Fear of LOSS, fear of DISAPPOINTMENT, fear of REGRET and fear of LONELINESS are often quoted as some of the most feared sadness emotions.
Loss and disappointment
Fear of loss and disappointment are often behind why we avoid doing things, such pursuing goals and dreams, I’m talking about the fear of loss in terms of losing money, property or time rather than losing people and relationships. We often experience this kind of fear so strongly, that it paralysis us into inaction.
This is a fairly understandable reaction with fear of loss, after all, you don’t want to be plowing your hard earned money into an investment which has the potential of wiping you out if you get it wrong.
However the fear of disappointment can be easily re-framed by shifting your perspective and looking more critically at your perceptions and the underlying and often shaky beliefs that they are built on.
When it comes to fear of loss in respect of people and relationships, fear of loss often manifests itself in being over-protective towards loved ones, or jealous of their attention with others. Some people avoid falling in love, for fear of having to deal with the possibility of that relationship coming to an end in the future, either because of it breaking down or because of the death of one of the parties. The quote “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never of loved at all”, comes to mind here, but we all know from experience, that it doesn’t feel so clear cut when we’re going through the grieving process.
Regret comes from making choices, that in retrospect you might wish you hadn’t taken on, including the choice of doing nothing. It’s about looking back on your life or a section of your life and wishing you’d have made better decisions when they presented themselves. The fear of regret is about mitigating the risk of being in such a dreaded future situation.
There are many other situations that cause sadness, some being;
Drug addiction and substance abuse
Unemployment and financial hardship
Terminal illness and chronic pain
and while I’ve not gone further into detail with these (because I wanted to keep this article to a reasonable length), they are no less valid than the ones I have detailed previously.
Fear of the future
Fear of the future occurrence of any sadness emotions, while understandable in some respects, is an irrational fear. We can’t know for sure how one decision and one choice will unfold and impact us, in the future. I like the Zen parable; Is that so, for a good illustration of this point.
Sure we can mitigate the risks, by improving our knowledge, doing our homework and due diligence and making the best educated decision, at the time.
But we must be aware that there may be many variables in play that we may not be in control of, or even aware of; the unknown, unknowns, the known unknowns etc.
That’s why it’s always good to have a plan B, a backup plan that helps hedge your position, if things go pear-shaped.
Fear comes from worrying about something imagined in the futures, and often fear and worry are over played in our thoughts. The reality is often not nearly as bad as we’d anticipated.
Obviously terminal illness, chronic pain and future traumatic experiences can be mitigated, by trying to refrain from behaviours that could make them more likely to occur, such as avoiding smoking, substance abuse or putting yourself in risky situations, but simply worrying too much about their potential occurrence, can be draining and stressful, and probably best avoided.
Dealing with Sadness
So what do we do when we’re stuck in the emotion of sadness? When it’s here and real.
Dealing with emotion, is about facing it, rather than running away from it. I’ve known people that have used alcohol, and substances to escape dealing with emotion, It doesn’t appear to work for them, in fact, it often compounds problems and adds to an already difficult situation.
Feeling trapped and unable to cope, thinking there is no hope or no way out can result in a downward spiral of emotions, if allowed to do so.
Pain is an inevitable part of life, everyone deals with sadness and pain more generally, to some extent, and finding a way to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing or increasing coping resources is where the answer ultimately lays.
Support networks are vital, if you don’t have the luxury of having good people around you, in your family and friends circle, there are many great specialised organisations, that want to help. Never feel you have to deal with any emotion or situation alone.
It is possible to find pleasure and purpose in life again, it really is. Just find the resources within you, to find those resources that are out there to help you navigate your way through.
S.W.O.T. analysis is a great tool for analysing different aspects of your business, particularly the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.
When considering the THREATS in particular, you shouldn’t fear the things you put under this category, in fact these can often be the opportunities you are looking for to disrupt your business and even your industry and take a great leap forward.
Say to yourself “What would a competitor have to do for me to think, oh shit I’m screwed now!” and instead of waiting for this to happen to you, take the first mover advantage and get on with it yourself.
Every THREAT is, with the right mindset, an OPPORTUNITY in waiting.
Hugh Rank may be better known for his model of persuasion, but he did also come up with the Pep talk, a framework for analysing political language.
It’s particularly important to be aware of the tricks politicians might employ to take control of the population through a form of mind control, manipulating the masses to their will.
Rank believed arming people with this framework might help protect against such trickery.
When you’re next watching the news, or some political broadcast, look out for this framework at work. Question politicians and media motives, pay particular attention to the language being used. For example if you’ve listened to some of the Brexit debate lately, you may have heard terms such as
“we risk falling off a cliff edge”,
“into the abyss”,
“storm clouds are gathering”,
“we’ll be left in the wilderness”,
Now, consider the intent behind such emotive language. What are politicians (and the media) trying to get you to do, what is their intent?
Whether you believe it’s likely to be true or not, what such language is attempting to do is influence your views, mess with your emotions and stir a reaction from you. It’s trying to stoke up fear, largely based on nothing but opinion and assumptions rather than fact and evidence. This isn’t the Pep talk framework in full effect, but some elements are at play here.
However you have seen the Pep talk at work, in all it’s glory, during the war on terror, particularly after 911.
The “pep talk” calls for committed collective action. Emotional intensity and group bonding are the two prominent features of a “pep talk” which is made up of the following components..
(1)the Threat; (2) the Bonding; (3) the Cause; (4) the Response.
1. The Threat
Rank believes persuaders are often problem makers using the following tools:
words – warning, name calling, horror stories
images – atrocity pictures to intensify threat to the group by evil other
Persuaders use predictable fears – “We fear that someone stronger (DOMINANCE) will take away our life (DEATH), our possessions (DESTRUCTION), our territory (INVASION), our freedom (RESTRICTION); or that someone else has more (INJUSTICE); or that a human system will break down (CHAOS).
There are six category of fears;
Death and destruction
The threat may be direct and tangible (such as traffic gridlocks, widespread power outages, computer network failures, mob riots, food shortages, contamination) or the threat may be indirect and intangible (such as inflation, bank failures, devaluation of currency). But, in both cases, the harmful effects are, nevertheless, real and felt.
In political campaigns, the incumbents usually stress how well the systems work; the opposition party charges that the system should work better, and that there should be change, reform.
2. The Bonding
Hugh Rank believes there are three basic themes in bonding actions, which are the same, no matter what threats or causes are involved, these are:
Unity – “united we stand”
Loyalty – “be true to your…”
Pride – “we’re number one…”
Such bonding activities relate to past and present and involves organised group activities such as teams, parades, picketing, chanting, singing and/or wearing uniforms, these are used for gathering and keeping the group together ready for action.
Once the group is bonded a structure and organisation comes into being. Individuals often gain self-esteem from joining such groups, have roles to play and jobs to protect.
So bonded groups need a sense of movement and progress, often obtained by introducing new threats and new causes.
3. The Cause
Rank says a cause involves a sense of duty to defend someone from a threat and gain a benefit.
People working on a cause often increase their own self image and have a sense of moral superiority and self righteousness. They basically come from the view that “we are informed and good: they are ignorant and evil”
Causes often conflict, sometimes directly, more often indirectly. Opponents often disagree on what the main issue is. Dominance, or power, is sometimes the “hidden agenda.” Related causes often cluster, so group-bonding attempts often overlap.
Cause rhetoric can sometimes be controlled, like a thermostat, by organized groups, but sometimes gets out of control, like a wildfire, because individuals may internalise a strange mix of messages and respond in violent ways.
to Defend … Protect … Guard … Save … Help … Shield … Safeguard … Aid … Serve
the … Nation … Country … Homeland … People … Workers … Common Man … Poor … Oppressed … Children… Unborn … Future… Animals …. Environment
… from a threat and gain a benefit:
If the Threat is:DOMINATION
the benefit is: Victory … Triumph … Success … Conquest … Control … Sovereignty … Mastery … Superiority … Dominion … Supremacy
If the Threat is:DEATH & DESTRUCTION
the benefit is: Peace … Security … Safety … Stability … Tranquility … Calm
If the Threat is:INVASION
the benefit is: Territory … Country … Homeland … Fatherland … Birthright … Community … Inheritance … Neighborhood
If the Threat is:RESTRICTION
the benefit is: Freedom … Liberty … Independence … Choice … Liberation … Emancipation … Autonomy … Self-determination
If the Threat is:INJUSTICE
the benefit is: Justice … Equality …Right … Fairness … Balance … Retribution … Revenge … Vengeance
If the Threat is:CHAOS
the benefit is: Order … Prosperity … Progress … Abundance … Plenty … Growth … Efficiency … Honesty … Ability … Integrity
Rank says that duty, defense, and altruism are the key concepts. The basic concept of a “cause” can be expressed in the following formula:
A “cause” involves a sense of duty to defend someone from a threat and gain a benefit.
4. The Response
Effective cause group rhetoric usually identifies specific actions to be taken by the receptive audience. Often, an urgency plea is used, together with some common triggering words.
Start – lets go, move, start or passively – rest, stasis, indecision or inaction
Fight – struggle
Endure – keep on, hold on, standfast, stick to it
Change – redirect, transform, channel, convert.
If the Threat is:
Key “Cause” words:
Fight (or) Stop
DEATH OR DESTRUCTION
Win (or) Stop
Keep out (or) Get out
Free (or) Ban
More (or) Less
Keep (or) Change
Save (or) Keep
This is the outline of Ranks Pep Talk, it’s difficult to find much about it on the internet, his book by the same name is available on Amazon, and although, I haven’t read it, other than on his website, many years ago, it’s an intriguing subject, and as relevant today as it’s ever been.
I was recently contemplating, what are the most important aspects of running a business. Here in order of importance, is what I have come up with..
1. Add value
Provide something of value that people are willing to pay you for, after all, if you’ve nothing that people want, regardless of how much you might like your offering, it’s a non-starter. Find a solution to a problem, something that scratches an inch, so to speak. Find a need, find a want, and work out a solution to solve it.
Become a good deal maker. Middle men leverage their resources to help both creators and customers. They bridge the gap in such a way as to provide value to other parties.
Win-win situations are the best for sustainability, for customers, suppliers and partners. If you’re not providing some benefit to any of these parties, you’ve got a limited shelf life.
Find gaps in markets. Where are existing solutions falling short?
Use and combine existing solutions to create even more value. My photography business brings together makeup artist and photographer to provide makeover photoshoots. It adds value to the existing propositions of both services.
An effective business person, successfully executes the promised value proposition from sourcing through to production/service to final output.
2. Have the right mindset
Find and maintain motivation so that you take action and follow through.
Believe in what you’re doing or trying to achieve. But always keep number one in this list in mind.
Become self aware. Understand why you do what you do and don’t do what you don’t do.
Initiate momentum. Progress from a standing start into something meaningful. Once you make a start inertia will build and make things easier.
Take responsibility for actions and outcomes. No blaming others and complaining that this or that isn’t working out for you. Develop a can-do attitude.
Be resourcefulness, make use of yours and other people’s resources and make it happen!
Learn to be able to shift perspective. Re-framing how you think about something can often change your performance, because thoughts lead actions. Most of our beliefs are built on shaky ground, built from assumptions and inferences, rather than facts and evidence. I love to use quote graphics as a way of looking at something from fresh perspective.
Be committed to what you’re doing. Burning bridges, means you’re forced to give full commitment to a particular course of action. I’m not particularly advocating this extreme approach, but if you’re forced down one path, you’re likely to find a way, even if the road ahead is a bumpy one.
Develop a strong work ethic. You’ve got to be prepared to put the work in if you’re going to succeed. Sure you can look to make things easier, by working smarter, but the more you’re prepared to put into something, the more you’re likely to get from it.
Embrace change and uncertainty. Change and uncertainty presents uncomfortable risk for many, particularly if they live from hand to mouth or with little margin for error, in terms of indebtedness. From an evolutionary standpoint we’re hard wired to resist situations that present uncertainty, because our ancestors may have mistakenly wandered into the path of a dangerous predator in years gone by, possibly resulting in loss of life. These days, we don’t live with such life threatening consequences if we get things wrong, but we still fear any threat to the status quo, in much the same way.
Always try to overcome fear and inner conflict, because these feelings will inevitably hold us back from making progress. Often the fear is greater than the reality.
Pay attention to your coping strategies. Coping strategies are designed to prevent cognitive dissonance, but often we use them as excuses not to follow through. I call them coping excuses, because we justify to ourselves why we do or don’t do something, even if it’s not really the right thing.
Replace bad habits with good ones. Bad habits are hard to break, and often it’s easier to replace them with good habits.
Stay focused. It’s so easy to get distracted by the new shiny thing, but staying focused and maintaining progress is so important. Know where you’re going and measure progress against this. Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.
Be organised and work against a plan of action. Having a system to work within makes daily activities routine and habitual, and as a result much more likely to be done efficiently. The more you do things the better you get at them. This advice comes with a caveat though, don’t stifle creativity. Routine and organisation, is a left brain activity, creativity is a right brain activity, and it’s hard to keep switching between the two.
Improve problem solving and decision making. All life is about solving problems and making decisions and the better you can get at these, the more successful you will be.
Utilise IQ, EQ, talent and skill. Play to your strengths, improve and work at making them better, and use them to your advantage. You are uniquely you, so make the most of what you’ve got. We all have something.
Find the best way things can be done, not just the best way you can do them. Be a master of what you know, and an apprentice of what you don’t know. The moment you think you know it all, is the moment you stop listening and learning. Take the scientific approach and look to disprove your hypothesis, rather than falling into the trap of confirmation bias, where you look to confirm what you believe, while ignoring or rejecting anything that runs counter to them.
Find reliable sources of accurate information. Don’t be embarrassed to admit you are still learning. Life has something to teach us every day, even if it’s how not to do something. Always be learning.
Employ experts to help you. Don’t expect to do everything yourself, use the expertise and passions of other people to help your business. Get skilled employees, partners and suppliers to grow your business. Get others to do the things you don’t like to do, this underlines the point I previously highlighted about the importance of improving self awareness.
3. Master the art and science of Marketing and sales
Always be marketing and building your brand.
Think long term over short term.
Build your reputation, and influence what people say about you when you’re not there.
4. Understand your Financials
Financial literacy is essential to business success.
Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.
Understand the importance of cash flow and the difference between it and profit and why you can go out of business even if you’re making a profit.
Study your profit and loss figures.
Use financial info for decision making.
Remember there are only 2 ways to make more profit, either by selling more goods and services (volume) or by making more profit per £ of sales.
There are only 3 ways to get more sales; by getting more customers, increasing transaction volume or by increase transaction frequency.
Keep costs down. They only rise if more is being spent per £ of sales or sales are increasing therefore increasing costs (volume).
Know lifetime value of customers and use this knowledge to work out your marketing budget.
5. Have direction
Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.
Have a clear vision and goal to give you a strong sense of direction, otherwise you’ll by like a rudderless boat, being dragged around by the tides of circumstance.
Develop a definite plan of action and strategy, but build in room for flexibility, because sometimes things come along we could never have anticipated, and we shouldn’t reject them because they don’t fall perfectly in line with what we were intending to do. Just be wary we’re not being pulled unnecessarily and unproductively off course with no benefit.
Work on the business not in it. Don’t lose yourself in the day to day stuff, you’ve got to keep one eye on the big picture at all times.
Be ahead of the demand curve not behind it. Otherwise you’ll have to work harder to maintain income, because of the downward pressure on prices later in products life cycle.
6. Future-proof yourself
Disrupt your own business model before others do. Technological advancement is so rapid these days, you’ve got to keep an eye out for major shifts in your industry. The music and film industries have endured major industry shifts over recent years, and they won’t be the last to do so.
Innovate. Always be look to be better, faster, be more convenient, provide better quality, and add more functionality to the value you provide.
Demand continuous improvement, from yourself and your team.
Consider multiple income streams to hedge and spread risk. Having your eggs in one basket is a dangerous game to play in such a fast moving and changing environment.
If you’re not progressing you’re falling behind, so drop the idea of maintaining the non-existent status quo.
Always be doing SWOT analysis. SWOT which stands for strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats is a great tool for analysing your business. If you pay particular attention to the threats your business faces, you have a chance to turn these into opportunities, and disrupt your competitors.
Use cost benefit analysis to weigh options.
Use Decision matrix when considering options, so that you fully analyse all the variables and attributes in play.
7. Be a good Leader
Lead your team.
Use a carrot over stick approach.
Sell your vision to your employees. Get them enthused by your passion.
Encourage contributions from employees. Two minds or more are often better than one. They give you an opportunity to see things from a different perspective, from someone with different life and work experiences than yourself, and this can only be a good thing to tap into.
So there you have it, hope you get some value from this post, please share with anyone you think will benefit from reading it.
Another healthy and tasty meal. Who says eating healthy has to be boring? Keep clear of processed foods, aim for fresh natural foods when possible. It’s okay to treat yourself as long as you’re not overdoing them.
Grilled pork BBQ with coleslaw and avocado salsa on a bed of lettuce and sriracha or ranch sauce.
While watching the Great North Run on television today, I came across the following story, called THE STARFISH. It’s such a powerful story, in terms of motivating action, so thought I’d share it with you. Here it is, hope you get some inspiration from it. Please share it and spread the love.
The more you learn, the more you know, the more you realise how little you actually know.
One person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure.
Letting go of expectations might well reduce suffering, while at the same time lessening the drive to take action and chase down goals.
The more we have, the more we have to lose.
The more you give, the more you get. “Givers gain” is a popular quote.
The more in need you are, the greater the tendency to “grab” at opportunities, but the less others are willing to give you as a result of this.
Is it best to aim for specialised learning, to go deep and narrow, or generalise by learning wide and shallow, to keep options open, and allowing for easier pivoting in the future, if needed?
There are contradictions everywhere.
Maybe nothing has any meaning other than the one we give it. Maybe life is about experiencing the rich tapestry of existence, and learning to break free of social conditioning and find our own meaning of experience. Maybe we should aim to break free of judging and labeling, or at least improve awareness of the process.
When we read a book with the intention to learn, we are encouraging our mind to shift perspective, to see things from a different position. We are seeking permission to think and feel differently than before, by reading the wise words of someone who may know better than us.
So should we live a life where we chase down dreams and pursue goals, in which we are driven to succeed?
Do we live life in gratitude and contentment, happy to live spiritually in the moment, free of attachments to thoughts, possessions and people, like a monk would do?
I guess, the beauty of life is, we get to decide as individuals.
Sure we might come across difficulties, obstacles and even pressure from people around us, who want us to serve their agendas, but in the end, we have the choice to either put up and shut up or take action to do something for ourselves.
Aligning the inner world of what makes us tick, with the outer world of what we spend time doing is key to living a fulfilling life, so we should perhaps try to live a life that best achieves that aim.
I was chatting to a friend of mine some time ago, when we got onto the subject of DRIVE. Drive to take action, to follow a certain path. I guess you could refer to drive as motivation.
Anyway we got to chatting about drive coming from the need to escape something, in the sense of keeping busy to keep the mind occupied, so as not to dwell on unpleasant memories.
I remember watching a Tony Robbins video where he was having a conversation about his fear of not taking action being so great, that it overcame any fear he had about taking action. The fear of taking action is often what prevent people pursuing their dreams and chasing their goals down. They fear failure, so don’t even try.
Having thought about this some more, I came to the realisation that we can be driven towards something, like a dream or a goal, or we can be driven to escape or avoid something from our past or in our present situation. There is a third option which is to not do anything because we are indifferent about or content with the status quo or we fear change, but we’ll just keep this post about the first two with regards to drive.
I questioned myself as to what the pros and cons of each of these drives were, and decided that if it helped someone achieve a desired course of action, then either is valid. However there are wider implications with regards to dealing with the issues that a person is running away from, because if they aren’t dealt with sooner or later, they are likely to be running forever. Running might originate from the fight or flight response, but prolonged flight is not particularly healthy in the long term.
It’s much healthier to be driven towards something or be driven by doing something. If you’ve a passion for doing something, than that seems like the ideal situation to aim for.
After all life is lived in the present moment, so it makes sense to enjoy the present moment by doing something you love. Anything else is a mind created construct, both past a future. The past has been spent, the future is not promised.