Fear: The Limiting Factor to Success and Breakthrough

‘It is the small doubts of timid souls that accomplish their ruin. It is the narrow vision, the fear and trembling hesitation that constitute defeat.’ – Elizabeth Jennings

Fear, according to Encarta, is the emotion caused by threat from some form of harm, sometimes come as symptoms of anxiety and thereafter prompts one to make a decision to fight the threat or to escape from it. This can also manifest as a phobia. Phobia is an excessive or enduring fear of defined objects or situations that comes with our daily lives or activities. People with phobia always try their best to avoid their source of fear.
Everyday phobias include acrophobia (fear of height), Claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places), Orphidiophobia (fear of snakes), Zoophobia (fear of animals), Aichinophobia (fear of sharp pointed objects). Others include Triskaidekaphobia (fear of number 13), Homophobia (fear of homosexuals), Genophobia (fear of sex), Ailurophobia (fear of cats), Amaxophobia (fear of driving), Clinophobia (fear of going to bed), Cynophobia (fear of dogs), Hematophobia (fear of blood), Thanatophobia and Phobophobia (fear of fears/phobias).

It is worthy of note that everybody fears one thing or the other, right from objects to imaginary things, things we can see or not see, things we can hold or not, even the things we can control or not. It isn’t a problem to fear or be scared of anything; it actually becomes a malady when we do nothing about the things we fear. Some students have even gone to the level of fearing some subjects they think it is difficult even while some found it easy; some refused to make it big in business just because of fear, they couldn’t take risks and allowed opportunity to slip away from them.
According to Edmund Burke, ‘The concessions of the weak are the concessions of fear’. Fear has many times proved to be our undoing. What we fear most times comes to meet us or we only come about them again because we will never pass that particular stage. ‘He who runs from battle only lives to die another day’. One thing that should always ring in the mind of the fearful is that ‘you will never pass the stage you are scared of, it remains there and you become stagnant’.

According to Lee Yuan Kew, ‘Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli is right; if you are not feared, then you are meaningless’. Whenever you are in fear of a thing, it shows that you respect such thing. However, the thing should not control you. Right from the risks to be taken in business, to that subject that looks daunting, these things only scare us because we allowed them; even if we lost against them, it becomes experience. Your Achilles heel is the most dangerous part of your life.

Achilles Heel
 According to the Greek mythology, Achilles is the greatest of the Greek warriors during the Trojan War. He was believed to be the son of the sea nymph Thetis and his father, Peleus was the king of the Myrmidons of Thessaly. Fate later prophesied that Achilles would die in the Trojan War and the mother, Thetis decided to make her son Achilles immortal. Then she took her to the River Styx and bathed him there with 99% of his body in water, except for the heels that the mother used to hold him while dipping him. The waters made Achilles very powerful and invulnerable and the word Achilles heel became popular and termed as someone’s or something’s weakness.


Thetis, the sea nymph dipping Achilles in the River Styx to make him immortal; Only the heel by which she held him was not touched by the waters and was his weakest (Achilles Heel).
Achilles Death
Since Achilles became immortal due to the protection his mother did for him in the River Styx, he hardly could be defeated, arrested killed or conquered. Unfortunately, what you fear most or is your weakest would actually be the one to end you. In the picture below, Achilles is attacked with an arrow exactly on the heels he has always protected. This was how Achilles eventually died even as a known and popular great warrior and so much for his abundance of powers.

Achilles death

What to do to Overcome Fear
It will be like a rambling bell if we do not develop strategies to conquer what we fear. One of the working methods is Curiosity, According to James Stephens, ‘Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will’. Has it ever occurred to you what will happen if you took that particular business decision or the risk attached to it. Has it also mattered to you that you will be proud of yourself if you passed that subject you termed devilish.

One thing that should be at the back of your mind is that your Achilles heel only has a particular time to sustain you before it exposes you. Why don’t you wisely take that decision now and damn the consequences. Try and imagine yourself being successful after you took the decision or having an ‘A’ after you faced that subject that keeps molesting you.

One other method worthy of note is to ‘shift your strength and concentrate on your weakness’. Yes, de facto, this is the best method to conquer fear. If you are weak in a particular subject, English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or thereabout, then it is time to read and study it more than the other objects you know. 

If you studied the chemistry you understood already two hours daily, then that Physics you are weak at should consume six hours of your time daily. Before you know it, you are out of the shadow of that intimidating subject and you are now a master of it.

Please take the decision now, the risk is worth taking, it leads to experience if it fails and success if it works.

In conclusion, always delineate the things you should not do because of fear and those you should not do because they are wrong. Adam...said 'If you want to do something, then if your hearts are agitated, do not do it, for when I drew near to eating from the tree my heart was agitated at eating.' - Muhyid-Din Abu Zakariyya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi.
Some things are morally and legally wrong, if you do them; you face the law and suffer the consequences. Don’t because you want to prove to be a man and violate the laws of the land, you will also be judged by the laws of the land; apply wisdom in all you do. The things you fear that hinder your progress are the things you should fight to conquer, and not the things you want to do to show yourself.
Don’t protect or nurture your fear; else, it would grow so big and become insurmountable which would later be the one to end you.

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