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From Where We Sit

Conquering fear

Anton Ng

I was hanging out at an ice skating rink over the weekend, when I noticed this little girl, not older than six, walking back to whom I presumed to be her dad. There was no smile on her face. Her heavy feet, still with her ice skates on, were clunking as they alternately hit the floor. I remembered seeing this girl a while ago. Every time she was on the rink, she would be at the edge, holding on to the railings unless she was holding on to someone else. In one instance, I saw her crying, with fear in her round, misty eyes.

“What’s with the long face?” I heard her dad ask. “I fell because somebody pushed me,” she muttered. “Are you okay?” asked her dad. She nodded. “Maybe it was an accident,” added her dad, but to which she did not respond.
“Are you going back in?”

No words came out of her mouth. She just stood up and went back to the ice. This time, fear was absent on her face. To my surprise, she went directly to the middle of the rink, without even a hint that she wanted to be reacquainted with the railings that she depended on for the last hour. She skated far enough, by herself that, at some point, I could hardly see her because of the ice fog. A few moments later, I saw her again near where I was standing. She was circling two girls, both taller and older than her. When she
saw an opportunity, she took it. She slid gently in between the two girls. She looked up to one of them and said “I am not happy that you pushed me”, turned around and went off the ice. No fight ensued. The little girl just wanted to express herself, fear notwithstanding.

She conquered her fear of skating in the middle of the rink by herself, because there was an impetus for her to do so. There was something greater that eclipsed the fear that was making her hold dearly onto the railings. She allowed the need to express herself to take precedence to the fear of pain if she fell.

Fear is common to all of us. It hinders us from doing things. It paralyzes our movements. It prevents us from making decisions, from moving forward. Fear can be based on something that happened in our past. Fear can sometimes be irrational. The fears we humans have seem limitless.

Imagine a work environment where there is no fear of failure: things are getting done, because there is no fear that leads to indecision, or everybody respectfully expresses their thoughts, because there is no fear of rejection. When there is fear, we sometimes put off having our conversations with our leaders, because we do not want to be blamed. When there is fear, we sometimes put off having our conversations with our staff, because we do not want to be seen as weak. When there is fear, we forego doing many things, things that can help our organizations and our people grow.

Hopefully, like the little girl, we have values and principles far more important than fear itself. If we have yet to identify them, now is the best time to start. What moves you? What compels you to take action? For the little girl, it was the need to express herself; it could be your desire to love others; it could be your penchant to fight for what is right and fair; love for your country; or loyalty to your family. We have to identify whatever is important and valuable to us. It may take time, but the first step is always to realize there is something that needs to be done.

The deeper and farther reaching those values and principles are, the more compelling it would be for us to act despite our fears. The more people are affected by those values, the greater the force to push us beyond our comfort zone.
The little girl conquered her fear by embracing her values. She held her principles more dearly than dearly hanging on to the railings. Maybe fear will come back to limit her again when she sets foot on the ice; or, maybe, she has finally conquered her fear of skating by herself, coupled with the smile on her father’s face inspiring her to make this experience her new normal.

Anton Ng is a Partner in the Audit and Assurance division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 23 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our


As published in The Manila Times, dated 31 July 2019