Beliefnet
It happened just a short while ago in Florida at thebeachside town where I grew up and am now visiting.

I usually begin my day by jogging barefoot in the water forabout a half mile, then swimming back through the surf towhere I started. In the years I grew up doing this, I've runinto a fair share of jellyfish (though somehow never havebeen stung), been nipped by cantankerous crabs (moreshocking than painful), and even have been joined for shortstretches by curious porpoises and manta rays.

However, I have never once encountered a shark. Of courseI've seen many small ones reeled ashore on an excitedfisherman's line. But in the 25-plus years I'veeither lived at or visited this beach, I've never seen ashark's fin slicing through the water near me or even fromafar.

This year, however, there happened to be a few shark attacks along the Florida coast, with the majority ofthem occurring at Ponce Inlet, about 30 miles south of whereI'm staying. Ponce Inlet is where the Intercoastal Waterwayjoins the ocean. The unusual habitat attracts a lot ofbait-fish, which attracts a higher number of sharks. Becauseof the better waves, surfers also are attracted to thisarea.

Almost all the shark attacks occur with the surfers. Withtheir feet dangling in the water, sharks are fooled intothinking they are grabbing a nice-sized fish. When theyrealize "the morsel" is attached to something much larger,they let go, leaving a foot needing a fair share ofstitches, a surfer with a great story to tell, and local and worldwide news networks with a great clip to scare the holymackerel out of all their viewers.

A number of people at the condo where I'm staying have seenme swimming in the surf from their balconies. When I runinto some of them on the elevator, they ask me if I'mfamiliar with all the shark attacks taking place.

One lady did me the favor of telling me in precise detailhow Tiger Sharks don't just "bite," they "GNAW."

Another neighbor I ran into on the beach went into detail onhow many sharks he's seen in the water. While he wasdescribing how he would never go swimming here, he suddenlyexclaimed, "Look, there's a fin now!"

I whirled around to where he was pointing. Truly caught upas I was in his dramatic testimony, I thought for a secondthat I saw a fin, too. Then I saw another one, and another,and another, just to realize that the ever-changing shapesand shadows of moving surf easily resembled a shark fin,especially if that's what you've got on your mind.

As if to confirm my imagination, my neighbor confirmed,"Yeah, that was a Black-tipped Reef Shark!" With a shiver,he stated, "If it was me, I wouldn't go in that water!"

Besides me, tens of millions of "unsuspecting tourists"every year "risk life and limb" in the water.

However, this year, with the press and my neighbors making abig splash about shark attacks every day, I couldn't helpbut be affected by all the negative input.

Though I didn't stop going into the water, my thoughts wereconsumed by Tiger Sharks and Black-tipped Reef Sharksbearing down on me, and what measures I would need to takeif attacked-e.g. poking them in the eyes and pounding themon the snout (yeah, right).

The net effect was I began constantly scanning the wateraround me for approaching fins, ruining all the pleasure Igot from attuning myself more to the waves and the sheer joythe ocean provides. I felt I needed to do something.

I approached one of the lifeguards on the beach and, alreadyknowing the answer (remember, I grew up here), sheepishlyasked, "Hey, what's the story with the shark attacks here. Imean, should I be worrying?"

The lifeguard laughed and replied, "I spend allday staring out at the water, and in my two years of doingthis, I've never once seen anything. Sheesh, I wish I would. might make my job a little more interesting!"

I was somewhat comforted, but that still didn't erase allthe anxiety I had built up.

What finally allowed me to return to the water with a clearhead was when-ironically-I was watching a television show on shark attacks. One of the interviewed scientists stated that thereare less than 100 shark attacks on humans worldwide peryear, and only a fraction of these attacks are fatal.

When I considered the tens of millions of visitors who visitthe local beaches alone, something clicked in my head thatmade me understand how unnecessary it was to even thinkabout such low percentage odds.

Now, my questions for you.

  • How many shark attacks have you survived?
  • How many perceived fears have you let stop YOU from tryingsomething new?
  • How many "warnings of failure" by supposed friends havehalted you in your tracks from pursuing your dreams?
  • How many fears of rejection have prevented you from being ahero and lifting someone else up and yourself as well?
  • If you want to have a life well lived, heed the following "Wealthy Soul" Action Steps to accomplish your goals and dreams:

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