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Dealing with fear

Lynn Jaynes Published on 31 January 2015

Dale Carnegie said, “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

In college, my freshman dorm room was located on the ground floor. I had a habit of arising early while others slept. One morning, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.

I glanced toward the closed curtains and clearly saw a face peeking through a small gap – a disgusting peeping tom!

The face immediately disappeared. I was startled for about half a second before it occurred to me that fear was paralyzing me and enabling this perpetrator to flee. If he fled, then I would be a victim.

That made me mad. I grabbed my keys (because I couldn’t get back into the dorm without them) and zoomed out the door in pursuit. With adrenaline pumping, I searched bushes and the parking lot in my bare feet on a very brisk morning in a bathrobe and never felt the cold.

Obviously, I hadn’t had much time to think. If I had examined my plan, I would have realized I had none. What did I think I was going to do with a pair of keys if I caught him? Turn his engine over? Unlock his better senses? What – give him a severe tongue-lashing along with an oil change? I have no idea. To this day, I have no idea.

In retrospect, I realize my reactions weren’t very smart. I felt incredibly empowered in the moment (adrenaline will do that for you), but I doubt Dale Carnegie was advising any of us to thoughtlessly tackle fears but rather keep them from paralyzing us.

Admitting fear is a tricky business. Most of us don’t admit being afraid. We call it other things – apprehension, misgiving, hesitation, worry, concern and anxiety. Fear, after all, sounds weak.

This time of year, however, is fraught with anxiety for farmers and ranchers about budgets, markets, weather, land, water, family, debt and crops. There are a lot of weighty decisions to be made that can make us feel like our heads are under water. I think that’s the fear Carnegie was talking about, and I agree with his advice to go out and get busy.

Geoffrey James, editor at, suggests four ways to deal with fear that he found helpful (4 mental tricks to conquer fear) and with which I agree.

  • Value courage over security: You must consciously dethrone security as the thing you value most. Often people value jobs they hate and habits that are killing them simply to feel more secure.

  • Differentiate between fear and prudence: Honestly evaluate concerns and identify those that are being masked as prudence and those that are behaviors of avoidance.

  • Treat fear as a call to action: If what you fear is outside your control, write down a plan – a series of steps that you will take to adapt if what you fear happens. Then forget about it. Move on.

  • Reframe fear into excitement: There is an aspect of fear that heightens senses and makes it even fun. Life without fear would be pretty bland. Take advantage of that; use it to take action.

It’s time you hear the first part of Carnegie’s quote: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.”

So face the hesitations – the bank account, the tax planner, the estate planner and lawyer. Work it through. Attend a presentation on the farm bill, listen to seminars, join an industry association, read up on the markets and forecasts; face the worries.

And, by the way, face them with more than adrenaline and a set of keys. Just sayin’.  FG

Lynn Jaynes
  • Lynn Jaynes
  • Editor
  • Progressive Forage Grower