Irrational fear and the waterfall

Jumping off a waterfall

You walk up to the edge of the waterfall. You look over the edge at the drop. It seems a bit higher than it really is. It’s a few meters or so. The water underneath is a beautiful green blue. It’s a popular place to swim and jump off. It’s deep enough and wide enough for some safe fun jumping action. You know it’s cool to do it. In fact, you’ve jumped off the same place a number of times. It’s always been a bit scary, but worth taking the plunge and a joyous relief when you do. But still, looking over the edge is nerve wracking, and the longer you look, the worse it seems. The fear takes over, and you become irrational about the risk. You hesitate and doubt yourself. Eventually you jump, and it turns out OK. Then you remember that it was always going to be Ok and you should’ve jumped much sooner.

I had a week full of waterfall moments.

I’m working on a number of projects where I’ve had to have uncomfortable discussions, and all of them have seemed more daunting than they actually were. Afterwards, it was clear I should’ve jumped much quicker.

A mate of mine calls this waterfalling – jumping off the waterfall. He says, ‘Just waterfall it Steve’. He refers to this story when he is scared of something as ‘un life threatening’ as a business conversation or cold call. We all are. And just like the waterfall, the more we hesitate the more our self talk creates fear. So the next time your at the edge, just jump. Remember it’s water down there, not concrete.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.


Why failure is scary

While technology and lifestyles has shifted radically in the past few hundred years, the human DNA hasn’t evolved very much at all in the past few thousand. It’s one of the reasons why we are becoming obese. Our bodies are just not designed to have some much access to food, and so much automation and leisure time. Another interesting quirk of our DNA is the fear instinct. An instinct which is totally vital for survival, until a a few hundred years ago. In a pre-civilised world, failure could mean being killed while gathering food.

The problem with the fear instinct is that it gets in the way of us doing our best work in a modern world. It can stop us from proposing amazing ideas, and disrupting old outdated methods. The fear we have is not of death, but these days usually only of embarrassment or financial loss, neither of which will kill us.

This fear robs us of our best chance to make a difference, and generate the momentum we need. The best way to overcome this fear to remind ourselves that the fear we are facing is emotional and not physical. And almost every circumstance, what we are afraid of will not stop us from having a second chance.


Overcoming fear

This is the fourth of my crowd sourced blog entry ideas as suggested by Lani Pauli. Lani wanted to get my thoughts on the following: How to overcome the fear to take the leap and do your own thing.

I’ve written about this a few times. And I’ll start by pointing out previous entries on De-gearing, Quit your job and The number 1 reason being an employee sucks. But to make things contemporaneous here’s my thoughts on the topic today, off the top of my head.

Two important words come to mind when I think about the fear of pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors.

Having & Doing.

And as far as I can tell these two words are what we worry about when it comes to finance. We want to do cool stuff (like build a startup and pursue dreams), but in the short term it can have a big impact on our lifestyle and consumption patterns – the having part.

But most people don’t realize this important fact until after they have made the leap:

“The having is in the doing”

In my view we often replace our dreams and goals with consumption. And society promotes this ideal. We use money and steady income as a means of consumption based happiness. When in reality, we’d be much happier if we just did what we wanted to and had greater fulfillment in the hours of our days.

We have to make a decision on what’s more important to us; having lots of stuff and security, or doing cool things. I believe the latter creates a more enjoyable existence, and often leads to a virtuous circle where you realize how little we really need.

The real bonus is this: it’s easier to be successful when you are really into what you spend your time on. And when success comes to entrepreneurs we get the best of both worlds.

Startup blog says: Dream chase now!