How Does Fear Manage Our Lives: Coffee With the CEO

There is the fear of jumping out of a crashing airplane, and then there is the fear of making a wrong decision in the workplace.

For the sake of argument, most people would fear jumping out of a crashing airplane. But, if we are highly motivated, we would do it. When faced with one’s life or death, the decision whether or not to do something happens quickly. In this scenario, the risk associated with jumping, though scary, is far less than the risk of impending death. The motivation to do something in the face of fear is very strong. The plane is careening towards the ground. If we are to survive, we must take action and jump; so we do it.

But, What About Fear At Work?

I’m using the crashing plane scenario to make a point. I am going to go out on a limb and say most of the decisions you will make at work are not life or death. However, the role fear plays is exactly the same. At ZMac, we are trying to help customers solve problems. We sell a service that none of our competitors do. But, when new team members have fear, they struggle to move forward. To me, this makes all your fears come true.

If you know me, then you know I believe the universe does not know the difference between good and bad; it will give you whatever you desire. If you believe you don’t know enough and you are afraid to talk to customers or ask additional questions to solve a problem, that is what you will keep getting. If you have a fear that customers won’t want to talk to you, that is what you will get.  If you are afraid you will be fired, that is what you will get.

The Power Of Turning Your Fears Around

Now let’s see what happens if we turn these fears around. If you believe you have the knowledge to make a difference in how our customers do business, those are the exact customers you will find. If you are steadfast in your belief that customers need and want to talk to you, you will have only those in your future, and your relationships will be hugely beneficial and long. If you know you are and will continue to be an asset to the organization, and you want nothing more than to finish your career here, then you have found a home.

You can allow yourself to be wonderful. We will support you and take care of you. Which set of items rings true to you? The “fear” side or the “I want to grow” side or perhaps somewhere in the middle? No judgment here, just making an observation so you can understand your current state and your desired state.

How Does Motivation Come Into Play At Work?

So back to the crashing airplane. If there are no life or death situations at work, do we need to do it? Do we want to do it? What is the risk? We might need to do it for the job, but we still believe the possible risk or fear is making us not want to do it. We know that motivation can trump risk. But, it has to be a good motivation; not life or death for us to bring more “want to” to the table. We always say we can’t make someone “want to” do anything. A certain amount of that must come from within ourselves.

Initially, we help coach this internal motivation by finding the right pieces to put together to create that state and create those habits, but without continued success, they start to wane. That is why we are always trying to stimulate risk-taking with a contest or a one-on-one meeting to keep people on track. This is the motivation part. We know it works every time. If we offer up a $100 bill to create some action, it always makes things happen that were not there yesterday.

People generally want to do the least amount because of the perceived risk of doing more or because it is uncomfortable to step outside your comfort zone. Ask yourself, “Do I need to do it? Do I want to do it? What is the risk?” At work, we need to do activities that will make us successful. We want to make more money, we want status, we want recognition, but still, that may not be enough to change action.

We have to create the belief that we need to do it and we want to do it, and there is zero risk, zero!  The real risk is staying comfortable with what you have now. I know I am not telling you anything you do not already know. How do I know that? If you are honest with yourself, reread this statement, out loud if you wish. The real risk is staying comfortable with what you have now. If something inside you wasn’t moved or your shoulders did not drop slightly, or there was no little voice inside your head saying, “that is so true,” then I am wrong.  If you did react like this, then you are like all the rest of us trying to get better every day, and not letting fear manage our lives.




Share this Post