it’s also great life drama. One can’t help but root for them to be successful. In them we somehow see ourselves taking that chance to break free. It is a quick moment of vicarious living through their experiences; but, if we are honest with ourselves, it is also disappointing, because we know in our hearts that we have hesitated in our own lives.

So what are you doing to push on your own personal bubble? What are your unfulfilled dreams? Are they still out there, just beyond the bubble that you currently inhabit? What do you think would happen if you pushed towards them? If you see that life dreams
doesn’t end just because you push for them, then why are you still in that bubble? Push the envelope in your life. Your bubble won’t really burst and leave you standing there naked and alone, it will probably just stretch with your to get to your goals.

If there is a good lesson to be learned from the beginning quote from  Lucius Annaeus Seneca it’s that whatever we have at the end we leave behind anyway, so why not let that be a smile because you pushed the envelope and achieved your dreams. Don’t live your life in a bubble that you have created for yourself.  Go for it!