Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the value of fear

Fear is the fuel of success.  And it also has a role in how creative we can become. In the past four talks on this theme of creativity, I have examined four elements.  The first was how education is the cauldron of creativity.  The second element that I focused on was the importance of play in our lives. We saw that demonstrated in the olympics. Remember that smellovision of what it would be like to actually smell what was going on from the perspective of the TV.  The third element that I focused on was the importance of having a system when one sells something.  The last element that was focused on was the development of the creative spark within us.  This time we are embarking on the role that fear can play to move us forward and out of our comfort zone to make some truly amazing discoveries.
We all start out fearing something in our lives.  

A great panacea for fear is to just get out there and take the first few steps of a journey.
Especially when you have absolutely no idea of what is in front of you.
This has happened a few times to me in my life.  Let me tell you about a few of them.
One evening, I ventured out on my own by the bus to get off at Trumbull Mall and then walk a block or two to a pot luck dinner for several small churches.
I got off the bus that evening and started walking and approached a bridge.  I had only 880 house numbers to go until I reached my destination.   I thought that by crossing over the bridge I could easily collect 300 of those numbers as a bonus.  But no. I only knocked off 30 of the numbers. Only 850 to go.
About 30 minutes into my endless walk I raised my hand in the air and a blue van approached. It slowed down and I crossed the street and  said I need 5000 Road but I am only at 4400.  Fred of Black Rock agreed and I hopped  in for the 9 minute drive to the house I needed to be at.  Fred's wife, Nancy, was surprised that he picked up a hitchhiker but Fred said, "I know that guy, he has been to our bible study and retreat before!"
Then there is the time when I went off to Washington DC on a bus for a rally for Pro life one year. I went with the local catholic organization.  When I got there, I recognized one of the individuals who went to my church.  I asked if I could hang out with him for the day; he said sure.
I ended up getting lost for part of the afternoon when I headed over to the Minnesota booth and had trouble finding the opening where I was. So I wandered for a bit while I listened to the various speakers that afternoon. After about an hour, I got brought back into the fold.

Yesterday. I headed out to the Barnum Museum for a presentation on mummies and the preservation of them and the significance to their cultures. What an excellent presentation.  What I found out from it was unique and how they are preserved to help the living communicate with them face to face.
But the significance of my venturing out was going out in a time with pending severe weather warnings.  It seemed fine for a while but as I approached the plaza where the Barnum was, a HUGE wind swept near me. I was near the big pink column of the square that I could cling to. I knelt down on my knees and hug that thing for all it was worth.  I motioned over to two cleaning crew of the bank and they brought me to the bank's lobby so I could wait out the storm.  Then I walked into the Barnum Museum which two years ago got  hit by the big bad 2010 tornado.  I was not going to let it get caught again!!!
Maybe these ventures can be called fool's errands.  But what they do teach about fear is sometimes going out in uncertain times will lead us to a greater appreciation of ourselves.  And when there is no calendar of planned events for the getting there, it involves some sense of trust.  And the need to realize a calculated effort.  But the greatest discoveries have come when there is no clear end in sight. Just a goal to reach. Whether that goal was to reach the moon by the end of 1969 per President Kennedy, or Rev. Martin Luther King's desire to end the civil unrest.

Now, let us take a few moments to discuss amongst each other some of the times in our lives where the circumstances of not knowing the outcome has led us to go on a path which has taught us something about ourselves.

Fear can be described using an acronym FEAR.  Frightened Eager Awareness Reaction
A solution can be termed: Facing each action realistically.
IT is all about how we react to what we are facing.  As I mentioned earlier, it involves a coping mechanism whether it is raising one's hand on a long walk, or looking for our friends on a journey or just kneeling down on the floor until help arrives.

Many in the sporting world have to overcome fear.  Take baseball players for example.  Each time that they get up to bat, they have to be aware of when that small ball approaches them at the plate. They could land on the base in the wrong way or bump into another player or could be hit in the face by the ball. Yet players take on an attitude of facing any of their fears face on and don't let anything get in their way.

And then there are the times when we go out all prepared with life jackets and oars, and an oar lock can break and once has to find his way home with some Yankee ingenuity.

When I was younger, I had many anxieties that caused me to act out in class and take up valuable teacher's time.    I took the time of this fear to constantly learn.  It took a long time to loosen that mantle of fear around my neck.  And sometimes I still carry it around my neck.

I even had fear of how I would react leaving my high school years and approach the larger collegiate world. I had counseling of what fears I faced and how I would handle them. Not much happened then from the counseling.
Now I face a fear of when I am going to get a job and be successful full time again. But I have gained markers along the way where others have granted me the chance to succeed. This happened when Tom Auray as President of Greater Bridgeport Toastmasters saw within me a potential to lead as I was appointed Seargant at Arms to get the room set up and torn down.
Throughout the year, I encouraged the club and advanced through the ranks of speaking and leadership. Then Tom asked me to take on the mantle of the Presidency for the year. I accepted.
This is a time to constantly learn, especially of how to govern a club that is often unpredictable of what to expect at each meeting. But I have been recognized with the ToastStar award at some of our meetings for leadership and motivation.

Fear has been described in the Scriptures as the beginning of wisdom.  Now how can you describe the beginning of wisdom. That sure is something.

Then President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt quoted, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."  This sure teaches us not to fear. It seems kind of silly to fear.  It brings up an interesting riddle that we can discuss amongst ourselves now and that is: Why do we fear at all in the first place?  And how can that fear bring us further along in our paths of personal growth?


No comments: