Fear and the real cost of not taking action
Our ancestors had real life-threatening dangers to fear: wild animals, starvation, freezing, being struck by lightning, being killed by other tribes, etc. So evolution offered them a system do assess and deal with these situations: fight or flight response. The system was very good – hence we exist today.
Hundreds of thousands of years passed and here we are, the modern humans, in a very advanced society. No wild animals chasing us, in most countries there is no imminent danger to be killed by others, we now know the probability of being struck by lightning is very low, we can heat or cool our advanced homes just by talking to a device. And we throw over 30% of the produced food – so no danger here, as well.
However, we seem to be more fearful than our ancestors were. It appears that we even master the art of being fearful to such a degree, that we’re now at the height of defining new things to be afraid of. Such as….the fear of nothing.
Yes, that’s right. The vast majority of the things, events, outcomes that we fear are just not real. They are in our imagination. They do not exist in the present moment when we actually manifest the fear.
None of the original real dangers are here anymore. Oh, but wait, we can now calculate the risks and take action accordingly. Like – most often than not – no action at all.
Look, there is quite a lot of snow outside – there is a risk of collision or being stuck in my car – I better cancel my meetings today. Oh, if I apply to this job, there is the risk of not being called to the interview, so why bother. If I take a chance and disrupt my business strategy, it might not work, so I better stay put.
You could say, but hey, I know there’s a very high probability for this bad outcome to happen because it happened before to me/my friend/other similar businesses/etc. Yes, except that nothing is the same.
There are no 2 identical situations in the whole world, because of one or more of the following:
- You are not the same person you were when the other situation happened
- It happened in a different time and/or in a different place
- You could have different tools, knowledge, systems, etc. available now that you didn’t have before
- Life is so complex that you can never replicate the same event having all the identical elements present at the same time, in the same place, with the same people involved
On an equally important perspective, let’s say there is a high assessed probability that the undesired outcome will happen. What is the cost of not happening? What is the missed opportunity cost? What is the cost of not taking action?
Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” What a great truth!
I had 2 amazing coaching sessions recently. My clients are true Champions. The traffic was crazy, snow everywhere, it was the most difficult day for moving around the Vancouver area, even more so for downtown. I was talking to some of my friends and they were saying most of their meetings were cancelled by the people they were supposed to meet with. Not only both my clients showed up for coaching, but they were also both early and they achieved great progress in our sessions and beyond. I’m so proud of them and so grateful that I can coach them.
What if they decided the weather is so bad that it’s not worth it to come and work on their progress? One of them disrupted the time-span of what she thought it’s possible to monetize a product by years, yes by years. She brought it in the present, in the now. She’s a champion!
The second client had a mindset of what’s possible about the revenue that was $X. By the end of our session, she decided that $10X is not only possible, but she set to achieve it! She’s a Champion!
What is the cost of you not taking action? What would Edison tell you? How about Einstein? Or Churchill? They all decided to take shots and accepted the possibility of failure for hundreds and thousands of times.
This is one of my favourite quotes because MJ is one of my all-time mentors and icons both in personal and professional life:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot … and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan.
Have a great day!