The Fortune in Fear

“He is able who thinks he is able.” ~Buddha

I remember hearing this idea somewhere that courage was not the absence of fear, but rather, the ability to do something in the presence of it.

I am scared of being on a boat. I always was. When I was 18, I dated a guy who had a boat, and I decided to brave my fear and get on it for a three day voyage across the Mediterranean. I know, I could have started by peddling in a canoe in a pond, but no—three days, no sight of land.

There was a guy on the boat who was all tough and cool, and he kept saying, “Come on get over it.”

He missed the point. I got over it. I was on the boat; that was about as much as I could do. Scared of it, and yet doing it.

I asked the cool, tough guy what he was afraid of, and he said horses. I happened to have a horse and to not be scared of them an ounce. I invited him to join me after the boat debacle. He said never. Aha! I was on the boat, and he would not come to ride a horse. Get my drift?

Well, I am scared of public speaking, and there I was last month doing a TEDx Talk. The fear was so strong some nights that I literally stayed up till dawn. But I did it. I loved it actually.

Maybe there is a direct link between how hard I imagined it would be and how joyful it felt to complete it.

As long as we don’t let it stop us, fear is a friend, believe it or not. It ignites more power inside of us, so we can jump higher. It is the fear, the managed fear that fuels our engines.

I am still scared of boats and speaking in public, and I am still going to do both. I have never spoken to anyone who said they were afraid of doing something and regretted doing it after they overcame their fear.

We feel good when we overcome our fears. We know we are bigger than them.

We know that we are meant to transcend them.

That is why we love watching athletes push beyond the average boundaries. We instinctively know what they had to overcome to get to where we see them. And to witness someone overcome their fear is a sure way to ignite our engines!

Photo by mdpai75

About Sophie Chiche

“What is most meaningful to you?” Walk into the offices of lifebyme.com and you’ll hear this question being asked several times a day by Sophie Chiche, curator & founder. The answers come from an eclectic group of people—Nobel Prize winners, media moguls, fishermen, midwives, global leaders and more.

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