The impact of fear in the workplace

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Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He is right. Statistically speaking, when you take a shot, there’s a 50/50 chance that you hit the target. When you don’t take the shot you just don’t miss the ones that do not go in, but also the ones that should. Often, the decision not to take a chance is motivated by fear.

Dunk in action. A dunk

Fear is a funny human emotion. Fear has driven us to adapt to our environment. It triggers adrenaline, which increases our pain endurance during stressful events. Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs feared being unprepared for the afterlife, so they decided to build the Pyramids. Archimedes was motivated by fear, and he discovered the concept of buoyancy. Fear of Soviet domination made America invest billions in research for Space R&D, thereby winning the space race. Fear is a good thing when properly channeled.

Humans fear being left behind, that’s why we struggle to get more information to stay ahead. The most prepared army is the most informed. This is very common, even at work. We take trainings to develop our skills (we offer this service. Click here to read more). We do this so we don’t become obsolete. But every so often, we get to a particular point in our lives, and we stop pushing.

We find it harder to learn new things. It’s not comfortable for us. It’s either too stressful or hard. We want to live comfortably, but we are reluctant to put in the effort. This is called a state of lethargy. As you might have guessed, it’s very bad for human development long-term.

There are several ways to overcome this reluctance to trying out new things

  1. Just do it: Look around you. What’s the one thing that is out of place? That one task you’ve been postponing for ages. Just get up and do it. Don’t wait for any prompting or when it’s 2:30pm. Just do it. This helps build self-discipline and you tend to make decisions faster. You don’t have to even do it right, the point is to get moving, then figure out the rest later. 
  2. Gamify learning: Humans have a fondness for games. To prove this point, the gaming industry is currently worth more than $175 billion. For comparison, the global movie industry crossed into $100 billion for the first time in 2019. Treat yourself to something nice whenever you attempt something new. Bonus points for difficulty and completion. 
  3. Think long-term: Whenever I face a new challenge, the first question that pops in my head is, “what new skill will I learn when I solve this problem?”. This makes me more open to completing the task. Which in turn brings me closer to my long-term goals.

There are so many other tips that can be applied to different people in different scenarios. The point is to never remain in the same position, keep on evolving. If you’re not going forward, don’t stay in the same position.

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