I have seen people make extraordinarily bad choices, and forget their own values, due to their own fear. And a real strength comes from resisting fear in two ways. The fact that fear is such a powerful motivator seduces us in two ways:
We are invited to succumb to our fears
We are tempted to use fear to control others
And the very best people I've met are those who resist both of those seductions.
The best and the worst
As a 30 year old sales guy we had a large-ish ($600,000pa) customer who had the shits with us, and was telling us that they'd pull the business. As I tried to infect my boss with my panic I was calmly met with "well if they start the process we'll take appropriate action". And the storm blew over as we worked our way through it.
By contrast, many of the worst I often see are stricken with fear about the worst of a dozen scenarios, of which "dozens minus one" will not occur. These people manage to successfully infect their staff with panic and the whole place breathes blame, defensiveness and distrust.
And again, the businessmen whose job it is to fly planes for people to jump out of. They hang out with their people, enjoy life when the fun's there and deal with any problems as (and before) they arrive.
Global management by fear
Fear has been the weapon of choice of "opinion makers" for all of my memories. My first memory was as a 12 year old, some troops buildup on the Russia/China border had me sleepless, because I'd read the paper. Nuclear war, red peril, yellow peril, immigrants, global warming, home invasions, drop bears. Many things are real, but what's more real is the fact:
Many good people do bad things and many clever people do stupid things because of fear
Where are the strong ones? If it's to be, it's up to me
Where are our leaders telling us that "there is nothing to fear but fear itself"? The optimistic urging of FDR as the US sat mired in the great depression. We seem to now be controlled by a thousand "men behind the curtain" a thousand weak, fraudulent Wizards of Oz.
I pray I can resist fear. To not give in to it, and that I can refuse to try to use it to control others. Because I know I'm not there yet.
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