Paul Assaiante is the winningest coach you probably never heard of.  His squash teams at Trinity College won 224 straight and 282 out of 292 matches during a sixteen year stretch.  Squash doesn’t play well on television and is most popular in former British colonies post 1776. Consequently, he is not well known in America despite his success.  He recently wrote a book on coaching to overcome fear called Run To the Roar. His story begins with a tale of a lion pride on the African savanna.   The oldest lioness is no longer able to run fast and hunt like the younger members. What she can still do is roar.  When the pride hunts, the young lions spot a heard of prey and stealthily move in the bush to the far side of the hunted.  The old lion stays on the near side and when all is ready, lets out a ferocious roar.  The prey, reacting to the perceived threat, run from the roar and right into the teeth of the waiting pride.  Coach Assaiante helps his athletes face their fears and move towards them. Running away never gives them a chance to cope with their fears and anxieties.

Pema Chodron addresses this in The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.  She teaches mind training in Buddhist tradition to help one cope and learn from that which we fear.  We pay attention, we do not avoid life as it is, but embrace it with loving kindness.  We listen to the stories we tell our selves, and we re-write those stories.  She calls it training in the warrior’s journey.

We are all embarking on, as Joesph Campbell wrote, a hero’s journey in this life.  Our fears and anxieties and our failures are also our teachers. Our brain’s have remarkable plasticity and ability to change over our lifetimes.  Our minds can grow and we can re-write our stories.  Listen to the phrases you say to yourself. How are those beliefs and stories affecting your life? What we tell ourselves, we become.