Fight Fear

Don’t let fear determine your fate.

A popular song right now has a similar line in it, and every time I hear it I find myself nodding in agreement, both from an organizational and individual perspective.

Fear drives a lot of human behavior. PTP New Media’s James Robert Lay and I have discussed this on more than one occasion. Heck–fear drives organizational behavior too, for that matter. What if no one buys our new widget? What if we don’t generate enough revenue to support our charitable endeavors? What if this new marketing campaign is too edgy and pisses off some of the more stodgy members of our target audience? Or worse yet–what if it’s so vanilla that no one at all finds it to be…well…anything at all?

It’s a scary time to be in business. At least that’s how a lot of folks seem to look at it. The economy is especially uncertain (though to be fair, can you remember a time the economy was just downright predictable?).  The workforce is tricky right now; there are a lot of people out of work, yet at the same time they don’t seem to be jumping at just any opportunity that comes along.

“We need to be more efficient,” while an appropriate and certainly smart admonition, has employees cringing, hoping that it doesn’t mean something other than that their particular organization simply needs to be more efficient. There are questions galore: Will our products and services help propel us into the future? How late to market is too late? Will this or that product or service attract this or that golden calf demographic? What if it doesn’t? What about our strategy? Is it too general? Too specific? Does it position us to aggressively pursue success (whatever that means)? What if we don’t evolve? What do we do about our people?

There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot an organization could conceivably–and maybe appropriately–be worried about.

It’s not awfully different with individuals. We ask ourselves a lot of questions as we lie staring at the ceilings in our respective bedrooms. I guess maybe in some ways the darkness provides a feeling of safety and we can push ourselves to answer the tough questions we pose. Is this really what I want to be doing right now? Does my work really matter? Is it at all meaningful? To whom? How? Am I successful? Do I have what it takes? Will I ever get that promotion? Do I even deserve it? If I coach my teammate, what will they think of me?

Sometimes it goes even deeper for some people. What if I never amount to anything? What if I can’t ever dig out of this depression? What if the cancer comes back?

Individuals have to fight. Organizations have to fight.

Let’s fight the fear. Together.

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