Sunday, October 11, 2009

Economics @ Home © Volume 1 Issue 12

Fear and success

These two concepts seem like complete opposites and normally, we would never even think of them as being related. However, in this issue, I would like to perhaps show you that they are a lot closer than you think.

Typically, fear is associated with negativity, and success, otherwise. That is why we tend to think of them as opposites. So to facilitate today's argument, let us first try to let our mind grasp what we can about this emotion called fear. As we know, emotions are matters of the heart, and is often a difficult concept for the mind to digest. Nonetheless, for any argument to be meaningful and hopefully rational, it should probably include contributions of the mind. Fear is an intuitive and familiar concept, so to give synonyms of fear would be totally unproductive. However, I will give an example of how fear is often thought to be the nemesis of success to provide some context to the issue.

The most common feelings of fear is in the form of fear of disappointment. Someone once told me that when one has very high expectations of oneself, it is inevitable to fear disappointment. So to avoid disappointment, one should therefore not try. Now, why is disappointment bad? Obviously I am not going to try to argue that disappointment is not a bad thing. However, one can easily imagine being of ripe age and sitting back and wondering if one could have lived life differently and perhaps achieved more. It would probably dawn upon you that you did not achieve what you set out to do and probably die disappointed.

While this is all sad and demoralizing, there is another way to think about this. Imagine that despite your fear of disappointment, you persevered long and hard and never gave up. Perhaps you might not have achieved what you set out to do. Nonetheless on your deathbed, there will be almost no room to think about "what if I tried harder, could I have achieved more?". This argument tends to suggest that we should put aside our fears and go forward with no abandon. This tends to give us a negative conotation to the feeling of fear.

I believe that it is actually quite the opposite. When we feel fear, it means is that we are close. Imagine studying for your final exam. You have spent hours and hours trying to wrap your mind around the dynamics of electron spin (How does one even tell if electrons are actually spinning?). Then days or hours before the exam, we have this feeling of nervousness and fear. What if we fail or don't do well? Ever wondered why we feel that way? One can easily cite the more obvious reason of the desire for success. Obviously everyone wants to do well. But we wonder how some of our friends keep so calm about the whole thing? We often feel envious of such people. We can't help but wonder, do they want to succeed less than we do? The answer is no. Who would want to fail? The cause of the difference in reaction is the difference in the amount we have invested in towards our pursuit of success. I would like to share a different line of thought that one can take. The reason we feel the fear of failure is because we have invested too much. We have studied for too long and too hard. It is as if we have already ran 9.75 miles of a 10 mile race. Would you give up if you were that close to success?

This is the exact same reason we see grown men cry on ESPN. I am talking about the likes of NFL linebackers, real macho men (as opposed to the pussies like Cristiano Ronaldo who cries about being given a love tap). The reason they feel this fear is because they are just that close to sucess.

So I hope that the next time you encounter any doubts towards your ability to achieve what you desire, remember how much you have invested. When you know how much you have put in, there is simply no turning back. They only way is forward. Let your fear drive you towards sucess.

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