Once upon a time, there was a warrior whose teacher told him he had to battle fear. He didn't want to, because it was scary. But his teacher said he must do it, and gave him instructions for the battle.

When the day arrived, the student warrior stood on one side, while fear stood on the other. The warrior felt small, while fear was large and intimidating. They both had their weapons, but suddenly the warrior fell to the ground and asked fear: "How can I defeat you?"

Fear replied: "My weapons are that I talk fast. And I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved and do what I say. If you don't do what I tell you, I have no power."

With that, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.

Being courageous and having a great life is all about being intimate with fear. Only when you feel fear will you have the courage to overcome it. Rather than being depressed or scared about fear, lean into it and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Les Brown, a motivational speaker and my friend, said, "Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears."

So if you are afraid, admit it. We all face fears and anxieties every day, and the only way to overcome them and succeed is to recognize them so we can confront them directly.

Examine your fears by identifying them. Spend some time each morning asking yourself what might happen during the day that you're afraid of — failure to reach the people you need to talk to, for example, or getting lost on the way to an appointment.

Take preventive steps. Be on the lookout for behaviors and thoughts that add to your fear, and train yourself to change your patterns of action and thinking.

Learn from your fears. You'll succeed or fail. Either way, use the experience of confronting your fear to overcome new problems.

Fear is the factor that prevents many from taking risks that can mean the difference between mediocrity and success.

Many years ago, I wrote a column about the Second Ten Commandments. No. 2: Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass. Every crisis you face is multiplied when you act out of fear, because fear is a self-fulfilling emotion.

Companies that make bold moves rarely do so without some element of fear. Leaders worry every day whether they have acted too soon or are missing some unanticipated obstacles when they introduce new products or services.

Have they performed their due diligence? Will their decisions pay off?

Those choices are never easy, but then business is never easy. Successful organizations know how to master their fears and put it them the proper perspective. They know their target markets and customers well enough to predict their chances of winning. They understand that if an idea fails, it most likely will not spell imminent doom.

Fear also can be useful when it is used to guide practical decisionmaking. Good businesses know the difference between confidence and arrogance. But I've seen plenty of businesses succumb to arrogance when a reasonable dose of fear might have prevented their failure.

Yet fear can paralyze you, preventing you from achieving, even from living. Can you actually die from fear? Most likely not. What fear kills is your spirit, your ambition, your confidence.

Mackay's Moral: Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or email harvey@mackay.com.