I used to read comic books. Even at a young age the message in ‘Asterix and the Normans’ inspired me, the tough Vikings charging a village only to find it empty because the villagers have fled. The Vikings think the villagers fly away in fear. They believe that if they can know fear, they will also be able to fly. The problem is, they don’t know fear. Can you be courageous if you don’t know what fear is?
Throughout the story the Vikings get acquainted with fear through the awful sounds produced by Cacofonix, the bard. It doesn’t enable them to fly, but it does teach them to be really courageous. As Getafix, the wise village druid, explains “courageis achieved only by having first been afraid, and then superseding the fear to the desired effect”.
This gets us close to our fearless monkey. It is not the absence of fear, but the conquering of it. This is not defeating fear so that it no longer exists, that is too difficult most of the time. No, this is acting despite being afraid. This is not letting your fears, insecurities and doubts withhold you from doing the things you want or have to do. This is daring to act to get the desired effect. And that takes courage.
The first step is to decide what you desire, not an easy task. It takes regular reflection to find out what you want, what you like or what you want to achieve.
The second step is to figure out how you get there. It may just be finding out where to start doing what you love (e.g. dancing more) or it may involve many steps to a desired outcome (e.g. owning a successful business).
The third step is to start, to take that first step!
This is a never-ending cycle. The moment of never having to reflect again or never having to practice anymore and just doing will never arrive; nor should you spend too much time preparing and reflecting, as a Chinese Proverb states: he who deliberates before taking each step, will spend his entire life on one leg.
I’m not saying don’t be afraid or don’t doubt. Haha, for this fearless monkey just writing a blog is enough for the doubts to surface — does it make sense, is it helpful, is it clear, is it too obvious? But I do think it is a useful way of sharing my thoughts, like writing my book. So I leap and start blogging and I welcome whatever comes out of it.
What I am saying is this: A fearless monkey thinks of what is important and takes action in spite of their fears and doubts. Actually, I believe that doubting is important for improving your decision making. So to be a fearless monkey be pleased with your doubts but don’t let them stop you from taking action.
What does this attitude or approach to life mean for leading a team or working for a group or organisation? We’ll explore these issues in the next blogs.
Dennis Heijn — Partner at Corporate Casting, author ‘The Fearless Monkey’