A recent trip to the Nashville Zoo with my granddaughter provided plenty of observations of not only the rare clouded leopard cubs, but also of predictable human nature.
Yes, the little leopard cubs were adorable and served as another reminder that animals often seem
optimistic and excited, whereas humans frequently gravitate to inaccurate negative expectations.
At one exhibit we were watching the zebras and ostriches in a large enclosure. The kind zookeeper offered to let even the small children hold an ostrich egg. These amazing eggs are approximately 24 times the size of a chicken egg and weigh about 3 pounds. But rather than embracing a once-in-a-lifetime experience, almost without exception the parental caution heard was – “Now, don’t drop that egg.”
Just what do you suppose was at the top of all the little children’s minds as they carefully took that big egg into their arms? Were they marveling at the size, wondering how long it would take to hatch, imagining using that egg as a volleyball, or basking in the educational enrichment of the moment? No, I suspect that the thought foremost in their minds was – “If I drop this egg, I’m in big trouble.” I doubt that the teaching experience went much beyond the fear of dropping that egg.
Fear masks our ability to see the world as it really is.
On March 3rd, 1943, an air raid siren sounded in London. The citizens of London knew they were at war with Germany and that a retaliation attack was possible. But with nothing but the sound of the siren, panic and mass hysteria were the result. Fifteen hundred people tried to get down the steps of the Bethnal Green Train Station tunnel for protection. One lady, carrying her small baby, tripped on the stairs and fell. Within a few seconds, 300 people were crushed into the tiny stairwell. Some thought that they were being blocked and became even more aggressive at forcing the massive domino effect. The chaos lasted less than 15 minutes, but 172 people were dead at the scene, with one more dying the next day.
No German bombs fell that day. And just for the record, the largest number killed by any
single bomb in the entire war in England was 68. The crush at Bethnal Green was the largest loss of civilian life in the UK in World War II. But bombs didn’t kill those people – fear did.
"If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him a landlord to a ghost." ~ Lloyd C. Douglas
Perhaps the threat of bombs dropping is a harsh analogy. Fortunately, most of us do not live with that daily possibility.
But even if you’re focused on the fear of “dropping the egg,” you:
- Will not start a business in this economy. It’s too risky.
- Will not buy a house. If I ever get behind on payments, the bank could foreclose.
- Will never love deeply. What if I’m not loved in return?
- Will not give generously. There’s no guarantee of return.
- Will not dream richly. I’ve got to be “practical” and “realistic” in these trying times.
When times are tough, it’s tempting to be fearful. Isn’t it “natural” to fear the company, the economy, the IRS, the creditors, and the terrorists? But fear cripples us. It creates a psychological and spiritual dullness, sucking the life out of our soul and deadening our creativity and initiative. In the Bible, Jesus issued 21 commands challenging us to “not be afraid” or to “have courage.” His second most common command, to “love God and our neighbor,” appears only eight times. It seems he recognized how fear stops us in our tracks, and so the one teaching he gave more than any other was “don’t be afraid.”
If you’re living in fear, you will never reach your full potential. You are stifling your ability to create, earn, give, love, and receive. I know you don’t want to live like that. And even in times like these, you don’t have to wait on “things” to get better. As Brian Tracy says, “Things will get better when you get better.” When you increase your faith, your fear will diminish. When you increase your faith in yourself, your faith in your fellow man, and your faith in God, you will break the chains of fear and release a new season of success in your life. And I’m not talking about some blind faith in which you ignore reality. No, I’m referring to a faith that is grounded in research, supported by a clear plan, and implemented by bold action.
Expect success; eliminate fear. Fear of failure paralyzes action. Confidence is learned by taking specific action. To think confidently, act confidently. Plan to win – prepare to win – expect to win.
People living in fear of “dropping the egg” see limitations more easily than opportunities. At the risk of seeming simplistic, I think we have the choice. If we focus on the “bad economy” or our own inadequacies, we will have fear, doubt, and failure as our constant companions. But when we focus on the new opportunities and our unique strengths, we will see courage, confidence, and success show up from all sides.
Have you ever noticed that people who are quick to tell you about their limitations are very slow in seeing their opportunities – even if the opportunities are obvious to others around them? We “see” what we focus on.
"Whether You Think You Can or Can't
" ~ Henry Ford
Most people have never held an ostrich egg. They base their experience on routine exposure to chicken eggs. And we all know chicken eggs are fragile and break with the tap of a spoon. Most people don’t know that an ostrich egg has a thick shell that can only be cracked with a hammer or drill. With the exception of the hyena, no predators are able to penetrate the ostrich egg. Thus, based on limited experience, the perception of most parents (teachers, bosses, politicians) is that the “risk” of holding an ostrich egg is much greater than it actually is.
Maybe the people holding you back have also had limited experience with the new possibilities. Maybe they’ve experienced too much pain, shortage, and despair. They may be watching too much news on TV. They don't know the thrill of living out their passion. Don’t let their fear deprive you of completing your "bucket list." Go ahead, take that trip, write that book, open that ice cream shop, or buy that little house you’ve been wanting.
And if you drop the egg, call 20 of your friends and enjoy an incredible omelet.
"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do." ~ Pope John XXIII