Saturday, May 12, 2012

Refuse to be Afraid

Although I accept their necessity, I am disturbed and dismayed by new onerous airport security procedures that force millions of people to alter their lives in response to new terrorist threats. It's discouraging that ten years after 9/11, small groups of fanatics can still affect our lives so dramatically through fear.

 Tim Wrightman, a former All-American UCLA football player, tells a story about how, as a rookie lineman in the National Football League, he was up against the legendary pass rusher Lawrence Taylor. Taylor was not only physically powerful and uncommonly quick, but a master intimidator.

 Looking young Tim in the eye, he said, "Sonny, get ready. I’m going to the left, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me."

 Wrightman coolly responded, "Sir, is that your left or mine?"

 The question froze Taylor long enough to allow Wrightman to block him perfectly.

I like this story because it shows how much we can accomplish if we refuse to be afraid. Fear -- whether it’s of pain, failure, or rejection -- is a toxic emotion that creates monsters in our mind that consume self-confidence and intimidate us from doing our best or sometimes even trying at all.

 Shakespeare’s observation that "a coward dies a thousand deaths" reminds us of the heavy toll we pay to fear. I’m not talking about just physical fears. I’m talking about the fear to form a committed relationship, to try new things, and to cut the ropes that tether us to comfort and security so we can pursue our dreams.

 When fear makes us prudent, that’s fine, but if we surrender to our fears and let them immobilize or torment us, we sentence ourselves to an emotional prison. The antidote is courage. The good news is, it lies within all of us, just waiting to be summoned.

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