That is a quote from Seth Godin’s most recent podcast, and it is definitely worth a listen if
you have not already. (Click here to go to Akimbo)
Seth highlights how we teach people to juggle and ride a bike. His main point is that fear and shame are often the traditional go-to in our learning experience. What are you teaching when you put a child on a bicycle? Balance; but we often focus on pedalling. What are we teaching when you first try juggling? Throwing to the right target; but most people dive all over the place to catch the ball. Why? Fear of dropping the ball.
That second example stood out to me because one of my son’s juggles. I mentioned this to him and he smiled in agreement. In order to learn to juggle, you have to get over the innate fear of dropping the ball; instead you just keep throwing until you get it right.
A motivating factor that drives us all at some level is one of our most primal: Fear. Using the analogy from the podcast, we can include shame in this as well. We carry both of these from before we are born, because they guide out of danger and into social acceptance. They are learned as much as they are innate, as we ebb and flow through life and relationships. We all have a basic response to fear and shame, but we develop in how we respond to the external influence on our internal reaction.
Response or Reaction?
Many people struggle with reaction. Allowing the first shock or emotional burst to find it’s way through our filters and ingrown cultural socializations. Reacting is allowing an internal conversation to spill out without our own understanding or direction, so it goes everywhere. Acting is built on formalized though and self-awareness, constructed through our own sense of agency and will.
A response then is the opposite. When we take the time to think before moving, allowing that first instinct of reaction to work through our own filters. If we have been wronged, are confronted with a danger to self, an affront to our sense of dignity, or maybe relearning an appropriate understanding of shame. All of those things cause our natural fear responses to kick into high gear, and we immediately feel the need to Fight, Flee, or Freeze.
So how does fear motivate you?
Do you jump in without thinking? And then realize the consequences once you are there?
Do you dream big, but then lock up with all the potential consequences?
Do you stay away from any possibilities because they are all things you do not know as familiar?
I recall a seminar I was part of on the subject of the origins of our personal fear. Do we have the fear before the trigger? Or do we learn fear from the trigger? Or do we require the experience with the trigger to formulate a thought process for next time? We all resolved it was a little of both. I have never walked up to a bear, and I know what I am supposed to do if one charged at me. But I am pretty sure I would never do the former, and would forget everything when encountering the latter. I also prefer to see snakes through a thick pane of glass, not in person.
Fear is a powerful force in our decision making and response to how we approach situations throughout life. Do you respond or react?