The Truth about Fear

by Ron

This post may have fit well with the recent Balancing Act series. There is an interesting point between fear and excitement. Staying balanced can be healthy. Too much fear is detrimental to your health. Too much excitement with little regard for fear can be fatal. The Darwin Awards are built on this last premise. The Darwin Awards give the highest honor (tong-in-cheek) to those who remove themselves from the gene pool by doing really stupid things.

Fear and excitement produce the same physiological effect. The body can’t distinguish between the two so the brain has to make a judgment. Should I be fearful at this moment or simply excited?

If you haven’t seen anything by Jordon Peterson lately you should look him up. He’s saying things that create a lot of reaction mainly because they are simply the truth that people don’t want to hear. In his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, rule number 8 is “Tell the Truth – or, at least, don’t lie”.

The truth about fear is that lies are intended to avoid fear while actually creating it. Jordon says

Taking the easy way out or telling the truth – those are not merely two different choices. They are different pathways through life. They are utterly different ways of existing.

Existing in a world of lies leads to fear.

Someone living a life-lie is attempting to manipulate reality with perception, thought and actions so that only some narrowly desired and pre-defined outcome is allowed to exist.

When you don’t open up to the truth by listening to others (His Rule 9 is: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t), you begin creating a world as only you see it.

Peterson goes on to say:

If you betray yourself, if you say untrue things, if you act out a lie, you weaken your character. If you have a weak character, that adversity will mow you down when it appears, as it will, inevitably. You will hide, but there will be no place left to hide. And then you will find yourself doing terrible things. Willful blindness is the worst sort of lie.

You can pick up Peterson’s book if you want to see his other 10 rules for avoiding chaos. They are all good and some are surprising.

In my work I’m always trying to help leadership teams behave calmly in the chaos or at least make sense out of is so that fear doesn’t take over. One of the better mental models that I turn to is Aristotle’s Levels of Happiness. The highest level, Level IV, I believe creates great teams. The first element of Level IV is Truth. Speaking it. Discovering it. Acting on it. Teams that seek the truth by listening (with the intent to understand) to each other avoid the fear and chaos of dealing with lies.

One last quote from Peterson’s book:

You can use words to manipulate the world into delivering what you want. This is what it means to “act politically.”

Don’t act politically. It leads to fear. Act truthfully. It leads to happiness.

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