Werner Erhard with his younger son, St. John
Werner took his son, St. John, to Hawaii. They went sailing. John was very frightened. He already knew that the boat is not likely to tip over, and both of them wore life jackets. In other words, they would be safe. However, reassurances and explanations are not always enough to quieten fear.
When they got way offshore, John started to talk incessantly. He kept on going: “Why don’t we turn around and go back?” “I think we’re out far enough. And besides that, I think that the mast is going to break, and the rope is falling down.” “I looked and there’s a cloud up there and it’s getting bigger and I’m shaking a lot, don’t you think?” “I think we ought to turn around now and go the other way.”
John was on automatic.
Werner said “son, if you are frightened, you don’t need to hide that. If you are afraid, it’s all right to let me know that you are afraid. You don’t need to go through that whole racket in order to hide the fact that you’re afraid.”
John acknowledged “Yeah, I’m afraid.”
John sat there and was able to experience fear. He was frightened. But he did stop talking. He no longer had to hide the fear with his talk. He could be quiet and he was.
When they were back to their hotel, Werner asked John: “How do you handle fear in life?” “How was he going to handle his being afraid in a sailboat?”
John had a very good idea about that. He said that he would just not go sailing anymore. The logic of this was overpowering. Werner remarked that what he can do is to avoid all the things that are uncomfortable in life as a way of getting around being uncomfortable. He can set a high value on being comfortable. That’s a sure solution and it’s a solution most people take. They get down in one little corner of the boat of life and play down in that corner, where it is nice and safe and where they are protected from all discomfort and all fear and all harm. And they are truly survivors.
They even look good, because they are always dealing with something as totally familiar to them, as something that they can handle.
Werner told John that it was possible to do that. The only problem with that is that he never gets to the true joy in life. Life gets more and more stuck. Eventually, he makes up really horrendous problems to have some variety in life. He might get deathly ill or have some tragic accident.
John thought that over for awhile. Werner asked if there’s another way to overcome his fear of sailing.
John came up with the idea that he could overcome his fear of sailing by being afraid of sailing. He got excited about going sailing and being frightened the next day. He actually looked forward to being frightened, because he already knew that he had discovered for himself that the way you overcome being afraid of sailing is by experiencing the fear. John chose to expand rather than to contract.
That’s the whole story about self-discipline. If you are afraid, the point is not to rub your nose in it, to inure yourself to it, to get used to it, or even to overcome it. The point is not to jam it down or suppress it. Rather the point is to choose to be uncomfortable in order to allow being uncomfortable to be. When you let something be, it lets you be. That way, you attain mastery.
What stands in the way of this is only your point of view. Your point of view is the point from which you view – which therefore you do not see. Your point of view is positional, and to get off it, to leave it behind, is always uncomfortable and frequently terrifying.
About the author: Hoan Do is a certified leadership coach with John Maxwell Team. Hoan have led multiple teams at Symantec Inc. across the globe delivering world-class solutions to protect consumers and businesses. Hoan is an expert in building highly performing teams. He believes that the best leader is the leader that could grow his followers to be leaders. Hoan has been organizing mastermind groups at work to share with other leaders about transformational leadership and coaching. He has trained many leaders both inside and outside Symantec via mastermind groups, workshops, and one-on-one coaching. Hoan perfected his own method “think and lead rich” to start leaders with the right mindset before equipping them with a complete leadership development solution.
Quotes from Werner Erhard to help you deal with fear and live life lovingly:
Reference: Werner Erhard The Transformation of a Man: The Founding of EST by William Warren Bartley III