How to Win the Battle for Control Over Your Mind: Introducing a Model for Winning Wars

What keeps you up at night? And what are you doing about it in the morning? This blog post will help you confront and learn how to overcome the fears that are holding you back from achieving your dreams.

Fear is like a weed

Fear is more pernicious than any negative emotion, more toxic than any dark feeling, more paralyzing than any poisonous thought. Fear aims to tell you one lie and one lie only: that you are not as great as your dreams. Fear is like a weed. A weed’s goal is to sap the plant of vigor, deprive it of nutrients, restrict its access to light, and ultimately render its target valueless. Fear’s goal is very much the same, and so it locks itself in an existential struggle with dreams. Weeds wrestle plants on the ground; fear combats dreams in the mind.

The battle for control over your mind

To quote a line from my book, DREAM: “Your dreams will always exist side by side with your fears. Both are products of your rich imagination. And only you have the power to make one or the other a reality.” In other words, you get to cast the tie-breaking vote on which wins: your dreams or your fears. It’s a battle; one whose outcome determines everything from where you get to spend time and money to how you will be remembered. It’s a fight you must win.

Introducing a model for winning wars

To win any extensive duel, it is important to recognize a fundamental battle equation. This equation represents a basic philosophy that can be applied to any arena of conflict, that is, any situation where two opposing forces are fighting to enforce their own will on the other. This theory of war was first proposed by that great military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz, who stated that victory in the theater of war is partly dependent on the combination of “moral and physical forces.”

For our purposes, we can restate this as:

Likelihood of Success = Will * Available (Mental) Resources

The equation above will serve as our guide on how to overcome fears. In simple English, it means that the chance of success in a battle is the product of determination and supplies. This equation—our guide—is an example of a mathematical model, so let me give a quick word on this. Mathematical models reduce the complexity of reality into a manageable number of variables that acceptably describe the phenomenon under consideration. In discounting some variables, models sacrifice exactness for usefulness. This battle equation is no different. In deriving it, I have ignored factors such as the terrain of the battleground and the vagaries of luck to focus on the two most important predictors of success: will and available resources.

The greater your will, your resolve, to win, the more likely you will. Also, the more resources at your disposal, the greater your chance of success. These resources can be material, e.g., money, physical assets, etc., or they can be mental, e.g., knowledge of how something works. I recognize that these two factors can interact with each other: an ironclad will can increase resourcefulness, for “where there is a will, there is a way,” and availability of means can ginger up the will. For sake of clarity, however, we will ignore this potential for mutual dependency and leave our model in its simple form of A = B * C.

Border 2.png

"The greater your will, your resolve, to win, the more likely you will."

-Michael Taiwo, author of DREAM

Please don’t get lost in the jargon. The takeaway from the discussion so far is that to overcome an enemy that is trying to overcome you, you need to make up your mind to fight and fight well (Will), and you also need the wherewithal to fight (Available Resources). The more of one or the other or both that you have, the better your odds of winning. The remainder of this article will briefly touch on how to increase our store of each of these two prime factors.

How to bolster the will

Fear aims to keep you in place. It wants to prevent you from taking that next step. To override the inertia that fear creates, you must hate the present enough to act. If you see your current state as not that bad, then the courage to fight for your dream will be lacking, especially in the face of opposition. It may be true that your current situation is tolerable, but to acknowledge this is to lose the war for change. Have you ever heard a politician say, “Things are going good right now as they are, but still vote for me anyway?” No! They say, “All hell is breaking loose, things are not working, and I can help you be great again.” Take a page out of their playbook and tell yourself that your status is not half-bad, but totally bad. Make yourself mad about how things are so you can summon the will to change.

Amassing resources to fight

The first step to victory is to realize the type of fight you are in. You don’t want to bring the proverbial knife to a gun fest. Therefore, you need to ask “What am I really afraid of?” Avoid answers such as I am afraid of failure or I am afraid of the unknown or other such labels that have been used a thousand times. Think deeper. What are you afraid of, really? Instead of using a trite tag such as failure, maybe say I am afraid of losing my entire life savings on this business proposal. You can go even deeper than that:  I am afraid of not having money when I am old because I lost my life savings on this deal.

These are just examples to illustrate the point. You need to come up with your “core fear,” i.e., the thing you are really afraid of. This is not a trivial task; it is the most important move you will make in conquering your fears. I am available (just send an email to to help you through this process of correctly diagnosing your core fear. An accurate diagnosis is half the cure after all. (To Be Continued) 



Break your fears today

For inspiration on how to overcome your fears, check out the book Dream: A Little Reminder to Graduates and Anyone Beginning Anew by Michael Taiwo