Thursday, 3 September 2009

Does fear motivate or paralyse you?

I've never been fond of fear. So much bad stuff happens because of fear, but recently I've heard - from three different places - about the good side of fear.

I'm not superstitious, but the same message, said different ways, three times in a row tends to get my attention.

It started with Inside the Mind of the Turtles, an excellent book I recommend to anyone dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis. (So that's, like, everyone).

It has 7 principles for dealing with uncertainty. Number one is overcome your fear. So far, so good.

But as I read on, I realised that's just the beginning. There's some very healthy fear that happens when you stick your neck out and take a risk. You need to overcome fear's paralysing effect, face reality, and respond to it quickly. The right kind of adrenaline rush.

Next stop was Joseph Jaffe's interview with (well, monologue interrupted by) Jeremiah Owyang, where Joseph shared that his first boss, founder of Nandos Chicken, was motivated to great lengths (and successes) by a fear of getting it wrong. That was mind-blowing, most people who are afraid of getting it wrong don't do anything.

And today I heard a great interview with Phil McKinney and Geoffrey Moore (author of Crossing the Chasm) where they pretty much said the same thing. Fear motivates. That's why Apollo 11 happened ... because Sputnik was in the sky overhead, menacing, glowering. The moon had very little to do with it ... but thank God they did eventually go "in peace, for all mankind".

As I look back over my own career I see growth spurts that came about through negative situations. Bad motivations, that eventually forced me to find good motivations.

It's a mystery of life. Very bad stuff often produces very good stuff.

How do you harness fear in your life today?


Anonymous said...

I think it is impossible to avoid fear, but often fear in itself is not the enemy, it is what we do, how we we face fear, that leads to outcomes good or bad.
I have been facing my fears, and often I think, "why am I afraid" I haven't been in this situation before, so why should I fear it?" I think most fear comes from you not knowing what the outcome will be, like public speaking, it cripples many people, but most audiences want the speaker to succeed, and feel pain(ed) if the speaker is overcome with nerves.
Remember perfect love casts out fear!

Simon said...

Thanks Carl, very good points about fear being mostly related to the unknown.

At another conference last week, someone said we look back at history, not realising how unexpected it was in the first place. (eg world war I)