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« Urgency and accountability are two sides of the innovation coin | Main | How to write copy that goes viral »

Avoiding fear by indulging in our fear of fear

Every day, we make a thousand little compromises, avoid opportunities, actions and people--all so that we can stay away from the emotion of fear.

Note that I didn't say, "so we can stay away from what we fear." No, that's something else entirely. Right now, most of us are avoiding the things that might merely trigger the emotion itself. That's how distasteful it is to us.

The alternative? To dance with it. To seek out the interactions that will trigger the resistance and might make us uncomfortable.

Are we trying to avoid the unsafe? Or merely the feeling of being unsafe? Increasingly, these are completely different things.

Due to 'enhanced security' a recent bike event in New York City forbade the 30,000 riders from carrying hydration packs. No practical reason, just the desire to avoid fear.

The upcoming exam doesn't get studied for, not because studying is risky, but because studying reminds us that there's a test coming up.

We loudly keep track of all the failures of commission around us, but never mention the countless failures of omission, all the mistakes that were made by not being bold. To track those, to remind ourselves of the projects not launched or the investments not made is to encounter our fear of forward motion. (So much easier to count typos than it is to mention the paragraphs never written.)

There's no other reason for not having a will, a health proxy, an insurance policy or an up to date checkup. Apparently, while it's not risky to plan for our demise, it generates fear, which we associate with risk, and so we avoid it.

It's simple: the fear that used to protect us is now our worst enemy.

Easier to avoid the fear than it is to benefit from living with it. I've heard the quote a thousand times but never really thought it through...


Hence the opportunity. If you do things that are safe but feel risky, you gain a signfiicant advantage in the marketplace.

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