Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Be Fearless

By Robert Kennedy III

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The minute you decide you want to do something better with yourself, you can be overwhelmed with 1.5 million personal growth articles online.  Some are helpful and there are a ton which just spew opinion intended to get a reaction.  That’s fine.  Everyone who wants to write should be able to write.  And everyone who has an idea should be able to share it.
However, there are some I don’t understand, which totally miss the mark for me.  For instance, the idea of being fearless.  I’ve seen entire personal platforms built on the idea of being fearless.  In fact, recently I came across a youth group which was having an event simply called “Fearless.”
There are several variations on the word.  One is defined as being afraid of something which is likely dangerous or painful.  Another definition is anxiety, concern, apprehension or uncertainty due to the unknown or potential embarrassment.  Still, a third variation refers to reverence and awe, as in the fear of God.
 
When we come across the term fearless, I assume we are talking about some mixture of the first two variations.  So, being ‘fearless’ would mean never acknowledging danger, ignoring the possibility of hurt, and  never admitting the possibility of the unknown.  
 
But, I’d rather be courageous than fearless.  Here’s why.
 
  1. I’d rather see the fear and do it anyway.  We live in a real world and simply ignoring doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  We are going to have our share of challenges.  When a bill comes to my house, it exists.  When I step into the street and a bus is coming, that exists.  When I step on to a diving board 20 feet above the water, it’s really 20 feet.  So, in all cases, I’ve got to make a decision about the situation and what action to take.
 
  1. You can teach courage.  People are connected to their own feelings and fears.  When they see someone who is making success, it’s easy to believe they have it easier or don’t face the same challenges.  But, it’s ridiculously empowering when you find out they have the same fears and challenges and yet, they are able to succeed anyway.  If you think about the first astronauts to leave earth’s orbit.  They went on a machine and had no idea what was going to happen.  There were many possibilities.  It was possible they wouldn’t make it back.  But, they did it anyway.  You can role model courage.  You can create connections in the shared experience of fear.  But, then you can show them how you did it.  This is why movies like Rocky connect with people.  They show a regular guy who pushed past fears and beat the odds.
  1. Fear let’s me know there is more to do.  If I never experience fear, how will I know there is more growth to happen?  If I never experience fear, how will I experience true exhilaration.  This comes from being willing to experience the unknown.  It comes from being willing to persevere when failure is a possibility.
I understand some writers may simply be using ‘fearless’ as a synonym for courageous because they would rather delete the appearance of anything negative.  For them, fear is seen as a negative while being fearless is seen as being bold.  But, fear is real.  We all have it.  We have all had them.  Whether we choose to admit it is another story.
I’d much rather experience the sheer joy of victory and the ecstasy of overcoming the odds than ignoring the possibility of hurt or failure.  They are real words.  And they represent real emotions.  But, I’m choosing to focus on courageously conquering.
How do you feel about the word fearless?