Why Fear is Deadlier than the Down Economy

Article by:
Bob Shenefelt EO Detroit
Bob Shenefelt
EO Detroit

Revenues are down, credit lines are tightening and banks are calling in loans. The stakes are high and the time available to act seems precious little. With more bad news arriving every day, business owners are feeling hopelessly mired in problems that all need to be addressed right now!

Naturally, this kind of situation makes people panic. We think, “I’m sinking, I’m sinking!” Thus, we sink. But is the economy the quagmire that’s pulling us down, or is it simply the fear we have about it?

An interesting bit of wisdom on this subject was dispensed by Keanu Reeves’ character in the movie “The Replacements.” Before a game, a football coach asks his team to define the term “fear.” Various players take turns admitting to their fears of spiders and bees. When it’s Reeves turns, he explains that his fear is “quicksand”.

Keanu describes what can happen to a successful team when things suddenly start going wrong and troubles begin piling up. That’s when players start looking over their shoulders for the next thing to go wrong. And when you’re looking over your shoulder in terror, you can’t possibly keep your eye on the goal. Paralyzed by fear and uncertainty, you sink.

If you’re not inclined to take advice from Keanu Reeves, how about US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt? It was in the midst of an economic climate—very similar to the global one we’re currently facing—when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself— nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Consider your own company’s reaction to present circumstances. Are things coming at you rapidly? Does each day seem to bring more apparent difficulty or strife? Is the weight of these mounting issues dragging you deeper and deeper into the quicksand?

When it comes to my business, if I answer “yes” to any of these questions, I make it a point to stop and look at the things that matter most to my business and my people. If I stayed focused and take the appropriate steps to work through the crisis, rather than work and lead in fear, than I know that I, or my business, won’t succumb to the quicksand.

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