Fear Is Our Enemy
Fear can sometimes play a disproportionate role in your life and in your decision making. You may make choices, or worse, not make choices for the sole purpose of avoiding situations that cause worry or fear.
When fear takes up an unhealthy amount of space in your life, it can suppress your desire to learn new things. It can intimidate you into believing that you may not be up to facing the challenges that you inevitably experience when living your life. It can keep you from meeting new people and it can keep you from taking the necessary steps you need to take in order to better understand your environment and everything it comprises.
Fear can flat out paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward, from acting on your dreams, and from pursuing the things that you would otherwise be passionate about. Fear can present a very real barrier to many of the key components of a fulfilling life, such as happiness, peace of mind, enjoyment, enthusiasm, and love.
Today, possibly more than ever before, fear of each other is front and center. As a citizen of our country, you may fear citizens of a foreign country. As a believer of a certain religion, you may fear those who follow a different religion. As a resident of one block, you may fear residents on the next block. As a member of one race, you may fear those that are members of another race. You may spend time worrying about the behavior of others and its potential impact on you.
Many of these fears are uniquely human, meaning that they do not exist anywhere else in nature. Humans have the unique ability to apply logic and reason beyond what exists instinctually or innately. Because human minds and emotions have developed further and faster than any other living beings on the planet, humans operate with greater awareness.
These traits can work against you, as well, for the simple reason that greater awareness of yourself and your surroundings can quickly lead to the realization that there are also many things that you do not know nor understand. Fear of the unknown is natural. At a minimum, it is natural to approach the unknown with caution and prudence.
It is at this point, however, that the divide can occur and the real danger exists. If you recognize what you do not know or understand and move forward, regardless, in an effort to learn something, make a new friend, or gain some experience then it is likely that you are in control of your fear and you are not letting it rule the decisions you make.
If fear prevents you from trying to at least gain a clearer understanding of what is unknown to you, then fear will define your relationships and you will be limited to the acquaintance of those you know well and believe that you fully understand. Fear wins and you lose. We all lose.
In my profession, my number one objective is to proactively identify the needs of the credit union and then to take action that ensures we effectively meet those needs. It is a dynamic environment so I am consistently evaluating and re-evaluating the actions we have taken and the steps we still need to take.
As you can imagine, a huge part of this process is identifying the appropriate human resources that are essential to meeting these needs and making sure that they are in a situation that highlights their individual strengths and puts them in the best possible position to succeed personally, professionally, and organizationally.
If I set out to achieve this objective every day without an open mind and a willingness to meet new people, different people with different ideas and different life stories and experiences, our business would quickly become one dimensional and we would be unable to relate to our clientele, clearly not a winning strategy for success.
At each moment in my life when I have taken the time to get to know someone or to try something new, I have always gained from the experience. I do not mean to imply that I like everyone that I have ever met or enjoyed every experience that I have ever had, but I can tell you with certainty that I came away from each instance with more knowledge and a greater understanding. Even if the knowledge I gained was of somebody or something that I wanted no part of, I was more informed and I certainly was no longer fearful of whatever had previously been unknown to me.
Complete freedom from fear is probably unrealistic and it may not even be desirable. A little dose of fear helps to keep you grounded. Fear brings rationalization into the decision-making process. It is always important to consider the negative side of any choice before it is made and rational fear usually comprises a healthy portion of any potentially negative result.
For instance, fear has a rightful place in your mind before you decide that you are going to bungee jump off that bridge. Fear belongs on the handlebars in front of you before you decide to crank your motorcycle up to 100 miles per hour.
Your task is to make sure that the fear you recognize and acknowledge in the choices that you make is proportionate to the decisions you consider and the consequences you face. You cannot let fear control you or divide you.
Armed with the knowledge that fear often is a byproduct of what you do not know or understand, perhaps you can all take a small step forward if you are willing to take another look at a situation, a person, or an event that has been the source of that fear.
Like anything else in your life, once fear is properly identified and isolated, it is more likely to stay in its place so that it cannot unnecessarily prevent you from living your life on your terms.
In addition to identifying and understanding fear, you are probably already aware that you will also need a dose of courage to properly handle it as you progress through life. I have included one of my favorite quotes as something else to think about. You can find it in Gold Star Families Memorial and Park, the nation’s finest tribute to Police Officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Courage isn’t freedom from fear, it is being afraid and moving forward anyway.”
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union