Monday, October 26, 2009

Fear – Motivator or Restrictor?

I recently watched the new Tyson documentary. Besides being an interesting take on a very complex individual, it revealed a side of Tyson I had never seen before. The big theme throughout the film was fear. Early in his career, Tyson used fear as a motivator. He was afraid of being embarrassed. He feared embarrassing himself in front of millions of people by losing a fight. So he used that fear to push himself to train harder.

Later in his career, after his release from jail for a rape conviction, fear changed for him. He was no longer afraid of losing or being embarrassed. He was afraid of being betrayed by those closest to him. He no longer trusted anyone after his (in his mind, false) rape conviction. The fear that once molded him into one of the badest men in the world, now became his demise.

This got me thinking about fear and how it affects everything. Everyone has fears that shape their lives. Fear of commitment, fear of moving to a new city, fear of moving to a new job, fear of taking a risk, fear of not taking a risk; you name it, someone has a fear of it. The thing I find most interesting is the difference between people who use fear as a motivator and people who allow their fears to hold them back.

Fear plays a big roll in business. The good companies seem to use fear as a motivator to try new things. Attacking the competition or going after a new target market, could open your product to a new line of consumers. Going with the new campaign, even though it might alienate a few members of your current customer base, takes a healthy control of fear. And if the new campaign is a total flop, using that fear to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again is key to managing fear in the future.

So my question to you is how do you handle fear? Do you use your personal fear to make you better? Do you use the fears of your clients to make them better?


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