Friday, November 13, 2009

Courage - conquering limiting fear

I remember reading a list of what people fear and being surprised to see that public speaking was feared more than death. This is something I can relate to because public speaking was and is one of my fears. And it is a peculiar aspect of life that what we fear always catches up to us at some point.

Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Rabindranath Tagore

When I was a child I was humiliated at school by a teacher. We were given the task of thinking of some subject to present to the class. I said I couldn’t think of anything and she said to recite the Lord’s Prayer instead. Everyone made their presentations and the teacher saved me for last. By then I had thought of some subject which I shyly presented, then I recited the Lord’s Prayer. The whole class burst out laughing and I was completely humiliated. Ever since that time I was terrified of speaking before groups and I avoided it.
Until the day came when an important job opportunity arose which entailed giving a training course as the first step. I was hired because of my expertise. I went through the trainer’s training course and everything went well until the day came when I had to make my first presentation to my colleagues.
I remember taking a solitary walk just before the presentation in a state of pure, intense, petrified anguish. The sun and the deep green of the grass were annoyingly beautiful that day. I was at a fork in the road and two very different destinies (it seemed) lay before me depending upon my choice. Necessity again was my staunch ally, but I am here to tell you that I had to take all of my courage in both hands that day when I made that presentation. The content was good, for I had prepared thoroughly. The delivery was awful. But I did it and subsequent presentations improved slowly.
Years later, destiny again cruelly placed me in the position of having to give training courses and I had to live through an extremely difficult period, doing something I feared and hated on a daily basis. But I did it. I wasn’t good, and I never liked it. But I got to the point where it was merely disagreeable to me rather than frightening.

Fear limits us. How much easier those trying experiences would have been for me if I had not avoided speaking before groups in the past, if I had confronted my fear before my destiny depended upon it.

As Tagore says, what we fear will catch up to us one day; it is a law of life. Better we face it now, by our own choice, and take away its bullying, limiting power over us.

The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then. Thomas Carlyle

Attacking is the only secret. Dare and the world always yields; or if it beats you sometimes, dare it again, and it will succumb. William Makepeace Thackeray

The block of granite, which was an obstacle in the path of the weak, becomes a stepping stone in the path of the strong. Thomas Carlyle

Life is like a grindstone; whether it grinds you down or sharpens you up depends on what you are made of. Anonymous

I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear is met and destroyed with courage. James F. Bell

Courage mounteth with occasion. Shakespeare/De Vere

Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. Shakespeare/De Vere

But screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail. Shakespeare/De Vere

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. Dale Carnegie

Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk - and to act. Maxwell Maltz

You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind. Dale Carnegie

Act, and God will act. Joan of Arc

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond