January 11, 2016
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
You’d think that was the 11th Commandment, lost in the sands of time at Sinai, but reintroduced in the 21st Century by people who never turn off the “breaking news” app. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The line comes from the 1986 movie classic, The Fly. Jeff Goldblum’s character is going insect; Geena Davis’ character recognizes that a horror flick without fear becomes a comedy before the credits. She cues the audience through her scripted caution: a man who becomes a fly can be a problem...
Bear Grylls is famous: he’s become an international celebrity for being alone in situations that normal people would fear, doing things that would make most people afraid. His television audiences set rationality aside – they saw the president alone with Grylls in Alaska (Running Wild, December 17), performing feats of courageous survival, unaware of the 50-person White House entourage that included snipers and food testers – watching the “I could never do that” activities that affirm their anxieties.
The Fear Spectrum has extremes at both ends and everyone on the scale, somewhere. One end is Fearless; the other is Phobic. The evaluation can be situation specific: flying, communal eating with bare hands, riding elevators, unrestrained immigration; how does fear affect you in each of those scenarios? While easy to assess in the particulars, fear becomes a defining dimension of each person, in summation: how does the Fear Factor affect you, as you launch 2016 as a clean-slate year of life?
- “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)
“I am intimidated by the fear of being average.” (Taylor Swift)
“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” (Bruce Lee)
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” (Francis Chan)
“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man’s terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God.” (G.K. Chesterton)
“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” (Paul of Tarsus)
Most people would have stopped reading at the third paragraph… afraid of where I was going. You’re still with me; allow me to ask the obvious question: what are you planning to do this year that would make thoughtful people fearful? Where are you placing yourself at risk, in pursuit of a suitable objective that warrants managing the possibility of failure?
Too often, we’re surrounded by safe people who have perfected risk avoidance and talk with concern about friends who are engaged in “dangerous lifestyles.” My discovery: if I’m not involved in some things that make me look reckless to others, it’s time to reevaluate my game plan.
You’re not right because you’re at risk: you’re right if your risk taking is in pursuit of something worthy of the courage it takes to do it.
May your new year be defined by achievements unavailable to those whose phobias disable their faith…