“I’ve been through some terrible things in my life…some of which actually happened.”
There seems to be a lot of fear around these days. In the workplace, at home, in the world…there are things to be scared of around every corner.
And most of them don’t exist.
This was brought home recently when someone close to me chose Fear over Growth. This person was possessed of an overwhelming fear of the future, and chose to end a relationship rather than choose to grow the relationship to overcome any problems that could arise in the future.
I can’t fault the decision, as it seemed to bring this person some relief from the crushing fear that was a constant companion from a very young age. But I was saddened, because Fear is often based in a Mindset of scarcity and hopelessness.
In their book Play To Win, Larry and Hersch Wilson discuss the work of Dr. Maxie Maultsby, a renowned psychiatrist and teacher. Dr. Maultsby identified Four Fatal Fears that —consciously or unconsciously — operate in our lives. He called them “Fatal”, because they are driven by a belief that they may lead to death…at least, emotional death.
The Four Fatal Fears are:
- Being Wrong
- Emotional Discomfort
According to Dr. Maultsby, each of these Fears are driven by a Need:
- The Fear of Failure: I need to Succeed
- The Fear of Being Wrong: I need to be Right
- The Fear of Rejection: I need to be Accepted
- The Fear of Emotional Discomfort: I need to be Comfortable
These Needs are often a trap. In objective reality, we really only need air, food, water, shelter and some human contact. When we allow Fear to drive our lives, we add these Emotional Needs to the mix.
The problem is that these Fears/Needs don’t allow us to thrive in today’s world.
For example, the Fear of Being Wrong (I Need to be Right). If we are driven by this Fear/Need, we will avoid anything that risks our being wrong. Like making a decision. Or offering an idea. Or trying something new.
In our fast-changing world, no one has the answers. No one is certain of being right. No one can avoid being wrong, at least partially or part of the time.
When we choose Fear, we are choosing to give up life’s opportunities to avoid a future catastrophe…one that we are “making up” and one that, as Twain described, may not happen.
As Michael Lonergan, a former colleague, once put it, “Fear doesn’t play well with others.” When we operate in Fear, we are basing our actions on a mindset of Scarcity and No Trust. There’s not enough: Success, Money, Opportunity, whatever. And we can’t trust anyone or anything. Everything’s out to get us.
On the other hand, when we choose Growth, we are basing our actions on a mindset of Abundance and Trust. There is plenty of everything, especially opportunities. We operate from a place of Trust, especially in ourselves.
Choosing Growth isn’t easy. It requires that we consciously choose to:
- Face our Fears
- Examine what we are “making up”
- “Make up” things that will lead us to the results we want
- Believe that life is about Thriving, not simply Surviving
It requires Courage to really live, to face our Fears (both real and imagined) and to move forward and grow as human beings. We are not here to simply survive, to “get through” life. We are meant for bigger things.
Much, much bigger things.