The “Fear Sense”

Soaring through the night sky;

Swinging between Manhattan’s skyscrapers;

Suddenly, his senses went into overdrive, shouting and screaming “Danger! Danger!”

“Swoosh”, he heard an object accelerating towards him, knowing it be dangerous, he let the webbing go and “Boom!” an explosive went off where he was a millisecond ago.

Spiderman, the marvel comic super hero, is the world’s most famous web-slinger.

His super powers includes: Enhanced strength, agility, and wall crawling. But the one is that is most unique is the spider sense, a tingling at the base of the skull that warns spiderman when danger approaches. Its has saved his life many times.

Do you know we something akin to spider sense too? We have what’s known as the “Fear Sense”. The fear sense is something that keeps us away from what’s unknown, the fear sense keeps us away from leaving our comfort zone.

Don’t believe me? Recall the last time you have been asked to do something that you have not done, tried or experienced before?

Take for example bungy jumping, or even public speaking! Do you remember how you felt? The queasy feeling in the gut, the legs getting soft and the brain keeps screaming “Are you nuts! Don’t do it!”

If you felt that before, you have the “Fear Sense”. Its purpose is to keep you within your comfort zone. Things that you are familiar with. Take note “Fear Sense” does not necessary keeps you safe. It merely tells you to stay within status quo.

What is status quo? The status quo may mean being a job you hate, may mean doing the things that you hate doing, and even living the life you hate living.

Does it makes sense to stay status quo in such cases? No?

But yet it doesn’t stop me from seeing hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of people, who go about doing the same old thing, over and over and over again. The eyes of these people are dead and when you ask them: “Why don’t you try something else?” They give in to the “fear sense” and say, “The world is a big one, I don’t know what I will be getting myself into” or They will say:” I don’t know, maybe its better to stick at what I know.”

In short, the fear sense is the fear of the unknown, the fear of treading out of the comfort zone.

Likewise I had often given in to the “fear sense”. As mentioned in my earlier posts, I fear hardwork a lot, and I fear that my personal space will be taken if I work hard. As a result I often avoid doing any thing “extra”. I reflected over the lunar new year’s holiday and I realized how much  opportunity sweep past me because I wasn’t willing to “work hard” and break through my comfort zone. I felt a huge sense of regret. I  I told myself this year that I wanted to change, and the opportunity for change came in an unexpected way.

During one of my February toastmaster’s chapter meeting, we celebrated the birthday of February Babies. As I sang the birthday song, I thought of how some of these people like Coen, Ted and Carl have made such a difference in my life. At that moment I felt the sudden urge, an urge to celebrate these individuals by having a gathering of friends. It sounds simple right? But I had never organized such events before as I feared the hardwork involved, and I was going into unknown territory. The fear sense of course set in.

What did i do?

I questioned the fear:

Me: What were you afraid of?

Fear: I am afraid of hardwork and the lost of personal space.

Then I address its concern:

Me: Thank you for sharing your concerns. But these people means a lot to me, and I want to celebrate these individuals. Anyway, its just a couple of calls, text and emails away, its not that difficult.

Fear: Ok

Truth be told, a fair bit of effort was used in getting the people to come for the birthday celebration of my friends, Ted, Coen, Ming Jian and Carl. I sent out an email invitation on 12th Feb 13 for a dinner gathering on the 16th.

2 days had passed, no response. A part of said: “Yay, lets not celebrate!” But I reflected on past regrets, and I decided to text and call my friends up. As I tabulated the no of people who have agreed to come, the list came up to 10 people. Quite a respectable number, isn’t it.

When the event was over, I reflected on the whole process. Even though I spent some time on it, it had never really intruded on my personal time. I also came to one realization: Its quite simple. Most importantly, the smiles of satisfaction of my friends and the simple words of “Thank you” simply made my day.

This incident, as well as my foray into blogging, thought me that breaking out of the comfort zone, moving away from the status quo can be quite simple. All it takes is to question the “fear sense” and to address its concerns. What’s going to happen is that, when you expand and break through the comfort zone.

You will start going places, that you have never gone to.

Do things that you have never done before.

See things in a way that you have never seen before.

Live like you will never live before.

Next time, when you feel that queasy feeling in the gut, the softness in the legs. Be open to the idea, that the fear sense could be alerting you to an opportunity to break through your comfort zone.

To end off, I would like to share a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt said:” Do one thing everyday that scares you”


Your fellow human being:)

Fear and Success

How many of you want success?

How many you are in pursuit of success?

In your pursuit of success, have you ever asked yourself the following questions?

Can I be successful?

What does it takes to be successful?

When will I ever be successful?

Do you? If you do, great! I have got good news for you. The good news is that we are not alone, many people doubt themselves in their pursuit of success.

The funny thing is that until the day you feel you are successful, you will never know the answer to the following questions.

After all, as Steve Jobs, said in his Stanford commencement speech, you can only connect the dots backwards but not forward.

In the meantime, we continue to work, continuing to work on the good things that will lead us to success. Until the day success comes, what do we do in the mean time? What do we do with the fear? I found the answer in a most unexpected of ways…….

During Valentine’s, I came across this story:

It was summer in 2005, India, Arun fell in love with the love of his life Candy. He doesn’t know why but he knew that the moment she spoke, she was THE ONE. After the game of courtship, they became steady. Everyday was a bliss until, one day Candy said to Arun. “Dear, my company asked me if I wanted to relocate to Singapore. There is job posting there. Do you think I should take it?”

Arun knew it has always been Candy’s dream to work overseas. Deep inside he wanted to scream:” No dear, no I don’t want you to go. Stay! Stay with me!” But the loving and selflessness side took over, he said: “Go dear, go pursue your dreams. I will be not far behind.”

As he kissed her goodbye at the airport, he said hello to job applications. Day after day, he would apply for jobs, but day after day no good news would come. He started having doubts. “What if I am never meant to have a job in Singapore? What if I am never meant to be with Candy?” Only the communications with Candy over Skype, and Whatsapp kept him sane and on track. After a while, he started asking for feedback from friends, or simply anyone on his job search approach, and refined accordingly. Whenever he got some any queries, he took that as positive feedback on his refined approach.

Day after day, he kept on sending the job applications, months after months, he would seek feedback and refine his approach.

He would look at his email every other hour with anticipation to see if there were any replies, only for his heart to sank when there was none.

His heart would thump “Budum, budum” whenever he receives a call, only for it to sink when it was a call from a credit card company sales man.

A year has past….still no job. Doubts continually assailed him. How would you feel if you were him? Dejected, disappointed?

Only the picture of him and Candy, that he has on the table kept him on track. Months, after months, he continued the process of sending application, ask for feedback, refine his approach, celebrate any respond he got, doing it all over again.

Its coming to an end to year 2011. He received a phone call: “Mr Arun. We received your application, we will like to meet you in Singapore.”

He blanked out for a while.

“Mr Arun?: The Hr Officer prodded.

Arun: “Yes, of course I can make it.”  

Finally, an interview!!!! He flew to Singapore went through the interviews. On Jan 12, he reported for work at the new office in Singpore, 2 years after he started applying for a job in Singapore, after 700 applications. SEVEN HUNDRED APPLICATIONS!!!

The lesson I learnt from this story is that: In our quest for success. we experience 2 fears.

 1. Are we worthy of success?

2. Are we doing the right thing?


For the first fear, its one on belief. The questions to ask are:

Do you believe that we are here on earth for a purpose?

Do you think that by fulfilling that purpose we are successful?

If the answers to both questions are yes, then YES we are Worthy!!!

The second fear is a valid one. Lets be realistic if we want to get to east, we will most likely not get there if we travel west.

Questioning the approach is only something we do during the planning stage, and during check points. Just like in a journey, we plan where we want to go, how we want to go, then we move off. To see if we are on track, we need to stop at check points and see where we are versus where we are going to be. If we are on track, great! If not, we have to rework our route. When we are on track, celebrate the fact that we have reached a milestone, rejoice! Even if we are not on track, take heart  as we could be in a much worse situation.

Finally, the one that ties it all up, the most important factor. On any journey, its important to have hope and desire to get to the end point, the end objective. Just as how Arun’s desire to be with Candy pushed him to overcome the self doubts. Hope and desire is the fuel that pushes us through   the obstacles both physical and mental in our quest for success.

My friends, in our quest for success, we often find ourselves assailed by fears and doubts about ourselves and our goals. While fear keeps us on the right track, during the check points it is ultimately hope that keeps us going. Ladies and gentlemen, lets celebrate the progress that we make in our lives and may you be successful.


Your fellow human being:)

Live Without Fear

Hi everyone,

It was in Jan 13 that I established the intention of creating a space for myself and others to talk about fear and learn to leverage fear.

I was searching through Google on what are the common things that people are writing on:

Live without fear, life without fear, fearless.

No fear, all guts, is that really possible?

Fear, is it the devil that everyone claims it to be?

Fear, is it shameful to have fear?

I hesitated, is this what I should write about?

Then I looked back at history and past events.

I remembered the titanic, the owners claimed that its a ship that even God can’t sink. Such audacity and fearlessness, meant that life boats were under-prepared. 2,224 people boarded the ship, 1,514 of them died.

I remembered world war 2, the allied nations did not believe that Germany the defeated could ever rise up. Such complacency and fearlessness, meant that Germany rose from the ashes and started the largest war that mankind has seen.

I remembered about my foray with the margin trading account, I did not believe that I would make massive losses. Such greed and fearlessness, meant that at the lowest point in time I had lost 95% of my cash holdings.

Fear isn’t so bad after all, had the key personnels listened to that little voice of caution that is fear, the tragedy or losses might not have happened after all.

Don’t ever feel shameful about having fear. It as natural as how night is to light. If hope is the accelerator that brings you closer to your goals, and your mission in life. Fear is the brakes that prevents you from crashing the car. Have hope but leverage on fear to get you to the destination safe and sound.

Ladies and gentlemen, listen to that little voice, ask what it is trying to tell you, and address its concerns, and may you achieve your goals safely.

Free feel to comment and share your thoughts, your fears and your hopes.


Your fellow human being:)


Fear and Money

Can you imagine how is it like to lose all your cash overnight?

Can you imagine how is it like to be under the constant burden of debt?

Can you imagine how is it like to fear losing even more money?

That was exactly how I felt about 2 years ago.

After the market took a breather from the Lehman Brother’s collapse,  I went back into the stock market under the encouragement of my remisier.

I made some gains, it felt good. I put more money into the stock market and I made some more money.

At this point in time, my remisier introduced me to the concept of trading in margins account. To put it simply, using stocks or cash as form of collateral, you are able to borrow funds to buy shares. If the market is good, and your bucket of stocks goes up, you can sell the stocks and take the profits. The brokerage firm takes the interest, brokerage fees and the principal from the sales of the stocks. To control the exposure, the brokerage firm sets a market value to debt buffer, once the market value of your stocks goes down, you need to top with cash or sell the stocks, take the loss to reduce the debt.

I wasn’t very keen but my remisier was very insistent. I signed up on this scheme. I started making gains, and I increased the borrowed stockholdings under the remisier’s recommendation.

Then the European Sovereign Debt Crisis arises, stocks prices tumbled. Market value of my stocks depreciated sharply against the debt that I was exposed to. I had around 40K in cash in my account at that point in time, money which  I built over the years, and it dissipated in a month, as I topped up  my margin account. At the lowest point, I had only 2K in cash.

Every night, I was frightened that I might have to top up the margin account with money, money that I did not have.

Its 2013, the market has recovered (although not enough for me to sell off), my cash holdings have increased back pre-crisis level.

As I looked back, this are the lessons learnt:

My instincts tells me the margin account wasn’t a good idea but I went ahead nonetheless.

I could have listened to my fears, question it and find out what it was trying to warn me. But no, I played with money I did not have and burnt myself. I burnt myself bad.

But what could I have done with this fear of losing money or even missing out of gains?

I found out this morning, while reading the papers.

Carl Richards, a financial planner from the US wrote about the investment policy statement in the New York Times.

According to Carl, the investment policy should cover the following questions:

1. Why are you investing in the first place?

2. How much do you need in cash, bonds and stocks to give the best chance of meeting these goals, while taking the least amount of risk?

3. What actual investments will you buy to populate the plan and why?

4. How often will you revisit this plan to make sure that you are doing what you said you would do, and make changes to investments to get them back with what you said in the second point?

The personal investment policy statement can be one the most important guardrails against the passivity, inactivity or even over aggressiveness that is driven by fear over money. Be it fear over loss of money or fear over not gaining enough money.

Once again listen to our fear over money, question it and develop the investment policy statement. May it help you in your investment decisions.


Your fellow human being:)

My Lunar New Year’s Resolution

Lunar New year, signals the arrival of spring, for the Chinese its the most important festival, signalling a brand new start.

Its the Chinese equivalent of the First of January of the Gregorian Calender.

This year I didn’t make any resolutions on 01 January 2013. That’s because I had 2 fears actually.

The first is that I will not fulfil my resolution, the second is that I have to work hard for it. In fact I think its my fear of working hard that is preventing me from making the resolutions.

Over the Lunar New Holiday (from 09 – 12 February 13), I had the chance to think about my life. “Am  I willing to let fear of working hard prevent me from making my mark in life, or preventing me from living the life mission?”

That thought ended me in me I waking up in cold sweat, the fear of not accomplishing anything in life, has once again prompted me to act.

My resolution this year is to earn 150K in passive income. I came up with this amount after calculating how much I need in order to sustain the ideal lifestyle that I will like to have. (More about that in a another post)

One of the greatest fears regarding resolution, is that the goal seems too great to achieve. I have zero passive income now, 150K is a long shot. It can get discouraging just by thinking about it.

What did I do then? I determined the “how”. How refers to “How do I get there?”

I have identified 2 ways to do so:

1. On-line business

2. Investments

In the area of online business, I will sell an ebook. In the case of the latter, I will trade in shares, bonds and other assets.

Now that is not specific enough, to make life easier, we need to further breakdown the “how” into “achievable bits” over a designated timeframe. In my case, I decided that on a weekly basis I am going to write an article or a speech which will contribute towards the content of the book. On a weekly basis, I am going learn about one industry. I will learn about the SWOT (Strength, weakness, opportunity, threats) of the market leaders of the industry.

By writing this post, I have already fulfilled one of my goals, or “achievable bits”, and the industry I am going to study about is property.

After taking breaking the “how” into achievable bits. the next thing is “Just Do it”

At the end of the designated period (in my case 1 week),  take stock of what’s being done. If things don’t out the way you anticipated. Understand how happened to stop you from achieving the goals, overcome the problem and DO IT!

Take for example, I missed out on writing an article this week, because I was busy celebrating the Lunar New Year. I will simply make up for it. I will 2 articles, the following week.

And if you have done it, celebrate like crazy! Yes celebrate like crazy! Have an ice cream, shout to the world, or even a pat on your back. The purpose is to anchor the feeling of euphoria, of feeling good with the accomplishment of the “achievable bits”. Once that is done over time, you will gain the craving of success, and you will automatically do what’s necessary.

For me its simple, I will give myself a pat on my back, and update my success journal before I sleep. In fact, now I have the blog to shout out my successes in life

In short a key to a successful implementation of the new year resolution:

1. Be present with the fear of not being able to achieve anything in life.

2. Come up with a clear and specific resolution.

3. Break the resolution into “achievable bits”.

4. Just Do it!

5. Take stock of what you have done.

6. If things don’t turn out right, find out why, address it and then DO it!

7. Where things turn out right. Celebrate like crazy!!!

To a successful and prosperous Lunar New Year!


Your fellow human:)