Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Conquer fear

I have heard a story about Napoleon. When he was a young boy studying in school, one of his classmates complained to teacher accusing Napoleon of having stolen some article of his. The teacher without asking for explanation started beating Napoleon mercilessly. The boy kept quiet and left when the teacher finally stopped hitting. On the second day the boy who had accused told the teacher that it was not Napoleon but someone else who had actually stolen. Struck with remorse the teacher asked Napoleon why he did not protest his innocence but kept quiet when he was beaten.
“I would have told you had you asked me the question before you started beating. To say that I am innocent in the midst of beating would show that I am afraid of the beating and hence lying. I have no fear of beating or anything. That is why I kept quiet”
It was this fearlessness that took Napoleon to great heights.
Fear is one of the major reasons that weaken our endeavour to overcome challenges. Fear is often irrational and mostly a function of the mind. If I confront a snake on my way, the fear is open and either I run away or get it killed. I can secure my home better if there is a genuine fear of being burgled. I can tackle the fear of examination by preparing thoroughly. Open fears are easily overcome by precautions.
It is the hidden fear in the subconscious of the mind that is difficult to conquer. When I was addressing employees of a company, I asked how many of them can walk on a long 20” concrete square beam kept on the ground. Everyone said they can easily do it and some said they can run too. When I asked them how many can walk if the beam was raised to 100 feet high, none replied. When I prodded for answer, a few said they were afraid of falling. I said it is the same beam on which they could walk and a few could even run but the only change is the location. It is the fear of failure that has impeded them from saying yes. It is the same fear of failure that deters us from taking many steps to grow in life. We drag our feet afraid to take even small risks
Some steps to conquer fear could be as below.
Confront the fear by walking into it. If the fear is irrational and is not open, challenge it. You are afraid of being in the dark or being alone in a house, get into dark or stay alone. You may be afraid initially looking for ghosts or intruders where there are none and after a few times, the fear would vanish. One caveat however, it should not be foolhardy like crossing Niagara
Fear of failure. No man is always successful. Everyone fails. Most reputed batsmen do not score centuries or fifties often and do so only 25% of times. If they do not play for fear of failure they would have never become great. Astronauts go to unknown and untrodden places with tremendous risk but of course after training. Many of the achievements would not have been possible but for their conquering fear.
Be fully prepared.When you undertake a job, be it writing an examination, or starting a business or joining a tournament prepare thoroughly. Get all the facts that you need to know and the practice needed. There is no shortcut to success than hard preparation. Learn the ropes or tricks of trade.
Keep in mind law of averages. I am afraid of sleeping directly under the ceiling fan and would position myself slightly away. My daughter smiled at my fear and asked me that in the several decades of my life how many people have met fatal end by fan falling. I was not aware of even a single case. When one can drive a car despite several accidents happening all around, why not sleep under the fan was her question. The fear vanished.
Try repeatedly. Remember Robert Bruce or Edison or Abraham Lincoln. One or two failures should not deter you rather they should goad you to do better.
Have faith in God. Whether you believe or not in law of karma or the power in your stars, have touching  faith in Providence, whatever your religion may be. This faith will greatly facilitate the conquest of fear. You will never  feel alone in your endeavour.
“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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Life is a long lesson in humility

 Humility is a hall mark of great men. It is only the upstarts that suffer from ego and an inflated opinion of themselves. The greater the position one climbs, humbler one generally becomes. The really great men rarely need the crutches of instant recognition and adulation. Pride is what most men display unwilling to accept what they really are and suffering from illusions of what they really are not. I read that if men were clothed in humility, most would be scantily clad.
 Very few realize that we are in this world for a short period doing what is ordained and instead of taking pleasure in what we do, we attach importance to who did the work. We expect everyone to praise us and our work failing which we nurse bitterness. There is a craving for adulation and recognition in whatever we do. All the anger and frustration would not arise if we are not victims of self pity or self importance.
I have read that the great physicist and mathematician Einstein was embarrassed by the attention and admiration received by him very deservedly at that. He was humility personified when he wrote “There are plenty of the well-endowed, thank God. It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few of them for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them. This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque.” 
Contrast this with our own tin-pot politicians and bureaucrats who believe genuinely that all the good that is happening in our country is because of them and keep harping on it.. There is really no  need to prove ourselves to others. Bragging with pride only diminishes the positive feelings others may have for us. Our work or accomplishments would speak for themselves better.
How many of us respond patiently to ordinary men and women either on the roads or offices when they ask us some questions? We are always in tearing hurry. Humility is genuine concern for others, big or small. Humility means being a better listener, being more patient with others, being helpful to utter strangers and letting others have their glory. Humility is in doing great and small acts of kindness without letting others know. Humility is in making peace with other’s imperfections and being more tolerant.

Humility is like underwear, essential, but indecent if it shows