In the final scene of the Bollywood movie ‘Zindagi Nah Milegi Doobara’, 3 friends find themselves running for their lives. Not from the bad guys, but from raging bulls. And what’s more, this wasn’t happening by chance. It was their choice. They were in Spain, experiencing the ‘The Running of the Bulls’*.
The scene reminded me of an incident a friend had once shared with me.
In his home town of Ooty, there was this one time when there was a mad bull on the loose. It was running through the market area and mowing down anyone and anything that came in it’s way. My friend, who was incidentally in the market at that time, dropped his shopping bags and ran for his life. After running quite a distance he realized that he had outrun the bull and was now safe. The bull was nowhere in sight.
He sat down gasping for breath and thanked his stars. After a while, when the panting faded, he realized that he had run almost 2 kilometers from the market. A smile came on his face when he thought back of the same morning, when his gym coach was pushing him to jog on the treadmill and but he didn’t go any further than a brisk walk, stating that with his bulky frame, there was no way he could jog. And here he had run 2 kilometers at a stretch.
We know this was made possible by the adrenalin rush, which pumped extra blood into the limbs for a ‘Fight or Flee’ response (flee in this case). My friend did something he thought was impossible for him to do. Some might argue, it was the raging bull that made it possible for him!
Now my point is, do these raging bulls have to be real?
A case in point – when I was preparing for my 10th standard board exams many years ago, my brother always teased me that with my level of preparation I would only be able to get admission into a Tier C college. It scared me. I woke up earlier in the morning, studied harder and scored well in my exams. While I don’t believe this happened only because of the fear, but a part of me definitely wanted to make sure that I outran the fear that my brother was evoking in me (getting admission into a Tier C college). He later confessed that he was only teasing me and that at no point of time did he doubt my ability to score well.
But the fear worked for me! The bull of getting admission in a Tier C college was chasing me, but I was able to outrun it.
While I wouldn’t suggest it as a practice, I do believe it’s sometimes good to have something to fear (losing a relationship, failing an exam, messing up a presentation, getting a poor rating, or the desired increment/benefits). And sometimes it helps to create that fear in our minds. It can bring the best out of us.
As one of the concepts in Time Management suggest, one of the best ways to meet a deadline (for those who always tend to work only when the deadline is very close) is to create a false deadline, which is before the actual one. The fear of missing the (false) deadline gets us moving and the work is completed well before the actual deadline.
It’s just a matter of convincing yourself that the fear is real and yet not letting it immobilize you.
As Aeschylus, a playwright of ancient Greece quoted, “There are times when fear is good. It must keep its watchful place at the heart’s controls.”
* The Running of the Bulls is a practice that involves running in front of a small group (typically a dozen) of bulls that have been let loose, on a course of a sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets. (Source: Wikipedia)