Where Leaders Come to Think

Attacking Fear



A white unmarked van picked us up from the neighborhood at eight in the morning every Saturday. Our task was to walk door to door stuffing flyers in the handles of houses.

This was my first job. It was a spectacular gig for a nine-year old.  However, the downside was angry dog encounters. So many, that I developed a some deep-seated fears.

This past Thanksgiving I went for a jog into some unknown country neighborhoods of Oklahoma. As the streets narrowed, I heard the barks and felt the attack coming.  Not one, but two angry dogs came sprinting towards me. The larger of the two was a mixed breed who was being spurred on by an evil, lap-sized, side-kick.  Teeth bared and hair standing the dog’s posture allowed my past to haunt me. I had inadvertently invaded sacred dog territory.

I had several choices to make, we all do, when dealing with fear.

My first inclination was to flee.

However, I understood that this would cause the dogs to bear down and bite. Running away from our problems rarely, if ever, gives us the opportunity needed for personal growth.

Instead of fleeing I stood and faced my fear. I remembered how Caesar Milan handled situations like this. I avoided eye contact, puffed up my chest, and took a small but confident step towards my fear.

Establishing dominance over my fear was critical. It must have been the action of standing and facing my fears that allowed them to melt away. Instead of panic, my heart gave way to a new internal fortitude. I was able to control my emotions and establish my dominance over both dogs.

While I was standing my ground – confidence grew. Repressing the last of my fears, I looked above the dogs, and made a spectacular “tsssst” sound while holding my hand out as if to say halt in dog language.

The dogs immediately stopped.

I was sure I could take the little evil dog, but the big one had me worried. Nevertheless, at the sign of my dominance both dogs shriveled back into the posture of action-less, loudmouthed, bullies. Flashbacks of playgrounds past came to mind.

During this moment I had overcome fear, but was still standing frozen in place. I needed to move forward and past my fear. With the same constant energy, I took a few steps backwards and gained the courage to turn my back on my fear. As I glanced over my shoulder the dogs remained in place, and I was able to finish a great run.

Obviously, for me, the dogs represented some of my deepest fears. To overcome I needed to face my fear, stand strong and move confidentially forward in faith. I learned that life is too short to remain frozen in fear.

Ponder this: Is there any area of your life where you feel frozen in fear? How well are you prepared to cope with it?

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  1. RAB

    I understand confronting instead of avoiding our problems. It’s just that the reality is, sometimes no matter how much you have showed dominance over a problem area, it still may go for your package.

  2. JKK

    Wow that’s a pretty ferocious looking dog!! I am proud of how you overcame your fears! Seriously great post and I guess the point is our fears always seem more ferocious in our minds until we confront them and find out they are just a Chihuahua 🙂

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia11-28-2012

      I thought the dog would add a little perspective. JKK you are right on when you say we make our problems seem more ferocious in our minds. However, those Chihuahua’s are grumpy little dogs…except one I met the other day I actually liked that one. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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