The Fear Has Big Eyes

Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear. 

– Mark Twain



I waited for the inevitable question.  If your voluntary redundancy goes through, what will you do then?  It was a question I had asked myself many times before submitting the paperwork that would set me free, or so I thought.

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Other questions followed.  What if the business doesn’t work out?  How will you pay the mortgage? Isn’t self-employment risky?  Aren’t you afraid you won’t be able to get enough work?  How will you support your family?

These were the questions I had agonised over for weeks.  I had been conditioned to believe in the perceived security of paid employment.  And yet, this was the third time in 4 years finding myself in a redundancy situation.  How secure was the security of employment?

Henry Ford once remarked that obstacles are the things you see when you take your eyes off of the goal.  There is a tendency to stare at the obstacles and forget the goal and therefore never start moving toward the goal.

As is often the case with change, especially radical change, we have a tendency to focus on all the things that could go wrong.  This I am told is only being sensible.  You have to look at the issue from all sides, so the theory goes.  The trouble is we seldom take a balanced view.  The risk of change takes on monstrous proportions.  We cannot see the forest for the trees.

In Poland they have a saying, “The fear has big eyes.”  It is the imagine fear that often stops us from doing the things we want so desperately to do.  But we are afraid to begin.  A line from Alice in Wonderland always helps me when I find myself faced with the enormity of beginning something new.  The King of Hearts tells Alice to “Begin at the beginning and go until you come to the end: then stop.”  My caveat to that is if you don’t know where the beginning is, then start somewhere, anywhere, as long as you begin.

So whatever task you find yourself faced with right now, lift your sights to the end goal.  Imagine as vividly as you can what the goal will look like, sound like, and feel like when you have attained it.  Hold that picture in your mind, and then take a step, no matter how small, toward your goal.  Then keep on stepping, until you come to the end.