The first step toward fear

What usually happens when you encounter something new, unfamiliar and wild that can destroy your business and even ruin your whole life? Many entrepreneurs freeze for a while, falling into anabiosis.

It’s not their fault. That’s how the brain works. It’s hard to argue with amygdala. While life is flowing according to plan, the oldest part of our brain sits quietly. But as soon as something goes wrong, the amygdala takes over the steering wheel. Millions of years of evolution have taught it that any novelty is potentially disastrous. So as long as uncertainty persists, the amygdala interrupts habitual activities in animals and humans — work, play, food, sleep, and sex. Emotions such as confusion, anxiety, worry, and fear forcibly focus our attention on the now most pressing problem.

In such moments, we desperately want the fire to extinguish itself and the danger to pass by. We ignore abnormal facts for so long that it is often too late. We convince ourselves: “I imagined everything. It’s okay. Everything will be all right.” No, unfortunately, it won’t. Intuition is sometimes wrong about the extent of the problem, but it is almost always right that there is something meaningful there.

Fortunately, we have a reliable helper. Evolution has not only created a brake within us, but also a gas. It is curiosity, which in response to novelty necessarily arises, but a little later than fear. In psychology it is called the Orientational Response. Curiosity helps us explore the source of uncertainty and separate the dangerous from the scary.

Knowing all this, we can speed up the process of our adaptation to novelty. It is necessary, first, to wait for the inevitable wave of fear to strike. It must be patiently waited out. And secondly, quickly try to show interest in the new phenomenon. At the same time, it is important to choose a load that is within your capabilities (if there is such a possibility). There is no need to decide or undertake something right away — increasing vigilance and focus of attention is enough to start with. Symbolically, you have already turned to face your fear. On the surface it’s tiny, but in essence it’s a monumental step. Instead of a terror-stricken victim, a hunter emerges, scrutinizing the predator to choose the right moment for a successful counter-attack.

Sincerely yours,

-Alexander

Kyiv, 18.04.2022

You can help Ukraine defend itself and the World from Russia here.

As a business therapist, I help tech founders with rapid business transformation. My specialty is accelerating decision-making at the intersection of business and personality.

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Alexander Lyadov

Alexander Lyadov

As a business therapist, I help entrepreneurs to navigate faster in non-standard situations.