How We Can Use Fear To Move Us Closer To Our Goals

Fear Says What?

Dave Ramsey, a financial guru, and bestselling author was lecturing to an NFL team and spoke with a few of the players afterward. Risking being tackled to the floor, he asked one of the larger players a question that was laced with a bit of chutzpah:

“There is something I never understood about football players. You are being paid millions of dollars to do one thing: catch a ball. And yet, from time to time you mess up and fumble. If it were me, and I were paid millions to catch the ball, I would make sure I succeeded every single time.”

Thankfully, the player took it well. He laughed while responding:

“You are spot on! The skill level of every NFL player is actually so high that merely catching the football is an easy task. Our hand-eye coordination is so good that we could practically catch a ball in our sleep. If the ball is thrown correctly, there is no reason it should not be caught. One of the major obstacles that can potentially get in the way is fear.”

The player continued to explain to Ramsey that as they are about to catch a ball, players hear the pounding footsteps of their opponents running towards them for the tackle.

Despite already knowing that football players were brimming with strength, Ramsey was shocked by how much these 300-pound men could destroy. They are so fast and strong that the impact of their body running into a car could total it.

The moment they hear these powerful bodies moving towards them, their hearts begin to race with fear, knowing the impact could be painful and destructive. The fear causes them to shift their focus, and by the time they turn their attention back to catching the ball, they have missed it. That one moment of fear can cause them to lose it all.

Fear can be paralyzing, even for the strongest of us. We freeze up and do not take the risks we need to in order to achieve success. However, allowing fear to get the better of us can cost not only success, but it can also undermine self-confidence and the ability to achieve goals.

There is a famous phrase,


All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be overwhelmed by fear.

How do we conquer this all-consuming fear? Focus.

Just as wearing glasses focuses our eyes to perceive an image with better quality, focus in life leads to quality results. Through this, success can be achieved on a spiritual, financial, or even emotional level.

What exactly can we focus on when fear creeps up?

How powerful we are.

At the moment the football player hears his opponent thumping towards him, he forgets his own strength. He forgets that he too is a 300 lb football player. He loses sight of his skill, strength, and years of training.

We too, in moments of fear, forget who we are and that we have a piece of HaShem, the Infinite, inside us.

Many times, when we embark on a new pursuit (physical or spiritual) we race towards our goal, but we fumble with fear.

Our thoughts pace towards us… Can I really be doing this? Who do I think I am?  This will never work… I’ll fail just like last time.

As the footsteps of doubt and uncertainty approach us, we forget who we are, and how hard we have worked. We overlook the fact that we have infinite spiritual capacity with the help of HaShem, who has placed a piece of Himself inside us.

HaShem blew into Adam the breath of life.

(Genesis 2:7)

When a person breathes out, they are exhaling what was once inside their body.  When G-d blew into Adam, the Torah uses the term breath because HaShem was placing what was once inside of him into us.

When you strip away the extraneous, we are G-dly at our core. When we focus on this gift, we can release the shackles of fear that have a firm grip over us.

Pachad, the Hebrew word for fear, is described by the commentaries as a fleeting moment. This passing moment of fear can be used to move us closer to our goals or farther away from them. If we focus the energy of fear, this momentary feeling can bring us to a deeper place of inner strength.

Focus can also help us turn fear into motivation. Fear, although paralyzing at times, can be an incredible motivator. When I know I have a large presentation coming up, rather than worrying about how many people will be in the audience, I use the idea of a large crowd and the initial fear it instills in me as a tool to work harder and prepare even more.

The next time you feel the sensation of fear creeping up on you, try to control it. Use laser focus to harness that energy to motivate you to achieve your goal – rather than fumbling at the finish line.

When we utilize fear to reflect on who we really are and our power bestowed from HaShem, we can confidently remember:

Fear Says What? Fear Says Nothing.

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