March 9, 2013
In the past fear has often disguised itself in my life as procrastination and perfectionism preventing me from moving forward. Thankfully, I've worked through fear but still need to fight it off when it attempts to return.
But there is something extremely fascinating about fear. Just as it has the ability to stop a person from moving forward and accomplishing their dreams, it also has the ability to propel someone forward beyond their dreams.
Several years ago, I saw actor, Will Smith on the Oprah show. In the interview, he said that even with the much success he had, he feared that it was not enough, that his money would run out and he would be back where he was before his music and acting career began. This fear made him to want to pursue even greater projects, greater success.
Hearing Will Smith's words made me think that most super successful people are driven by fear. But a fear much different than the fear that keeps people from accomplishing their dreams. This fear drives people towards their dreams because they are afraid of the outcome of not accomplishing their dreams. In this case fear drives them towards success, not away from it.
Typically I wouldn't think that underachievers and overachievers have much in common. But could it be that one of their common denominators is fear? Only their outcomes are very different. One is an underachiever because fear holds her back. The other has attained her dreams because fear has moved her forward.
When fear drives a person towards their dreams, fear is no longer an enemy.
Sure a successful person can over do it and over work herself thinking she will never accomplish enough. And that is where she must take a step back and realize that she is out of control and that fear has gripped her. Just as the person who is gripped by fear so much that she is paralyzed and can't move towards accomplishing her dreams. She also must take a step back and realize fear has gripped her.
When I think of some of the most successful well-known people, I wonder if it is fear that has driven them to success. Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey just to name a few.
Is it possible that they, like Will Smith, are so fearful of not attaining their dreams (or whatever it is they want to accomplish) that they are driven towards and beyond success?
We all have dreams. Some are buried, having never come to the surface. Some forgotten. Some above the surface, ready to be taken to the next step. At some point in life we make a decision, conscious or not, whether or not to pursue a dream. And I believe it is fear that in some way helps us make that decision, one way or the other.
I knew a woman who was a family therapist, a career path that did not seem to fit her. In her personal life, she was on edge and had difficulty managing her emotional life even though she counseled others, trying to help them manage theirs. I noticed how artistic she was when she decided to design greeting cards. She was gifted with artistic talent and was a much different person when creating art. I asked her about it, and to my surprise she told me that when she was much younger she applied to an art school, and on the day of her entrance interview she was so fearful that she didn't go. Fear stopped her from fulfilling her dream to attend art school and a career in art. She went to college later in life, getting the counseling degree.
I'm a late bloomer myself and hadn't yet discovered my dreams and calling when I'd heard this woman's story. Hearing how she'd abandoned her dream encouraged me to seek God in what I was called to do. I would say that this was fear working positively in me. I was afraid I'd too end up miserable if I didn't pursue my dreams.
Fear can have a positive or negative function. If it makes us get off the couch and take steps towards our dreams it's no longer a negative force.
What role is fear playing in your life? Is it keeping you from fulfilling your dreams or is it pushing you to fulfill your dreams?