Moving Away From Fear

You broke the bonds and you loosened the chains
You broke the bonds and you loosened the chains

"8. Drive out fear: Encourage effective two way communication and other means to drive out fear throughout the organization so that everybody may work effectively and more productively for the company." -- Dr. Edwards W. Deming

Most of my earlier years were filled with some kind of fear. I don't really remember, but I wonder if I was frightened about being born? For the unknown was especially fearful to me when I was younger. I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid that somebody was hiding in the closet when I went to bed. I was afraid that someone was going to put a ladder against the house and break into the window on the second floor while I slept. When I went to bed, I asked my grandmother if she would please sit there until I was asleep. I also remember ducking my head under the sheets as a precaution for what may be out there. While all the fears I had felt real to me, nothing ever happened. Amazingly, no one ever came out of the closet or put a ladder against the house to climb into the window.

I really don't know why I was so afraid then, but I know that I was not born with those fears.

I was filled with all kinds of fears, which inhibited and restricted my behavior and took so much joy away from my life. Today, they are all gone.

People fear not having enough money, or enough food, or they feel unloved, or they are afraid of having pain, or getting sick, or being fired, or just not being good enough. They might be afraid of their parents, their teachers, their neighbors, etc. All are unnecessary baggage to be dropped.

Believe me, I was the dumbest kid in grammar school. I was the first to sit down during the spelling bees. All of the students would stand up in a circle in class and the teacher would read a word to each one of us to spell. I don't believe I ever got one right. I just had a terrible memory. And without that memory, I never got an "A" in any course in the first 10 years of school. I never felt that any teacher really liked me at all. In retrospect, I don't know why they didn't like me. I was not a bad child. I would never hurt another child. I don't think I had bad breath or body odor, and I came to school every day.

To show you how dumb I was: I never played "hooky," not even once, not one school day in 13 years. I never had the gumption to not show up unless I had a cold. Oh, I was probably the only student back then that loved to stay home sick with a cold. I was very afraid of what my father would do to me if I skipped a day of school. Looking back now, not playing hooky was one of the few things I regret.

When I consider my early life, I can't find anything pleasing to think about in regards to grammar school. Imagine hating school and having to go there every single day! Imagine hating work and having to go there every single day! I lived a life of constant fear: of my teachers, of my father, my brother and so many others. What was I so afraid of?

Why are we afraid of the unknown? Why are so many of us afraid of heights? Why are so many others afraid of flying? I was petrified every time the plane took off or landed or dropped a few feet or even when the plane made strange noises.

Why was I afraid of my teachers and taking tests? Why are we afraid of criticism? And why does the average worker fear making a mistake at work and losing their job?

I am hopeful that by looking at our fears, we can actually embrace their causes and begin to see that most of them are illusions, simply created from our minds. If a bear was in front of you in the forest, you might use the fear response to run as fast as you can in the other direction, but to be in the forest and fear the bear when it's not there can take away the joy of being with nature.
Yes, some fears can come from difficult past experiences that don't leave your memory, but they are events in the past and should be left there.

What can we do to live a more peaceful life?

I want to look at all of the kinds of fears that trouble us in life and show you how to deal with them; to treat them as if they were not real, only an illusion that you are very capable of handling. You can definitely be the master of your own life.

Absolutely the worst year for me was the ninth grade. I remember being in a geography class and dreading every test. I did my homework but during the tests, my mind would go blank, and I just couldn't remember the right answer. No matter how hard I studied, I don't remember ever passing one of those tests. I was so afraid of those tests and what my parents would say when I failed.

One day, fortunately, my fellow student Gary came over and told me he also had a memory problem but he figured out how to pass the tests. I was really curious and asked him how he did it. He said, "I go home and read the assignment and then copy the important points on a little sheet of paper, put the sheet of paper into my shirt pocket and then when I take the test, I also look at the little sheet in my pocket. It works!" Wow, it sounded like such a good idea for me. I went home that night and read the assignment and jotted down on a small sheet of paper those key points, which appealed to me. The next morning, I put the sheet of paper into my shirt pocket. Then when the test was given to us and I thought I had read something about the question, I very carefully opened my shirt pocket and looked inside. The very first time I tried this, the teacher was standing in front of my desk looking down at me.

She grabbed the small sheet of paper and called me a "cheat;" it was if I was a thief and had stolen her "knowledge." Of course, she then told all of the other teachers and my name was "mud" the rest of the school year. I have lived with that guilt for over 65 years with the thought that I did "cheat," but who did I cheat and was what I did really wrong?

No it was not wrong. I just had a poor memory and needed a device to help me remember. Is school a place to test your memory or is it a place to give you the skills to live a great life? What the teacher should have done back then was look at the paper and see if I had captured the important information and if I did then she should have given me an "A" not an "F."