Tonight I had the pleasure of listening to Borge Ousland speak in the NCI. Borge is a what you’d call a legend, National Geographic reckons he’s “arguably the most accomplished explorer alive” and I’m not going to argue. He has a string of polar firsts stretching back over the last 15 years to his name so he wasn’t exactly stuck for material. In a lecture that seemed like a breeze through several epic expeditions each worthy of an hour and a half in their own right, there was one sentiment that he expressed several times which struck a chord.
He spoke of how he invariably spent the first few days of each expedition wrestling with demons, and how he had to battle to differentiate rational and non-rational fears. Rational fears were the ones that were objective, present and real such as a polar bear attack or falling into the sub-zero artic ocean. Non- Rational fears were subjective and imagined. He was, in a sense, trying to segregate the internal fears, which we should aim to control(non rational) and fear of things external that are beyond our powers and we should try to avoid.
This got me thinking to how much non-rational fear holds us back. How many times have we not done something because we were afraid of failing, or of looking silly or not swimming with the current. How many times have we let our non-rational fears get in the way of our hopes and dreams and more importantly divert attention from things that we really should have a healthy dose or rational fear of?
Yet the real risk posed to ourselves is often internal. Often it is that non-rational fear of things internal that holds us back from succeeding, being and living like ought to. If I got one thing from the talk tonight, it would be that:
If you can get a grip of your fear, the world will look after itself.