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


  1. Very helpful and practical! I have conquered all fears that were pulling me down, there is no point living a life with fears, I feel. The worst fear I had was the fear for lizards! I learned to confront them and learned to eliminate them( though the procedure still gives me shivers :-))..

  2. Insightful indeed! With Fear mistakes are abound. I believe in 'Why fear when your conscience is clear'

  3. Very nice. I liked the way you have analysed and given steps but still I do not think I have the courage to step on to the escalator alone :P

  4. This is very practical, but overcoming fear is a tough job in itself :) loved the story about Napoleon :)

  5. Courage is the most important thing to have in a person. More than optimism also. This story of Napoleon is inspiring.

  6. Never knew about Napoleon's story. Great points here.
    Who has the courage to walk on that plank at a height? Not me either :)
    Mandela's quote is so apt.

  7. Mandela's quote is very true. I didn't know the Napolean story either. Nice one. My aunt also was afraid of sleeping under the fan. I fear to wash clothes if the place is near the coconut tree.. I would think the coconut would fall on my head. Not now, though.

    Nice write up!

  8. Walk into the thing that fears you.
    This was a lovely one yet again.

  9. I would be very interested to know where does the quoted story end and ..... where does your writing begin. Because I know that you can share good wisdom yourself.

    Blessings, KP!

  10. Amazing story and a powerful message there.
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. Namaste...
    they are also horrific lived realities

  12. The story of Napoleon was not known to me before !! Those were some great tips you shared. Hope I would be able to use them in overcoming some of my fears !!

  13. Very true. We first need to understand our fears to be able to conquer them. Thanks for sharing the story on Napolean.

  14. Very inspiring write. Fear is the greatest foe of oneself.. The lessons given are practical and worthy..Babies and small children would be our masters in this venture who have limited knowledge about the negative side of something and thus a little sense of fear, perhaps they feel the vast world as another womb.. I remember the movie "A baby's day out".. Thank you for the post..:)

  15. It's the fear of uncertainity that scares me sometimes. Indeed curbing down fears would actually make us walk in path that might be correct.

  16. That was a motivating post, KP!! Great pointers! Very articulately written. I had read Napoleon's story earlier. We all know, the good teachers open doors instead of instilling fear...
    All throughout our childhoods, we were fearful about a thousand different things (like our first day of school for example) and thankfully with our parents help/guidance, we successfully tackled all those fears and came out relatively unscathed...
    This reminds me of Tagore's most famous song..."chitto jetha bhoi sunno" [ Where the mind is without fear] Read the full poem here...
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.

  17. If we had no fear, there would be no 'development'. All the development activities, IMO, are the result of fear. Fear that we might be worser off than our ancestors!

    Destination Infinity

  18. Positive post! Yes, fear is conquerable by dealing with it or challenging it but it takes that one step forward to start with...which needs faith/belief in oneself .

  19. Replies
    1. Thanks.Pl go to random thoughts for short stories.Click the link on right hand side top

  20. Truly inspiring and motivating... This took me back to the days when I was pursuing CA... There was fear of failure within and also the world constantly reminded that... But I was determined to pass and also face failure if it hits me after giving my best...

  21. There is no shortcut to success than hard preparation. Indeed!
    Inspired me for sure.