Now, 20+ years later, I’m married with three children of my own. I love the experience of passing on to my children the courage to challenge difficult opportunities and the ability to conquer their fears.
When my kids were younger, we read fairy tales or I made them up using my children as the stars of the stories.
As John Eldridge, one of my favorite authors, says in his book Wild at Heart, any great fairy tales have three exciting elements:
1. A brave man seeks adventure;
2. He overcomes his fears and slays his dragon;
3. He rescues his beautiful princess.
Section 1: The Power of the Idea
Ex 2: Understand Your Fears
Fear always springs from ignorance.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet)
But perfect love drives out fear...
(1 John 4:18 NIV)
Jumping into the subject of “fear” may seem like a strange way to begin. It’s hard for us to imagine this, and hopefully we’ll never experience it, but did you know that a prisoner who spends his life behind bars in a prison cell is fearful when he is released into society because he actually grew accustomed to the confinement of his cell? It was his home. And because he was unaccustomed to the way life functioned outside of his little home, it created in him a sense of fear.
Some prisoners who have been released actually commit crimes again just to get themselves back into their box (their “home”) where they can feel secure.
Your fear factor may be one of the biggest factors in limiting your ability to expand your influence, grow into becoming a better, more capable person, flourish in any environment, innovate and find new solutions, and become the person that God wants you to be. How many of us are afraid to ask questions for fear of looking stupid. We see a friend or classmate ridiculed or laughed at and we determine not to let that happen to us because of fear.
Everyone comes from a different background, a different family, and has different experiences growing up. You can’t escape these and the way you think about life that these experiences have formed in your life. Your parents may have said repeatedly, “You can’t do that,” and so you believed you couldn’t do a number of things. Part of the recovery from such false thinking is to recognize or relearn what your specific limitations are and discover how that makes you view the world differently.
To many, baseball is a great sport. Some of the games in the major leagues can be thrilling to watch. You can learn a lot about life from one simple aspect of baseball: A baseball player can’t steal second base and keep his foot on first base at the same time. Had you ever thought of that? It has never been done. Of course it can’t be done. A good runner never really knows if he will make it or not on a steal, yet everyone looks forward to the moment when a runner attempts just this, and they applaud him regardless of whether he is successful or not.
Good base stealers are not afraid to make a mistake or to fail. If second base was only 5 steps away, many more runners would try it. Soon, stealing second base wouldn’t be such a big deal, would it?
It’s the same in soccer (also known as football to those outside of North America). Sometimes, a team has to bring up a defender to help in the attack, even though this leaves their own defense at risk. Players go on runs, but leave themselves out of position should their attack prove unsuccessful. There’s a balance between risk and reward, and good soccer players know that they must take calculated risks to gain a reward.
One of the easiest ways to begin to overcome your fear is to continually challenge yourself. A lot of success in entrepreneurship lies in your ability to communicate with others. So when your teacher (in any subject) asks for someone to give a presentation, you can be the one to volunteer. At first, giving presentations is a little scary. But the more you practice, the more you get past your fears. It’s the best way I’ve discovered to grow in your courage and overcome any inhibitions about appearing foolish. I used to be the shyest boy in my class. Now I’m a teacher in front of hundreds of students every year. Fears can be overcome.
The fastest way to overcome your fears is to understand what makes you afraid, to do it, and continue to do it until your fear is laid to rest in a coffin where it belongs. If you continue to live in your fear, it’s like lying down in a coffin - it may be soft and cool but it doesn’t belong to the land of the living.
If you do the thing that you fear, the death of your fear is a complete certainty. When I was a younger man training to be a volunteer worker in Eastern Europe, I was given the opportunity to conquer my fears of talking to strangers.
I had come down from my home in a village outside of Ottawa, Canada to the big city of Chicago in Illinois State, USA. It was somewhat daunting for me. Our trainer wanted us to conquer our fears by facing them head on. He announced that for the following four weeks, we would venture down to Rush Street on Saturday evening when all the young people (and crazy people it seemed like) gathered. Our goal was to spend three hours engaging people in conversation about our beliefs and faith in God. I was, to be honest, completely petrified.
On the first evening, we paired up and my team leader chose me as his partner. For one hour we wandered the streets afraid to approach anyone. Finally, I admitted my fear. My leader said, “Me, too.” It was such a relief that we were both completely afraid. I didn’t feel so timid knowing that I wasn’t the only one. With fresh enthusiasm, we plunged in and approached people. Within minutes, we were engaged in wonderful conversation and, at the end of the evening, we were flying higher than kites. We had conquered our fears of approaching people and it felt marvelous. The second week was much easier, and by the fourth week, we were scarcely even nervous.
Henry Ford, the great car maker, once said, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Basically, when you raise your level of thinking from ordinary, average or mediocre by meeting your fears head on, you propel yourself into a new realm where the potential is enormous and the possibilities are endless. Furthermore, the magnetic attraction is quite tangible and people will literally be drawn to you because they recognize something that is not ordinary, and in their deepest heart they long to soar. We were soaring after our downtown Chicago experience and our enthusiasm upon our return to the training center was contagious. It was thrilling to watch other people catch our excitement and celebrate with us.