Anything in the world is possible. But there is always one thing that stops us from doing it: fear. This can be the fear of starting a new business, the fear of public speaking, or even just the fear of something unknown. Fear often happens when part of us tells us to go for it, and another part of us tell us to be careful of the consequences. Feeling the effects of these consequences can be enough to stop us from taking action all together. But one thing that cancels out all fear is having knowledge of what you’re going up against and then taking action.
For example, when I was younger, one thing that I was always afraid of was math. In middle school, I loved to being creative. I was a person who thought spontaneous and did things on the fly. I remember I got an A in English class for making a Hobbit board game out of Play-Doh – an experiment we did for our final project. But when high school came, it was time to be more serious, and the first serious math class I had was algebra. Although this may have been a very easy subject for many people at the time, I struggled in it.
I realized that I struggled because I was afraid of what was going to be on the test – whether this was adding fractions, multiplying polynomials, or solving linear equations. My dad didn’t want to see me start off high school bad; after all, it was the start of my future. In order to get over this, I remember for two semesters straight, we would sit down everyday in my room and study math problems for three hours straight. It was crazy. Sometimes one unknown problem would take us up to an hour to finish it – the first of 30 problems. But after that, I never feared an algebra test. I aced the tests and got the highest grade in class at the end of the year, even with the option of just getting half of the answers right for the final in order to get an A-. This was how important having knowledge was for getting rid of the fear I had.
Going way back to when I was a child now, another fear I had was piano recitals. They were nerve-racking to just visualize – the fact that you would be put in a silent room surrounded by an audience eager to listen to your best work. I remember constantly telling myself, “What if I forget the notes?” or “What if I play a key wrong?” If any of these things were to happen, the music would sound incomplete, and even awful. The worst possible scenario I thought of was just my mind going completely empty and not being able to play music at the day of the recital. That thought produced all sorts of awkward tension and anxiety.
See, the thing is knowledge is important to conquer our fears, but it’s not the full equation. When doing math tests, I still needed to write the answers on the test form and do in 50 or so minutes. In piano recitals, not only did I need to memorize the music, but I needed to press the keys that corresponded to each note. When I was by myself in my room, I would blank everything out and focus on my fingers going through each note in rhythm. I did this so often that it just became natural. On the day of the recital, the fear was still somewhat there, but not so much. I had already practiced this moment a hundred times at home. As it was my turn to come up, I walked up and sat on the seat. Dozens of family members’ eyes were on me. My piano teacher signaled for me to begin, and I just did it. The last thing I remember was a round of applause.
When you add knowledge and action together, an amazing result happens. You gain a certain power in you that knows that if you were to face a challenge that you were scared of before, you would be able to fly through it the second, third, or fourth time around. In fact, you might even enjoy the challenge because you get better and better at it each time. Some people call this “experience” and others call it “skill”. But the truth of the matter is experience or skill comes from going through fear, but not going through it blindly. It means going through it with immense knowledge of what you’re dealing with and constant repetitive actions of what you will have to go through. At the end of this process, fear becomes nothing.
How have you overcome fear in your life?
Photo by: nayukim
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9 thoughts on “Knowledge Plus Action Minus Fear”
Hell yeah! Hulbert, this sounds like an equation for success. I think every person’s failure in achieving something can basically be narrowed down to a lack of the right strategy (aka knowledge), of right action (or just the lack of action) or lack of belief (aka fear). Makes a lot of sense ;)
Hey Eduard, I totally agree. Failure is often a lack of fundamental principles of success which is knowledge and action. Believing in yourself is also another success principle to help us get over fear. Thanks for sharing this. :)
Before I continue with any other comments, I just wanted to thank the host for letting me guest post on this fantastic blog. Thank you, Peter.
You’re very welcome. I enjoyed reading your experience overcoming fear – thank you for sharing it with readers of The Change Blog.
Hi Hulbert. Good to see you over here on this side of town. I couldn’t agree with you more that repetitive action is the key to tackling that fear. It also appears that we have a lot in common. In school, I actually LOVED math; however, in college, I was also nervous during piano recitals. One thing that I noticed that may have helped you was the fact that you had someone who worked with you with your problems and your ability to conquer that fear of solving math problems. I was one who lacked support and learned to tackle problems on my own, which has its pros and cons. But with consistency and support either from yourself or someone else, overcoming that fear will be a breeze.
Hi Patrice, wow, we do have a lot in common – math and piano, except we developed them at different areas of our time. I’m glad I was able to have my dad help me out, even though doing the problems was something very tedious and frustrating. In the end, he helped me overcome my fears. But there are pros of working with yourself; it’s more of a challenge. I’m glad you were able to do that. Thanks for sharing your side of the story.
Nice post. Knowledge and action are definitely a powerful combination. A recent example for me personally is attempting to create the vision of the perfect site design in actual code – even though I had no idea how to. After a few days of learning how to use CSS, PHP etc I’m well on my way to achieving my vision with just a little knowledge and action.
Nice job Craig. CSS and PHP are often very hard for people to master. The code is scary to look at sometimes. I admire your ability to pursue this vision of yours. I think with more knowledge and action, you’ll eventually be able to make that site of yours happen. Thanks for sharing this.
I was fearful of releasing my book “The Disappearance Of Hate”. I didn’t know what kind of reception I would get. I kept delaying it until someone asked me about it. I realized it didn’t make sense for me to keep procrastinating so I just did it. It was simple.