Don’t Be Afraid!



Mike Duffy

Philanthropist and Author


“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Fear can literally kill you. Fear is an incredibly destructive force in the human psyche. Fear comes from the Latin word periculum, which means “peril.” Most people never become successful because they are afraid to fail. They are afraid to try because they fear what other people will say about them. You can never accomplish your goals or be happy if you give in to fear.

As you go through your day, imagine you have an impenetrable shield in your left hand. Use that shield as protection against rejection, worry, and doubt. Lift up your shield and fend off negative comments, disillusionment, and disappointment. Avoid negative people. Avoid people that criticize you. Don’t let anything hurt you or keep you down. The only time you should see fear is in your rearview mirror. Fear is a choice.

In order to start an Up Cycle, which I define as a set of positive behaviours that lead to a positive outcome, you have to put your fear aside and believe that you can accomplish anything. You cannot make progress if you believe you cannot do it. Progress contributes to happiness. One of the most powerful motivators is accountability.

Abandoning fear and embracing your true potential is an act that must occur daily. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen if I decide to get healthy today? What’s the worst that could happen if I decide to be happy right now?” Asking questions like these can remove your fear and turn your day in the right way.

Steve Jobs once said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Steve Jobs was abandoned by his biological birth parents and given up for adoption. Strike one. He never got a college degree. Strike two. He was even pushed out of Apple – the company that he started – in 1985. Strike three. He never gave in to fear, however.

Our thoughts control our emotions and our emotions control our reality. Here is an example: If someone tells you at work that they think you are going to lose your job, you probably go into a state of panic and fear immediately. That person could be wrong.

They may have misread the situation. The reality might be that your job security is just fine. Your body and your emotions, however, become crippled with unnecessary fear. You start snapping at people, stop working so hard, and become ineffectual at your job. As a result of your negative thoughts about losing your job, you get fired because your negative thoughts affected your emotions, which changed your reality for the worse.

That’s another reason that you should never give in to fearful thoughts. Fearful thoughts do not produce positive outcomes.

Think about all the fears you have had during your life. Look back and see that, no matter what happened to you, you made it through. You are still alive. You are able to read or listen to this article. As you look ahead to your life, use your past to reassure yourself that you will overcome whatever comes your way. You have done it before. You can do it again. Don’t let your fears trap you into a life of mediocrity. The choice has always been and will always be yours. Grab life by the horns, slay your fears, and be happy.

One way to not give into fear is to practice calmness. Be prepared for the waves to rock your small skiff that you call your life. After one wave passes, another will come, then another. Understand that life is a series of waves that shapes who we are. It is these challenges to our balance that will make us stronger and better able to deal with future imbalances. Learn how others kept their balance in difficult waters by reading and asking fellow captains what they did when all seemed lost. Wisdom comes from learning from our mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

Being calm in the face of a storm takes discipline. You must focus on being calm. You cannot let your oar falling into the sea rattle you. If you only have one oar left, make the best of it. Use that one oar to methodically and precisely get you to a new oar or, better yet, get you to a new yacht. If you retain your focus and practise inner peace, you can make the best of any situation. There are times that you must see yourself as a massive rock, or a mighty oak tree planted beside the water. You shall not be moved.

Then there are times that you must envision yourself like an Olympic gymnast on the balance beam. You twist, leap, bend over backward, and do a sumersault. You can do whatever it takes to achieve victory without falling down. If a 14-year-old gymnast can do these routines flawlessly with the entire world watching, you can get through your workday with peace and dignity, if you focus your thoughts on being calm in the face of adversity.   ■

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of RGF Integrated Wealth Management, which makes no representations as to their completeness or accuracy.

Mike Duffy is a philanthropist and an author of five books on happiness. As a public speaker, his audiences include corporations, government organizations, and universities, including Stanford University, where he has guest-lectured and has a scholarship award.

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