Fear is the Mind Killer
In our conversation with Tim Draper, he described fear as the driver for many poor decisions. Whether you are fearful of taking the next step in your career or sidestepping to a different role, fearful of starting your own business, or fearful about investing in a new venture, fear is always the wrong driver to pay attention to when it comes to decision making. If you are a leader of an organization, especially during the pandemic, it is easy to get caught up in making decisions based on fear. We live in a time of uncertainty, but this is a time to make bold decisions, not decisions based on fear.
Fear is the Mindkiller
In our conversation with Tim Draper, he described fear as the driver for many poor decisions. Whether you are fearful of taking the next step in your career or sidestepping to a different role, fearful of starting your own business, or fearful about investing in a new venture, fear is always the wrong driver to pay attention to when it comes to decision making.
If you are a leader of an organization, especially during the pandemic, it is easy to get caught up in making decisions based on fear. We live in a time of uncertainty, but this is a time to make bold decisions, not decisions based on fear.
Tim Draper says, “Every fear decision I have made has been the wrong decision. Every bold decision I have made hasn’t always been right, but it has always created a more interesting and satisfying outcome….I believe that anytime fear is involved, it sends you down the wrong pipe. It sends you into a rat hole you do not want to get into.”
Fear-based decision making comes from your irrational mind. It is made based on our primal fight or flight instinct. Sometimes it is better to walk away from a challenging situation; other times, it is better to stay and fight your way through it. But when fear is involved, you are most likely going to pull the wrong lever. If you continue down this path, little by little, you will relinquish your ability to control the situation and lead with thoughtfulness.
Learning to identify when you are making a decision based on fear is an important step. Here are three ways to determine if you are in a fear-based decision mode.
1. Are you putting things off?
Most of the time, fear-based decisions are characterized by a failure or reluctance to act. The time you decided not to invest in yourself or did not act on an opportunity. If you are leading an organization, fear of hurting an employee’s feelings could keep you from taking needed corrective action.
Ask yourself — are you procrastinating or making excuses about taking some actions? Why? If you’re holding off because you’re worried about failure, or concerned about what others might think, you’re probably listening too much to your emotions — fear in particular — not your rational mind.
Tim Draper said his biggest failures were when fear caused him to pass on great investment opportunities, including Google. He says, “Now when I find myself at a fork in the road, as Yoggie Bera says, I take it.”
Flipping this decision upside down may help you look at it in a different light. Look at the positives of what WILL happen if you make a decision vs. doing nothing at all. Failure to act comes from the hesitation to try something new. It is uncomfortable to be in a new environment, but often that’s exactly what needs to happen.
2. Are you ignoring your gut?
Do you keep having the feeling that you should do something, take some action, but you keep shoving it aside? Maybe you’re telling yourself that a steady paycheck is better than going out on your own. Maybe you’re telling yourself that overworking is normal and that there isn’t anything else out there for you. It can be disruptive to listen to your gut, but your gut instinct is often correct, as the adage goes.
You’ve got to push through the unknown and take that first step. Perhaps start with updating your LinkedIn profile and network or see what is out there. Start researching a new industry or career path. Build an understanding of the steps you need to take to get there. Set-up a time to have coffee with an old colleague and bounce your new business idea off of them. Listen to your gut, and take the first step.
3. Are you being a pessimist or “realist?”
By definition, pessimists are driven by negative thoughts and emotions. When you look at a problem in a negative light it’s easy to find reasons to avoid action. Sure, a pessimist will always be able to identify risks and point out reasons why an idea won’t work. But opportunities will always pass the pessimist by, while the optimist is driven to find solutions for the problems that stand in the way.
Tim Draper says, “If you are a pessimist or realist, you are never really going to accomplish anything…If you are an optimist, you might fail, but you will have made a big impact if you succeed.”
Try to forget the doubts and the fear of the unknown. Inaction is the worst action. Look at the positives. What happens if you DO succeed? What opportunities open up to you? It takes practice, and it doesn’t happen overnight, so find a mentor or a person you trust to help guide you through the process. Just remember, if you never try, you will never succeed.