Speaker tackles our fear

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Area Schools staff received several training sessions Monday from Trevor Ragan, who is the founder of Train Ugly. On Monday evening, the session was open to parents and community members.

“The message truly aligns with the vision we have here in our strategic plan,” said Fairmont Jr./Sr. High School Principal Kim Niss.

Ragan travels all over the United States and the world working with professional athletes, renowned professors, Olympic coaches, and hundreds of teachers and students. His mission is to challenge and question everything we think we know about sports, education and development.

Although Ragan covered several areas throughout the workshop, a main focus was fear and how and why we respond to it.

He began the conversation by talking about tigers in the zoo and tigers in the jungle. While the zoo tiger is isolated, away from danger and brought food daily, the jungle tiger faces challenges and obstacles.

“One tiger learns and develops so much more than the other,” Ragan said, “and that difference had nothing to do with their tools. They both had tails, stripes, teeth. The big difference is the skills they developed and the environment in which they developed those skills in.”

He went on to explain that this is not a story about tigers, but about people. We all learn to walk and ride a bicycle the same way.

“No matter what we try to learn, the process is the same,” Ragan said. “We’re going to be bad at first.”

He said that if we spend our time like the zoo tiger, where we’re comfortable, we have no opportunity to develop and learn.

“Every single day fear robs us of experiences that would help us grow,” Ragan said.

We’re constantly presented with challenges, obstacles, problems and change. Ragan asks: Do we act like a jungle tiger and try to overcome them? Or do we act like a zoo tiger and stay comfortable where we’re at?

He provided examples of people admitting to instances in which they were too afraid to step up and do something they knew would help them grow because they were afraid of rejection or failure.

“We all have 3,000 examples that we can think of,” he said. “The act of doing something is good, even if you don’t get what you wanted.”

Ragan reminded the audience that there is good fear and bad fear. When you’re in danger, fear is good because it keeps you safe, but fear also keeps us in our comfort zones and prevents us from opportunities that would help us grow.

“You can’t get rid of fear — it’s wired in you. You have to understand how to use it,” Ragan said. “Telling someone to be fearless creates shame that makes the fear worse.”

He said feeling fear before something important doesn’t mean that you’re not ready or capable of facing it, but that you’re human and it’s normal to feel fear.

“In life, we don’t get to control the obstacles and problems that are thrown at us,” Ragan said. “If we frame something as an opportunity, we get more out of it than if we frame it as a threat.”

His takeaway message was that we all have the capacity to learn and get good at anything if we put ourselves in the right environment, but fear is the force that stops us.

“We can’t control the situation, but we can control how we face it,” Ragan said.

He invited everyone to view his website www.trainugly.com where videos and other information are posted.