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Most things have a good use and a bad one too, but fear generally gets a bad reputation. Usually the feeling of fear is a reflection of your couple of billion years of adaptation to the life your genes’ previous incarnations survived. It’s a reminder to you of dangerous situations that you are involved in at present, especially potentially life-threatening ones. As a rule, with such a long record of success, nature is right and it would be much better for you to obey her advice. Those who didn’t respond to their genetic codes warnings have been eliminated from the gene pool, and have been recycled to other uses. From that point of view we humans should be more careful of dangers than our distant ancestors because of our greater intelligence. There’s no way of knowing, but if our arboreal ancestors were jumping around in trees like monkeys, then I would assume we would develop a good skill for determining the details of just where these kinds of dangers bring on serious accidents.

Our modern human world has few of these kinds of experiences but we still retain an inborn fear of heights. That fear isn’t actually of heights in a linear way. When I was flying I don’t remember the slightest feeling of height anxiety, but when I am up twelve feet high on a wobbly ladder there is a noticeable tenseness that flows throughout my body, a queasy feeling. That is a natural fear, and I can control it and concentrate on fine details of the task at hand, but it usually requires some thought. I came across a literary bit on fear in the book Dune, by Frank Herbert.

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.

Quite frankly I think that is the statement of a person wasting his mind’s energy on the wrong thoughts and those thoughts will frequently precede failure. What winners are doing in the moments before their actions isn’t anything like those glowing words, rather their minds are focused precisely on their immediate goals and they are placing their mind and body into the physical and mental state for interacting with the problems they will encounter. They are looking at where they want to be going and over the next few moments will be automatically adapting their actions to get to where they are looking. Watch gymnasts or ski jumpers or other successful athletes in the seconds just before they do their routine, and you will not hear them reciting the above quotation, nor will they be fearful, they will be focused on what they are doing and doing it right.

Right action requires right thoughts and right training.

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