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"Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." -Yoda
Nihil timendum est is Latin for fear nothing, and is one of the more potent strategies you can embrace.
Nearly all problems are overcome by taking a fearless approach. If you consider what’s stopping you from achieving your goals with marketing, business, art, even your personal life, the largest inhibitor to success is most likely fear.
It is fear that stops you from trying something new because you might fail. And who could possibly get upset at you for following the standard process or “best practices.” It’s safer. But what kind of life are you living if you always play it safe? You might as well not even get out of bed in the morning. Failure is beautiful and should be embraced.
Fear makes it difficult, perhaps impossible for many to consider a new career path, even if they are unhappy with their current. Most will suffer silently for long periods before facing their fear. Of course, this is not a logical course of action – life is short, time is precious and ultimately you live with regrets by not acting. No one died wishing they lived life more fearful.
Fear even removes you from leaving a great job to pursue a new one which poses different challenges. You don’t have to be unhappy to leave a job – you could just have a thirst for knowledge and something different, or desire to work with an industry leader. But fear will take control and make you you come up with excuses which paralyze you from action.
Fear causes you to make irrational decisions with investments, while playing sports and at the poker table. People at the top of their game in all of these high stakes situations work daily to manage their reaction to this debilitating stress response. Those who win consistently maintain composure in the face of daunting or seemingly impossible situations, (while those with lesser track records cave to emotions). Even when they don’t win. What’s the worst that can happen, after all? You simply get back up.
The theme of fear is one that authors Robert Greene and Seth Godin have been pushing lately and I’ve been rather enjoying it from both of them. In fact, the title of this post. “fear nothing,” is inscribed on the back of Greene’s latest work, The 50th Law – a worthy follow-up to the 48 laws of power.
In Linchpin, Godin frames fear as an autonomic reaction programmed into our DNA as protection in a pre-civilized society. Fear served a purpose: it protected us from very real dangerous in the world. It temporarily altered our neurochemical balance to provide us the energy necessary for fight-or-flight. In modern society most of us live with minimal risk of physical dangers, but not without this ingrained reaction to stimulus. This artifact of evolution isn’t relevant in situations your life isn’t in danger, and you should train yourself to ignore it. It merely blinds you to reality.
You need to learn to master your autonomic reactions such as fear. It’s typical to react immediately based on your body’s impulses, and is how most people respond to events. But it’s the common reaction, it’s average to react this way.
Instead of being typical, process information and react to events with a measured, logical approach. Let decisions be driven not by fear or what’s safe, but by your intellect and creativity. Remember – both of these items are suppressed when you allow fear to rule.
In the past, many designed strategies to inspire fear. They exploited the masses predictable reactions for profit or control. However, this strategy only worked in a closed information society. Even if they were exposed, in most cases it would happen long after objectives had been achieved. The web is allowing us to disarm this fear at scale in real time. Inflicting the masses with fear for desired objectives, while still in play today by unscrupulous marketers, media and politicians is fast becoming a relic. We call things for what they are, and it is almost comical how fast these relics of a previous era are being taken down.
The leaders of our world that make a difference, the artists we’re inspired by, the teachers who refuse to give up – they embody strength, confidence and fearlessness. They learned long ago that fear was not a relevant or useful reaction, rather one which worked against their goals and dragged them down. For deciding to leave fear behind them, their work changes the world and leads others in a better direction.
What’s the truth I’ve realized about fear? It’s something caused internally and nearly always within your control to ignore or allow when you learn to process it, put it in perspective or simply filter it out. It’s whether you decide to take this control, or let it control you that defines your character, path of life and success.