Category Archives: fear

The Problem with Anger

I played sports as a youngster and inevitably, this meant listening to a “pep talk” by the coach before the game. Pep talks were supposed to motivate players and at least in my generation, coaches often felt that this was best done by instilling a certain amount of anger at the opposition.

So doe anger motivate? There are people who would argue “yes”. Pat Riley, for example, has said that having an “enemy” is a key part of becoming great. If you have a great enemy, supposedly you will become greater than if your enemy is somewhat hapless. You focus anger at your competition and that takes you — hopefully — to heightened awareness of the need to defeat him or her.

But there are studies that makes one wonder. Psychologists have discovered, for example, that angry people have greater difficulty solving problems than people who are not angry. It appears that anger makes us a bit stupid. Plus we know that anger is a sticky and transferable emotion. Once you get angry, you tend to stay that way for a while. So when your boss yells at you in the morning, you might be more likely to kick the poor doggie in the evening. In that light, consider this rather alarming tidbit

The vast majority of our day-to-day anger (over 80% in one U.S. study) is directed at family and friends

That does not mean that family and friends are making us angry. But it does suggest that our anger may be a bit out of control.

So — form a strategic sense, anger is not a great tool to pull out of your toolbox just to get out of bed in the morning. Nor is it a great tool to get you learning. There are other and better tools. And my strategic learning model helps you to see and use them! Interested? Let me know!

Brett Brown and Risk

Strategy is about coping with future unknowns. You can’t know these things because they haven’t happened yet. And the key strategic challenge is to reach into that bowl of unknowns and pull out an amazing focus point or points that bring your future to life.

But that involves taking risks. A lot of folks don’t like to take risk, and indeed psychologists tell us that humans are biased against choices that involve risk of loss. So assuming you have the model to think strategically, how do you cope with fear of failure?

Sometimes stories help. Check out this story of NBA coach Brett Brown, who has and continues to take quite a lot of career risks. Or at least it looks that way from the outside.

Jennifer Lopez on Fear

BI offers a profile of Ms Lopez and her new book “True Love”. The grabber

for Jennifer Lopez, whose list of accomplishments runs the gamut from selling platinum albums to starring in movies to designing her own clothing and fragrance lines, staying with one steady gig too long can hold you back from pursuing bigger — and sometimes riskier — things. 

She writes

“I had been so afraid of it all — afraid I would fail, afraid people would criticize me… And then I realized if I didn’t believe in myself, nobody else would either… If I didn’t do this tour, I’d probably regret it for the rest of my life… I loved being on Idol, but it was time to move on. It didn’t make sense for me to spend a third year in a row sitting on a panel, judging other singers, especially if the main reason I was doing it was for the security of it.”

Most of us don’t have the capital or network that Ms Lopez enjoys. And so it is easy to dismiss her admission of fear as part of an ego play. And way to get attention. But I think this is real. Climbing higher on the ladder does not eliminate the fear factor. In fact, it may increase it. If you have more to lose, you have more reasons to play it safe.

is that so bad? In the short run, it may not seem that way. But the more you play it safe, the more you slow down the learning game. That is always dangerous.