Fear is usually the enemy, but sometimes it is OK. The story below illustrates when.

Cobra eye
When is fear OK? @MattMcWilliams2 has the answer. Hint: It involves snakes. (Click to Tweet)

I’ve written before about talking back to fear, the benefit of fear, and even how fear gets in your head. These are all great posts and the second one even shows how fear can be used to show you your true purpose.

But generally, fear is negative. It’s the enemy to be confronted, battled with, and destroyed.

Except where there are cobras.

That’s right. Cobras. When there are cobras, fear is OK.

I played golf at the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) for legendary coach Mike Malarkey. Before I arrived, he had been there for approximately 317 years. One of his players in the late 1970’s was Ricky Gregg.

Ricky went on to play professionally in the early 1980’s and found himself in Bangkok, Thailand one hot summer. The weather, as you might expect for summer in Thailand was unbearable. Ricky’s strategy was to walk in the shade off the fairways as much as possible to escape the scorching sun.

His caddie, a young girl by the name of Prim, however, would not walk with him. She stayed out in the hot fairway carrying his heavy bag. Ricky kept asking her to join him, but she always refused. He was afraid for her health when he asked the caddy-master why she would not walk with him.

“That’s where the cobras are,” he said.

And that, my friends, is when fear is OK. When there are cobras in the rough…or anywhere.

Seriously, though, otherwise you must confront your fear. Because, unlike when fear tells you to stay away from cobras, fear normally tells you where to go. It tells you what you are most called to do and that scares you. So you run from it.

If there are no cobras, run to your fear. Embrace it. Tackle it head-on. Then conquer it. And reap the rewards.

What fears have you conquered?

14 thoughts on “When is Fear OK?

  1. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    How do you know when the risk of cobras is fear or imagined?

    1. Travis Scott says:

      I think most fear is imagined….we are all scared of something because we have created these horrible consequences in our mind. However, if you attack the fear, rarely do those worst case scenarios come to fruition.

      For example, I was absurdly scared to quit my first job out of college. I don’t if I thought my boss would punch me in the face or depants me in front of the rest of the team, but I was nervous. Guess what…he took me to lunch, wished me good luck, and told me there would always be a position open if I wanted to come back.

      As Jon Acuf says…punch fear in the face!

      1. Matt McWilliams says:

        Admittedly though, punching you or depantsing you would have been a much better story.

      2. Travis Scott says:


    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is a great question Karin and I tend to agree with @MrTravisScott:disqus

      Most of the time it is imagined. When I think of the last 6 things I totally dreaded (all involving confrontation, business risk, or asking for a favor), my fear was irrational. I ended up conquering the fear and what I imagined might happen never did.

  2. Carol Dublin says:

    I am still working on conquering it – the fear of not making an impact or a difference.

  3. Will Moye says:

    Snakes bad. Vols good. Go Vols! (Class of ’94…grew up in Knox-Vegas)

    1. Matt McWilliams says:


      I was allergic to Knoxville unfortunately. Every time I came back from visiting home, it took me two weeks to breathe. But overall I enjoyed it.

  4. Jon Stolpe says:

    Last summer, I faced and conquered a huge fear when I left my wife and son for 9 days to travel to Guatemala with my daughter. Much of the fear was related to being so far away from my wife. This is a long story in itself. The leap of faith decision to go was so worth it. I’m thankful for those who encouraged me to face my fears and to our God who protected during this time away.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is awesome Jon.

      When do you go back? Soon right?

      1. Jon Stolpe says:

        August 4th. We just had a big fundraising event for our trip tonight.

    2. Charly Priest says:

      I always found,during my time in the army(Spanish Legion that is not the U.S army) that fear either brakes you or you embrace it not letting get to you and overpower you but just have it as a friend, keeps you on your toes and it will make you stronger when you overcome it.

  5. Robert Kennedy III says:

    Dude!! Cobras or any sort of snake. I don’t care. It could be the garden variety! I’m totally out the door. Suppose I shouldn’t post this here because then someone could use it against me 🙂

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