Sometimes it’s Good to do something that Really Scares You!

School had just let out for the summer and the first place I wanted to go was to my grandmother’s house. She was not working that day, so it was just the two of us for lunch. Being a typical thirteen year old, I wanted to go out and play while she was making lunch.

I ran out the back door and slammed it shut. Much to my surprise, I was immediately attacked by a swarm of pigmy wasps. I ran and still they followed. In all I received thirteen stings.

I immediately ran into the house and grandma’s maid quickly applied the old remedy of baking soda on the quickly rising welts. It was apparent that this was not a typical wasp sting situation. My heart rate was elevated and my breathing became difficult. My grandma called my mother so she could drive me to the doctor’s office (grandma didn’t drive).

I was ushered through the backdoor of the doctor’s office and placed on an examining table. It was clear to the doctor that I was in a major health crisis. My heart rate and blood pressure were at dangerous (read life-threatening) levels and my whole body was turning bright red. Immediately the doctor administered epinephrine.Initially, each time I received a shot, the symptoms dropped a bit, but still I was in danger.

In the middle of this drama, my doctor’s associate came in and announced, “I’ve never seen a reaction as bad as yours.” (You can imagine how reassuring this was for a thirteen year old). Over a period of two hours the medication kicked in and my systems returned to normal. It certainly was a good scare.

For many years, I carried a prescribed bee-sting kit. I never had to use it, but it felt good to have it when I was away from immediate medical care. In 2003, I was attending a program at a retreat center outside of Helena, MT. As I was sitting in a patch of clover, I put my hand on the ground for balance. Apparently, I disturbed a foraging bee and was stung between my thumb and forefinger. I waited to see if I had a reaction. Nothing. It seemed that my childhood experience was past. I have had several wasp and bee stings since that time and my reaction is what one would expect – a little swelling that quickly subsides.

Last year, I decided to become a beekeeper. I thought that since my sting incident was past, this should be no problem. Wrong! I built three hives and ordered bees for them. I went to the beekeepers house and brought the preformed combs and bees home. So far, so good. Once home, it was time for me to transfer the bees to their permanent hives.

This is when the fun began. As I opened the first temporary hive, the bees swarmed out. I was not wearing any of my beekeepers gear. I stopped in my tracks. My wife went into the house and brought out my gloves and helmet with veil. I put them on and then put my attention on transferring the bees. For almost ten minutes, I was frozen. All of my fears of death by bee sting were making themselves heard.

I was determined to move the bees, and finally did so. When I got to the third hive, I saw that the bees were more active than the first two had been. I again felt the fear rise up and started to move the hive anyway. In the middle of the process, a bee got inside my protective veil and stung me on the face. Panic was right in my face, and I did run away form the hive. I settled myself down and came back and finished the job.

Now its 2012 and I’m still keeping bees. I had a hive die over the winter and just picked up a replacement. Yesterday morning, it was time to move the bees into their new home. This time I was both aware of the inner fear and a new story – bee stings won’t kill me. I let this new story settle in and then began the work of moving the hives. When the first swarm of bees rose out of the hive and started pinging my head veil, I took a breathe and blew them away.

I felt a deep appreciation of my fear and the deliberateness to face it head on. In fact, my summer’s ambition is to have no fear of bees at all. I’m not sure if that’s how it will turn out, but that’s not so important at this point. I now have an experience of overriding my body’s fear when it is no longer helpful. I’m reminded that fear can be a strong teacher and is something to turn into rather than avoid!

I offer a few questions that may help you along your way. What is it that you are afraid of? How does it affect your relationships with others and yourself? Is it time to face the fear with appreciation and let it go?

Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

1 thought on “Sometimes it’s Good to do something that Really Scares You!”

  1. Great story, Thomas! My biggest fear is that I am unlovable….or stated, differently, that people won’t love me. I see how much of my behavior is motivated by this fear. So, I am embracing this fear and allowing myself to FEEL what un-lovability feels like…not pleasant, to be sure, but ,I believe, necessary.

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