Learning from FEAR



It is never too late to celebrate a great man.

When I think of Martin Luther King, I think of a man with these intense qualities:

Determination /Perseverance


Many years ago, I read a wonderful biography about Andrew Young. For those of you who are not familiar with him, he ran the operations of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and worked beside Martin Luther King for many years. (That is only a very small part of Mr. Young’s resume of stature.) Andrew Young was 20 feet from King when he was shot and killed in Memphis. In his biography, Young spoke of King’s fears and that was surprising to me at the time. Fear is not a word I would have used for this “bigger than life” human being. But lo and behold, through Andrew Young’s eyes, I got a glimpse of the humanness of Martin Luther King. So I went searching for quotes by King on fear and found the following: 

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

Knowing that the simple opportunity of taking the time to communicate with one another can dispel fear got me thinking. Doesn’t this include communicating with one’s self? In my work I share this acronym for FEAR: Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real
Isn’t that exactly what Martin Luther King was talking about? Without great communication we assume what an experience will be like before it ever happens.

Let me share with you a great example of what can happen when poor communication creates fear. I went to see my chiropractor one day. He was running late because he is a dedicated man and will spend the time necessary with a patient. (Not too many like him anymore.) I just couldn’t wait any longer due to other previous commitments, so I told the receptionist that I would have to reschedule. I was disappointed because I wanted to tell him about how happy I was with a water filled pillow he had given me. It had alleviated the pain in my neck that I had woken up with every morning for years. I asked the receptionist to give him a note from me. It read: “Please call…” and my phone number.

I never received a call, so I asked him about it the following month when I went in for my check-up. He told me he didn’t call me because he thought I was going to yell at him for being late the month before. I laughed and explained I only wanted to tell him about my happy experience with my pillow. We both laughed and learned. He was afraid and I was slighted, because he had the pre-determined FEAR of my anger. Knowing I would be back, he got to think about that “next” encounter for a month. For a month I thought the receptionist just did not give him the message. That is a lot of energy to expend in this life where there isn’t enough time for any of us. .

Martin Luther King never let the fear of angry words, jail or even death, stop him from moving forward. Couldn’t we all take a lesson from King and learn to communicate before we presume we have an enemy in front of us? Let’s instead find our commonalities. Let’s start with; we are all human.

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Julie Ann Sullivan works with organizations that want to create a workplace environment where people are productive, engaged and appreciated. Julie Ann’s newest book is titled, A little bit of GRATITUDE goes a long way. Julie Ann lives in Pittsburgh PA with her poodle Lucky. Learn more about Julie Ann by visiting



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