Fear As A Positive Motivator

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Your Response and Reaction Control Your Results

Seth Godin often has interesting and provocative and useful little posts on his blog at:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

For Example:

Waiting for the fear to subside

There are two problems with this strategy:

A. By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late. By the time you’re not afraid of what you were planning to start/say/do, someone else will have already done it, it will already be said or it will be irrelevant. The reason you’re afraid is that there’s leverage here, something might happen. Which is exactly the signal you’re looking for.

B. The fear certainly helps you do it better. The fear-less one might sleep better, but sleeping well doesn’t always lead to your best work. The fear can be your compass, it can set you on the right path and actually improve the quality of what you do.

Listen to your fear but don’t obey it.

This post reminded me of two things. First, my old friend Susan Jeffer’s accaimed book, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. I did the narration for her first audio tape on this subject, and she made an important point, that you don’t have to let fear immobilize you. The second thing it reminded me of was a lot more recent, just this month, when I scheduled the monthly film showing at Unity San Francisco and chose Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life.

In this thought-provoking comedy, Brooks dies at the very beginning of the movie, and his character goes to a place called Judgment City, which looks a bit like Las Vegas. There he meets and falls for Meryl Streep, and has to defend nine video segments from his past life on Earth. What he is defending against is fear that kept him from making good decisions or taking positive action. If fear can be proved by the prosecutor, the defendant has to go back to Earth and start all over again in a new life. If the defendant proves he or she has overcome fear, then they are whisked off to heaven.  Albert Brooks is your basic wuss in his episodes that start with being bullied as a child. But he displays some courage at the end, motivated by love and lust and fear of being alone.

A psychologist friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Barton Knapp, once stated that he thought fear was an excellent motivator, and was often involved as such when someone achieved great success in life. It might be fear of poverty, or of not being able to provide for one’s family, or, like Albert Brooks, fear of being unloved and alone. All of these fears can trigger positive action and forward momentum. We can react and respond to fear twitching and trembling, or by dancing around and beyond it.

Mark Twain put it this way:

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.

And one of my own quotes on the subject is often tweeted and quoted online:

Confront your fears, list them, get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead.

I therefore disagree with FDR’s “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” I think the only thing to fear is allowing fear to take charge, hold us back, limit our options, and minimize our risk-taking.

And can you visualize an appropriate episode from your own life in which you exhibited fear, and try defending yourself against this as Albert Brooks had to in the movie. Then, you might try visualizing how you imagine things might have turned out if you felt the fear and did it anyway.

Jerry

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