“Fear is the mind killer” is a fairly well known Frank Herbert quote, the concept of which plays a central role in the Dune saga. The complete quote is, “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Fear is all pervasive in our modern society. It is much like a disease of the mind that keeps us in a perpetual state of dis-harmony and dis-comfort. Fear blinds us to the truth and clouds our perceptions. Fear causes us to conduct ourselves in ways in which we would not be, were it not for the fear. Fear is also a common emotion that becomes like an old friend who we have long since grown tired with, and yet have learned to tolerate as a steady constant in our lives. Most importantly for the conversation of balance in life and work, is that fear obliterates any hope of unencumbered intuition.
Fearing the heat of the stove is a healthy fear in that it prevents us from burning ourselves. Or walking along a trail with a steep drop off on one side we heighten our concentration for good reason. Or driving on a windy road at night in the rain we grasp the steering wheel with two hands and pay close attention. These could be considered healthy fears, but they could also be viewed as not being fears at all, but rather just having good common sense.
In 2006 I was held up by knifepoint—in that moment I was afraid. In 2009 when my wife Maria and I came together romantically I was afraid. That fear was about the unknown and the requirement of me to fully open and bare my heart to a woman I was still just getting to know. In 1994 I was in Southern California at the time of the Northridge earthquake, staying just a few miles from the epicenter of a 6.7 quake—this was most likely the only moment of shear terror in my life.
Fear of economic insecurity is most likely the most common fear we all have, next to the fear of death or of being alone. When companies perceive a significant loss of revenue or market share the common reaction is fear, and the result is fear-based decision-making such as layoffs or drifting from the original vision of the company. In our careers it causes us over an over again to compromise our true calling and take those jobs and clients that we think we need to pay the bills, but that do not truly fulfill us. In my own case the fear of economic insecurity kept me in a well paying job with a company with a toxic culture for eleven years. Then I jumped ship to another company with an equally toxic culture for another three years before launching my career in a completely different direction and doing things like writing Shift: Indigenous Principles for Corporate Change, writing this weekly blog, and putting on culture workshops.
It’s been said so many times by so many thought leaders, mystics, motivational theorists, and highly successful people, that to be most successful in life we must do the things that we feel the greatest passion for. That means following our hearts, not the prescribed concept of what we think we should do, but rather what we feel we must do.
It is fear that constricts this process. It is fear that clouds our ability to tap into the creative flow, the inner intuitive voice that whispers in our ear calling us to a higher purpose or a greater calling. Frank Herbert said it so well when he said, “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.” This means that we have to listen to the whispering voice driving us towards a life of greater meaning, to be willing to feel the fear, but to move toward our dreams all the same.
Then Herbert said, “And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Once we have faced down our fear and followed our inner intuitive guidance, only the truth of who we truly are will remain.
Can you join with me and follow your calling? I think the world needs your authentic self to come forward. At a minimum, the world will be a more interesting place for you having done so.