Does fear exist? Is it just in our heads or a perception of reality?

Why does fear rock our confidence, stifle our imagination, and discourage us from having a spirit of adventure? Is it even necessary to have such fears and how do we overcome this?

Fear of the unknown

A few months ago, I was preparing for a presentation for a mentoring programme. I was excited, had loads of ideas and was ready to pounce on the laptop. However, I experienced the ‘blinking cursor’ moment and everything I typed didn’t feel right.

The sense of self-doubt engulfed over me and I felt incompetent. As I was preparing the document, I became worried as to whether the information I was going to share was common sense knowledge. While I had all my content planned out , I kept deleting every entry that I made. I thought to myself – this does not make any sense. What’s happening?

It was a week to the big event and I suddenly had anxiety pangs and fear of the ‘unknown’.

So, I decided to spend the weekend with my family at a recreation park waterfall. It turned out to be the day I had a lesson about courage and facing fear from my six-year old’s little adventure at the waterfall.

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Evaluate your options available and make the move.

Evaluate your options and take the first step

My son enjoys the outdoors – going to the beach, pool, and waterfalls. It gave him the freedom to enjoy nature and splashing in the water. That day, his spirit of adventure and determination became my motivations. He proved that with proper planning, conducting situation analysis and relying on experience, strengths and aptitude, we will meet our goals. No doubt, we will face obstacles along the path, including fear. However, until we have exhausted all options, we should carry on in our pursuits.

The waterfall located at my mom’s village in Gunung Pulai, Johor Bahru in Malaysia, is one of the most beautiful nature parks, with its lush greenery and beautiful surroundings.

At the waterfall, there is a higher ground where a square plank is constructed for children to rest after their swim. It is also used as a diving board for them to do free style jumps into the water. Irfan was eyeing to reach the plank on his own.

However, to get to that higher ground, Irfan needrd to pass through a short distance of rock-filled stream. 

As he was making his way, I watched his every move as I was concerned over his safety. I recalled the last visit where he was afraid of moving around in the shallow water to get to the plank, probably due to lack of confidence.

From the bench I was sitting, I saw Irfan slowly take his steps.

He started by swimming to reach a big rock and standing from a distance, evaluated how far the plank was. He scouted the area and considered the various pathways to get to the plank. He eventually chose one path, and cautiously, moved along the slippery rocks. When he hits a roadblock, he stopped, looked around, evaluated his other options, and maneuvered around it instead of turning back, even if the distance may be a little longer.

For a six-year-old, Irfan is robust and a strong boy. He used his powerful arms to grip the surface of the rocks and carefully glided his feet under water to reach his destination. Along the way, he lost his grip several times and slipped into the shallow water but he stood up in glee, laughing at his own misadventure and continued. Once he reached the plank, he pushed his body up and laid on it to catch his breath. Few minutes later, he stood up, raised his arms in excitement, took a few steps back, ran forward and dived into the waters.

I watched with pride and cheered him on his achievement. Then, it hit me. My son did not allow fear to stop him from reaching his destination. He seized the opportunities, took time to rest, recover and reaped his fruit of labour.

Does he not fear?

I think he does but he decided to channel his thoughts on the end goal.

Your super powers

The experience made me realise that fear does exist, but we should not ignore it. Instead, we should face it head-on and not quit. My son taught me that just like him, I have what it takes to reach my goal – my experiences, my wealth of knowledge and advice that will benefit my mentees.

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I thought about how silly it was for me to even consider stopping something from happening when it has not even started. So, I decided to work on my slides and felt better when I didn’t judge myself. A week later, I hacked the presentation and got great feedback. I crushed ‘fear’.

Making fear your super power is a big deal as an entrepreneur as well. We will come across days of anxiety, self-doubt or even regrets. I guess it is pretty normal to have days of uncertainties but do not let it rule you and make you turn back even when you have not started taking the first step.

On this first week of the new year, I leave you with this quote to reflect. May the force be with you.

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Have a great year ahead my friends.