Monday, October 5, 2015


Recently on my way to school, the DJ on one of my favorite radio stations was talking about the acronym fear.  She said F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.  Perhaps you've heard it before, but it was a first for me and it caused me to ponder on how fear affects our lives, both personally and professionally, and especially how it impacts the choices and decisions we make.

What is fear anyways? Fear is both a noun (idea) and a verb (action) According to Webster, the noun form of fear is an unpleasant emotion, an anxious concern, a reason for alarm.  In a religious sense, fear is a profound reverence and awe toward God.  I would add it is also profound respect and admiration toward someone in authority or leadership role, such as a school superintendent or a political leader.  Moreover, when we act in fear, we are worried, afraid and/or expecting something unpleasant to occur.  While fear generally starts as an unpleasant, stressful or perhaps even frightening emotion that's often crippling, it is our response to fear that determines the course of our lives.  Fear often brings issues to the surface that we may be oblivious to or have chosen to deny, finding ourselves at a crossroad or a dead end where a decision is inevitable.

Perhaps a better question is not what is fear, but what are we fearful of? What is fear keeping us from? As I ponder over these questions, I reflect on areas of my own life where fear has kept me from taking risks or reaching a lifelong dream.
  • New Role or Position.  Many teachers stay in the classroom for their entire professional career despite having personal aspirations of venturing into administration or educational support roles.  While financial barriers and family obligations are often cited as legitimate concerns, more likely than not, we often stay put because we would have to leave our comfort zone.
  • Speaking Our Mind.  Rather than huddling with our peers, scheduling a meeting with an administrator or joining a committee could not only have a positive impact on our students and our schools, but also ourselves - and may even open up career opportunities.
  • New Strategies, Methods or Tech Tools.  For some of us, our content doesn't change much over the years, however, our student population does and if our lesson delivery remains unchanged we are doing a disservice to our students.  Moreover, if we expect our learners to take risks in learning, we must model risk taking ourselves. Most importantly, we must teach them to embrace the growth process and as they embark on a lifetime of learning.  
  • Failure. Every great invention has started out with failure before it's been a success.  When we learn to see failure as a beginning rather than an end, the opportunities for growth are endless. We never set out to fail, but rather than fear it and shy away from it, we should embrace it. Once I realized that my flaws and my shortcomings can be a strength rather than a weakness, my instruction turned around and my students and my own children have been my greatest benefactors.
As I was searching for an appropriate graphic to add to this post, I found the acronym below and it found it aligns perfectly with my thoughts on this topic.
Image Credit:
So, what do you fear and what would you do if you were not afraid? As you go out and face the world, identify your fear (face it), explore the possibilities of overcoming it, accept what you cannot change and most importantly, respond accordingly.  What we really need to fear is inaction. So resolve to act upon these fears and start making those dreams a reality.