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John Fagan

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” - Marcus Aurelius

Let’s talk about fear. Fear is real.

Whether it’s fear of spiders, fear of upsetting off your wife, fear of where your next meal is going to come from, fear of being ridiculed – fear is real. Fear can be completely debilitating.

For me; it’s ‘paralysis by analysis’. Seriously, I will research the heck out something. Get all the information that is available. And then…..I will freeze! I start thinking: “Holy cow. I can’t do this. Who am I to do this?”

I let the fear win. I let the apparitions of what “might come to be” stop me from leaping. I have lost the ability to just JUMP! How many opportunities have I missed out on due to my fear of just going for it – jumping?

Who knows, maybe there is nice, big, fluffy mattress underneath this ledge….you just gotta jump! But, fear stops us.

As a profession I am a swim coach. I will ask my kids “Why are you not trying?!” Their answer always has to do with FEAR. “What if I try and I don’t make it?” “What if things don’t work out perfectly?” “What if she beats me?” “What if I don’t achieve my goals?” Fear. Fear. Fear. Fear.

What we obsess on will come true!

So, if they are obsessing on being afraid of “Not making it” – guess what? They won’t make it! If they are so afraid of things “not working out perfectly”, or “that girl beating them”, or “not achieving their goals” – guess what? Things won’t work out perfectly, that girl will beat them, they won’t achieve their goals!

IT IS OKAY TO TRY – AND – FAIL! I think it’s important that we impart the knowledge in our kids that: Failure Is Good! Start failing now! Don’t be afraid of it. Love it! Roll in it! Eat it for breakfast! Do it now, so that when you become a 47 year old man with two kids and a wife to support you are not paralyzed by fear. You’re used to it. It’s no big deal. So what I have learned is this: You just gotta jump.

You gotta go for it. And, if you fail….well, at least you “tried!” At least you have given yourself the opportunity to succeed. Exercise that “failure muscle” now! Make that thing big & beefy. Develop the ability to get knocked down and get back up!

The funny thing about our fears is that they are learned. Think about it. As a kid you were not freaked out by a spider. You’d squat down to look at it more closely. You poked it. You tried to pick it up. How often do you see a three year old afraid to sing and dance in front of people? The answer is – you don’t. At some point we acquire these fears. You heard your Mom get squeamish around spiders. Maybe somebody said to that three year old, “You can’t sing and dance.” Then we developed this fear. Don’t let other people’s opinions, ideas, beliefs effect your opinions, ideas & beliefs. Don’t allow them to develop fears inside of you!

Which is where we, as Dads, come in. He have got to watch our language. We must use a cognizant steadfastness in making sure we are empowering our kids. It is up to us and our conscious decision making.

So, instead of saying, “Watch Johnny dance…he looks so stupid.” We should choose our wording to be more along the lines of - “Watch my son dance. This kid can BRING IT!” DON’T MAKE JOHNNY SCARED TO DANCE! Let him dance. Let him fall. Let him fail. The best part is…he will get back up…stronger for it.

Encourage experimentation.

Encourage failure.

Encourage them to GET BACK UP AGAIN.