Thursday, February 26, 2009

duck on fire

Kelley did a guest post yesterday over at Learning Voyager. It's all about how fear kills focus and yet, paradoxically, how focus reduces fear. I have some minor quibbles with the semantics--I don't think it's pure fear so much as anxiety that kills focus--but the general sentiment is spot on.

I've talked before about the Armenian proverb that goes something like: get the load off your mind and onto your shoulders. In others words, don't fret, do. Some people interpret that as do do do, running to keep your balance, doing without cease so you don't have to think. Or, as we say in our house, paddling madly like a duck on fire.

Kelley doesn't say this--it's more than my life's worth to put words in her mouth--but the way I see all this is: to survive, you have to face what you fear. Kelley is talking specifically about business, but I think it applies to most things. The most important attribute in hard times is bravery.

So be brave. Stop running from the bogie monster, turn around and look it in the eye. Acknowledge the worst case scenario. Then figure out how likely that worst case is. Probable? Or just plain ridiculous, a fear image based on childhood traumas? Take a breath. Think. Build a mental model and then play with it. What If your fears. If you play in earnest, you'll find your fears are smaller than you think, smaller than you. You can win. If you think you can win, you can cope. Once you're coping you can identify a solution. Once you've identified a solution you can draw up a plan. Then you go out and make it happen.

But none of that is possible if you're running, if you're paddling madly like a duck on fire.

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