While thinking about fear recently, l realized that I am susceptible to fear (because I’m human), but I am not prone to it. I don’t test this by subjecting myself to scary entertainments because I do have a very vivid imagination, but that’s an entirely different post for another time. In small doses and in certain circumstances fear can be a great motivator. Taken too far or applied in the wrong circumstance fear can become paralyzing. Fear can help us to make good decisions for instance by adding a note of caution.
In the workplace, fear can prevent us from taking the plunge into a better circumstance (i.e. job) either within the organization or somewhere else. We can trap ourselves in the ‘what if’ maze that is rarely productive and not the same thing as the caution that I mentioned above.
I’m currently taking a very interesting class on Project Management concepts and one of the things that a PM must do when setting up a new project is review potential risks. The list of possible issues, challenges, disasters, and other things that might prevent a project from completion could go on and on especially for someone stuck in the what if fear loop. Most PM’s have a fairly high level of logic and are process oriented, and the job requires keeping this mindset in check for the PM as well as the stakeholder for the project.
The logical application that can counteract fear is that each risk noted in the project requires corresponding mitigation steps. So if you put say, that Hurricane Sandy could happen during the timeline of the project, you have to put down how you will keep the project going in the aftermath. That’s an awful lot of extra work for something that has a very low probability of occurring especially here in the Midwest.
Fear is illogical, after that prick of caution, determining the logic of the actual risk behind your fear is a reasonable response. ‘If I put my hat in the ring for that new team, what is the worst that will happen? What is the best? What is the likelihood that the worst will happen if I talk to the person leading the team and find out more about what they are looking for and intend to accomplish before saying that I’m interested?’
My answer to the question that I pose in the title is that the price of fearfulness beyond caution can be terribly, sadly high. What’s yours?
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