Driving out Fear

Posted by Lynn Yarbrough , Mar 29,2001,18:39   Archive
Several years ago, during a span of about four days, I heard -- from three different men, each of whom I respect greatly -- essentially the same message, each in the form they were best able to convey. The message was a new insight for me, and being a Christian, I tend to pay a lot of attention to such groups of insightful messages and attribute them to God's training program.

The first way I heard this message was through a television program, a biographical sketch of Gunther Goebel-Williams, who was for many years the finest animal trainer in the world and is now, I believe, an executive with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. Goebel-Williams was particularly famous for working with incompatible groups of animals, e.g. horses and tigers, with remarkable success.

The TV program explained Goebel-Williams' philosophy of working with wild animals, and in so doing also explained his philosophy of raising his then 11-year-old son. As he worked with each he employed the principle I am talking about, and he demonstrated how effective it is. I was struck by the way he expressed it: after watching him working with a huge Bengal tiger, the TV interviewer asked,

"How do you go about training an animal like this? Where do you start?"

Geobel-Williams answered in this way:

"In order to train a big cat like this, the first thing you must do is to remove every element of fear from the life of that cat."

Notice that he said nothing about overcoming his own fear of dealing with an animal that could tear him apart in a matter of seconds. He directed his energies toward eliminating fear in his subjects. He knew from experience that a fearful tiger is unpredictable, unmanageable, and dangerous. His relationship with his son, as was evident in the video, was characterized by fearlessness and shared experiences. He knew that if his son feared him or what he had chosen for a profession, that their relationship would become frustrating to both of them.

The second message I heard was delivered by a lecturer who was teaching the business management methods of a businessman named W. Edwards Deming. Deming was an American statistician and quality-control expert who is credited with almost single-handedly turning the Japanese business establishment from a maker of paper umbrellas and lanterns after the end of WWII into the world leader in steel production and quality leader in automobiles, electronics, and a host of other products. Largely ignored by American businessmen in the 1950's, Deming is literally worshipped in Japan. A medal bearing his name is awarded each year to the Japanese company that makes the greatest strides in improvement in quality of manufacturing and services.

As the lecturer explained the 14 points of Deming's outline for effective business planning and management, my attention was drawn to:

"Point 8: Drive fear from the workplace."

Deming's point is that a worker who is fearful of his or her work environment, co-workers, management or anything else will not be as productive, efficient, or teachable as one who is confident. In Deming's philosophy, it should be one of the manager's principal tasks to remove from the workplace anything that instills fear in a worker.

The third message I found was one I had read many times before, but the meaning of which I had not fully appreciated: I John 4:14,

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."

While it is true that God's love helps allay the fears in our own hearts, the real meaning of this passage is, I believe, that the perfection of love in ourselves requires that we drive fear out of the hearts of those people that we are responsible for: our families, our employees, our friends and co-workers, anyone to whom we wish to convey our love. Eliminating fear is an active role, not a passive one, in our lives.

I was still ten years from a correct diagnosis for my BEB. Every day was a struggle.

Each of us with BEB has experienced the fear of losing our eyesight permanently and of losing opportunities for work, play, and other activities that make us whole people. We fear not only the disease but the treatment: injections of BOTOX into the sensitive and painful areas of our bodies, our eyes; addiction to powerful drugs; and treatments whose effects we hardly understand. We fear the loss of family and other interpersonal relationships. We fear driving our cars into objects and groups of people with deadly effects.

What I am trying to do with my own contributions to this Forum is to reduce the level of fear that I sense in its contributors, and also its silent readers. I listen not only to what is said but what is unsaid, and I try to read between the lines for the pain that I know is there. What I know to be true is that the more we write and speak of what we are going through, the less our fears will control us.

Keep up the action. By offering your messages, you open yourselves to service and to healing. If you have never said a word here before, now is the time to do it. It will make you a better person, better even than you were before you ever heard of BEB. Do it!

--- Lynn

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