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Turning Fear Into Fuel by Jonathan Fields at TEDxCMU 2010 (Transcript)

Sharing is Kindness in Action!

Jonathan Fields

Full text of author Jonathan Fields’ talk: Turning Fear Into Fuel at TEDxCMU 2010 conference.   

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Good morning everyone. So I’m leaving with my Twitter a claim here, you can’t do a thing about it. So cool!

We’re going to start with a few questions this morning. And my first question is – can anyone tell me what the number #4 fear is in the world? Any guess, just shout it out. Spider phobia sticks.

The number #4 fear and granted that the surveys can change a little bit but very often is listed as death.

Does anyone know what the number #1 fear in the world is? Just like a no brainer for everybody here right? Public speaking.

Does it bother anybody here that people are more afraid of speaking than dying? I’m just wondering.

There’s also — there’s a little-known number one point one fear – does anyone know what that one is? That’s actually point one.

Now the number point one fear – we’re going to move through this, this morning – so take two seconds here. And just turn to the odd strange bizarre human being sitting next to you and say hello.

Okay. Don’t get too friendly. No chest bumping in the aisles. Calm down.

Guys I have 18 minutes!

Okay. And so I’m going to move on now. I’m going to move on now. And I want to take you back to a time in my life, about nine years ago, the year was 2001. And it was a pivotal year for me for a number of reasons. The biggest of which is that’s the year that I became a dad and that was the most magical and still the most magical thing in my world.

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It’s also the year I did something a little bit odd. I signed a lease on a six-year lease on the floor in a building in the city that lived and with the goal of opening what I hoped to be the premier Yoga Center. Which if I was a guy who came into the yoga world, maybe I wouldn’t be so odd. But I was a guy who not too long before was a venture capital lawyer in a large firm.

So according to pretty much everybody around me, I had no experience, no reputation, no investors, no clients and no damn business doing this, with a three-month-old baby and a family and a home in town, do you think that may be a little bit fearful? Just slightest bit of anxious.

The city by the way — and this is the support that I got — by those closest to me. And by the way the night that I signed that lease, I have to tell you for some odd reason, I slept like a baby that night. It was really great.

So I go to bed that night, a little bit freaked out about what I was doing, was it the right call? This is my dream. This is the thing that I think is going to make me come alive. Nervous, anxious; can I handle this?

The city was New York. The date that I signed the lease – September 10, 2001.

When I woke the next morning, my city was literally in flame. And I was a longtime New Yorker.

And what you hear my voice now talking about this isn’t well – yeah, it’s nervous about talking here but that’s not what really you’re hearing. What you’re hearing is for those of us that were in the city that day, as far from that date as we remove ourselves, it’s still right there. It’s still right there.

And the first thing that happens that morning is my thoughts started fleeting between two worrying things. One was – who did I know? Because everybody knew somebody if we were in the city.

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Who did I know? Did I know somebody that was in the towers that day?

And then the other thing I was bouncing between was – what am I doing? Am I seriously going to launch a business into this – into this a bed of pain and morning in sadness. And remind yourselves also that at that moment we didn’t know if this was the first of many. Or if this was it?

And as the day progressed and I was talking to my wife. We started to realize we did, in fact, know somebody who was working in 108th floor in one of the towers. A father, a friend of ours is a married father, the two-and-a-half year old and a nine month old son. And then they actually just finished with their dream home a few months earlier at the suburb. So we put my daughter into the car, drove up  there to the house where there was a vigil going on hoping for some word that sadly would never come.

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