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Lifehack: Confidence and Risk-Taking

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.

-Napoleon Hill

 

Whether you’re building your network or pitching a product or angling for a raise or launching your own business, there is one thing you will inescapably have to face: risk. Whether the risk is social ridicule, failure of a product, the inability to repay a loan or loss of credibility, the prospect of failure can be a terrifying one for many people. That’s understandable. Failure affects not only our own lives, but the people around us. If your belief in yourself is low to begin with, you might not be able to cope with the impact of failure well enough to try again.

Unfortunately, failure is also how we learn. The people who’ve succeeded the most are generally speaking also the people who have failed the most. Except for one thing: they don’t call it failure. It’s simply experimental data that needs to be adjusted for. That’s the difference between a setback and a defeat.

What’s the one key to defeat-proofing yourself? For that, you need an almost ridiculous reservoir of confidence and optimism.


Recognizing the FEAR Dynamic

How many things are you afraid of? How many times have politicians, officials, corporations told you to be afraid of something? How much of the media coverage you see or listen to reinforces those fears? All leadership and all marketing begins with a narrative, a story that impacts people and gets them to mentally organize the world in a way that is helpful to the leadership or product campaign.

Fear is the classic fallback narrative for most defective leaders and marketers throughout history, from dictators to insurance salesmen- and we’re swimming in it. One of the most helpful things you can do for your own personal resilience is to learn to step back and identify the narrative of fear before you internalize it.

There is such a thing as rational prudence – the public awareness campaigns about sanitation at the turn of the twentieth century leap to mind – but too little of modern fear-mongering has such a rational foundation. The campaign to market flu vaccines strives to persuade us that getting inoculated each year against one possible strain of flu that may come around is a better use of our money than doing what it takes to develop strong immune systems in the first place. Pharmaceutical companies advertise through fear – specifically, the fear of symptoms – to encourage us to treat our illnesses like a game of whack-a-mole, hitting each new symptom with another drug as it appears. Cosmetics companies teach us to fear social shame and disguise our physical imperfections with more products.

Terrorism is less deadly in the developed world than car accidents, aviation accidents, smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, ordinary crime or any of the leading diseases, and yet for the past decade it has been the supreme focus of public anxiety. It has been used to tighten surveillance, to increase the paramilitary component of the police, to circumvent ethical and legal prohibitions, to invade countries and to sustain the most costly wars since World War II. Imagine putting that kind of effort into any of the other leading causes of death, here or in the developing world. We didn’t do this…. not because we are in more danger from terrorism than any of these other factors, but because we can be made to feel more vulnerable – not only are the images more striking, but we weren’t yet desensitized to it.

Fear has the property of bypassing reason and provoking action – after all, the fight-or-flight response exists for situations in which there is no time to think. For that reason, it is an effective call to action. But in the long run, it impairs our judgement. It floods our bodies with adrenaline on a regular basis, and our energy focuses on survival rather than personal fulfillment. Everything I’ve written before about “survival mode” applies here. It is to the advantage especially of mediocre leaders and corporations to have a population locked into survival mode, because it means that every issue will be examined through the lens of fear.

Capable leaders, on the other hand, promote narratives of hope, courage and personal and community fulfillment. Listen to any speech by Churchill or Roosevelt in World War II – they’re all about courage and hope. Hope and courage are always more powerful than fear, both on a vibrational level and in terms of what they can achieve when used effectively – the 2008 US presidential election was a vivid illustration. But there’s a catch. Hope makes a claim. It needs to back it up. I am not aware of any pharmaceutical cold medicine ad that has ever promised to cure a cold. Why? Well, they can’t. All they have to trade on is fear of the symptoms. If you provide hope, you have to make something happen. If you trade on fear, you don’t even have to make something not happen – you just have to be able to claim that it happened less than it otherwise would have. And if the fear is of the imponderable or intangible kind, so much the better.

So what can we, as consumers and citizens, do about this? Well, in previous posts, I’ve talked about learning to manage your own thought patterns to improve your emotional and spiritual freedom. It’s exactly the same here. If you can see how they’re trying to sell you, you can go back to the first principles of resilience and ask, “Is this emotion good for me? Is it necessary? Where is it leading? Can it back up its claims? How do these claims stack up in the broader perspective? Are these facts correct? What are some other facts that are being ignored?” Whether or not you ultimately accept the message, the moment you ask those questions, you go from being a participant in a kind of crowd psychology to an independent agent.

The attached video is from a British political comedy called Yes Minister, which I heartily recommend to anyone interested in understanding how government really works (or doesn’t). In this clip, the minister is being sold on something through the logic of fear. Note the pattern – if we try to fix one wrong thing, we’ll open a can of worms, jobs will be lost, the government will fall, and then where will we be?

Fear is an implacable master. If you let it run your life, the life you’ll create will not be to your liking, and that I can guarantee. So resolve now that you’ll take at least the first steps to liberating yourself from this cruel enslavement. No one can do it for you – you and only you need to make a decision.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Want Better Quality of Life? Develop COURAGE

Courage is the very basis of true quality of life.  It is the beginning and the end of every desirable character trait you can have.  Without courage, there is no honor, no personal integrity, no loyalty, no humility and certainly no love.  

And without those, there’s no real success or happiness in life.  Only a courageous person can develop personal Resilience.  

Courage can transform any life and any circumstance from abject misery into wonderful adventure because…


Courage takes charge in every situation.  Courage calmly identifies and assesses options.  Courage expects a miraculous turn of events in its own favor… and is seldom disappointed.  Courage takes a deep breath and stays calm “under fire”.  Courage pulls people together, inspires them, motivates and galvanizes them into action.  Courage instills confidence and creates loyalty and trust.  It is the fundamental quality of a leader.  Courage creates opportunities where none appeared to exist before.  Courage gives rise to an unaccountable joy in the heart.  Courage banishes the demons of self-doubt and low self-esteem.  Courage repeatedly snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.  Where cowardice sees only huge and insurmountable problems, courage sees only fun and interesting projects.  

Acquiring Courage:



Many people erroneously assume that courage is something you either have or you don’t.  When they sense fear in their own hearts, they simply assume nothing can be done about it.  This is false.  If you wish to acquire the great virtue of courage, I’ll tell you now how to get it.  


You could say that “a hero is just a coward who’s afraid to show his fear.”  This paradoxical quip is not quite as absurd as it may seem.  As with all virtues, you have to do two and only two things to acquire this one:


First, you have to decide you want courage.  You have to decide that you’re fed up living with fear, anxiety, self-doubt and all your internal saboteurs.  How often do you experience fear or anxiety over something?  If you keep track of this for even one day, my bet is you’ll be shocked at the degree to which fear dominates your thinking.  So resolve now that you’re going to acquire courage – no one can do it for you.  You have to decide.


Second, you have to take action.  Notice that you don’t have to feel courage first.  If you wait to feel courage before you act, you’ll wait forever.  On the other hand, if you act courageously, if you dismiss all excuses, take responsibility for your own life and do what a courageous person would do, you’ll find yourself filled with a strong feeling of real courage almost instantly.

With this feeling will come a wonderful sense of taking back control of your life and your destiny.  This is a special joy only courageous people experience.  And you know what?  Every courageous person has been just as controlled by fear as you have been.  The only difference is they’ve made a clear decision.  You can too.  


Yes, there will be set-backs.  Expect them.  And pay no attention to them.  Simply continue to act the part and I guarantee you will experience amazing results.   


Here’s a video meditation on courage you may find helpful:







Courage can totally remake your life, and all it takes on your part or mine is the decision to want it and to act courageously until we in fact become courageous people.


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger




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