Fear is so much worse than reality. But you knew that, of course. I had such a feeling of liberation after the jump that I began looking at every other area of life where fear had been standing in my way and literally holding me back. The same rings true of rollercoasters – the loops run fast and wild but when you sit it out and keep going despite the fear, there really is a sense of liberation.
Where is fear holding you back in your business or life? Where is it stopping you from making decisions? How does fear keep you from moving forwards?
Sometimes our outlook is exceptionally dark. Agreements fall apart, relationships break down, bank accounts run low and it can be overwhelming. This is where our mettle is tested.
There is a mystical Kabbalistic idea that we can use these experiences to become stronger. When we are being tested, it is as if we are strengthening our vessel. When a sword is being tempered, it has to be subjected to increasingly intense heat and as a result it becomes stronger. The central blade of a Samurai sword is heated, melted, folded and reheated at least 16 times.
The Biblical story of Joseph lands him a place of huge potential fear. Joseph is abducted, thrown into a pit, sold, accused and imprisoned again. Interestingly, the narrative doesn’t describe him as being scared, complaining or depressed. Instead it is business as usual as he enquires after the wellbeing of his fellow inmates. Joseph continues interpreting dreams as he’d while he was still ‘free’; it is business as usual under the given circumstances.
How do you react when things get really tough? We’ve all heard the maxim that “it’s always darkest before dawn”, but there are ways to strengthen ourselves when we are in the midst of that darkness, rather than being crushed by it.
A few years ago I stood on the shore at Cape Town and looked out at Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela famously spent 27 years incarcerated. Surrounded by sea – as islands tends to be – it looked like a lonely place. Mandela is said to have explained that during his imprisonment, he was preparing to either lead his country upon freedom, or die for his beliefs. He faced the fear with strength and conviction.
This week, consider how you are being held back by fear and where you feel imprisoned. We always have a remarkable amount of freedom and possibility within our immediate power, but only if we identify and use it.
If you feel like you’re strapped into a rollercoaster that is climbing and climbing with an imminent drop, then hold on tight and do everything you can to make the most of the ride.
Here’s a cute sign I saw the other day; “Everything will be ok in the end. If it isn’t ok, then it isn’t the end”.
HOW TO APPLY THIS IN THE BOARDROOM: consider how your business or career is being held back out of fear. What are you not doing and what are you not facing?
HOW TO APPLY THIS ON THE YOGA MAT/MEDITATION CUSHION: This week, become aware of what you are not able to do and where you think that you are imprisoned or held back (this could be physical or emotional). Then begin listing your freedoms, counting your blessings, and really start using them to the best of your ability. If your hips are hurting, open up your shoulders. If your shoulders are hurting, breathe deeply. Work with what ya got.
Based on Parshat Vayishlach. Genesis 40:7 where Joseph asks how the Baker & Cupbearer are doing – ‘why the long face?’. It’s pretty amazing when we stop to think about it; things looked pretty awful for Joseph but he really stayed grounded and made the most of what he had. No further commentary needed 😉