Nick was a strong, healthy railroad yardman who was consistently reliable on the job; however, he was also a devout pessimist who always seemed to fear the worse.
One summer day the crews were let off early in recognition of a foreman’s birthday. As the workmen left, Nick was accidentally locked in a refrigerator boxcar that was in for repairs.
He panicked. He banged with his fists until they were bloody and shouted until his voice went hoarse. Nick reasoned that the temperature in the car had to be near freezing and that, if he didn’t get out, he would freeze to death. Shivering uncontrollably, he wrote a final message to his wife on a cardboard box that read: “So cold. Body’s getting numb. If I could just go to sleep. These may be my last words.”
The next day, the crew opened the boxcar doors and found Nick’s body. An autopsy revealed that his body had all the signs of someone who froze to death. This was puzzling, however, because the car’s refrigeration units were completely inoperable. The temperature inside was around 61 degrees and there was plenty of fresh air. What killed Nick was his perception of reality and his expectations that the worse would happen. And it did.
As tragic as the story is, it does illustrate that many people allow their fears to become self-fulfilling prophecies. In the Bible, Job is quoted, “The thing that I feared most has come to past.” How true it is with many of us.
An acronym for FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Nick believed the refrigerated boxcar was operating and that he would freeze to death. To him, this became reality. Fear clouded his judgment and immobilized him.
Everyone is afraid at one time or another. Yet, those who have the courage to face their fears will take action in spite of their doubts and uncertainty. You see, courage is not the lack of fear. Courage is the control and mastery of fear.
Actor Glenn Ford is quoted, “If you do not do the thing you fear, then the fear controls your life.”
You develop courage when you force yourself to take action in the face of fear. So, go for that big sale. Try a different approach in marketing. Stop taking “no” for an answer. Stand up and try again. Remember, success is getting up one more time than you fall.
The bottom line? Recognize your fears, but don’t resign yourself to them. As Emerson wrote, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
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