On a brilliant summer afternoon in 1987, I found myself plummeting backwards off a cliff with a 50-pound rock in my lap and a dynamic line racing through scant protection. Seconds later I was upside down, pretzeled, rope burned, and pouring blood from a series of gashes that later took 56 stitches to secure.
Fear is natural. It’s a reaction to risk, real or perceived. It can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be exhilarating, but probably shouldn’t be. We all experience it. It’s how we deal with it that makes the difference.
Practice, experience, and study go a long way towards banishing fear; but you can’t, I would argue shouldn’t, rid yourself of it altogether.
We posed the question on Facebook last week: “How do you manage fear?”
The answers were honest and open. Some quoted Churchill. Others talked about fear in the abstract: “…an emotion which can have positive or adverse effects.”
I was caught by the number of times I saw the word “study” show up. Repetition and muscle memory, too. Preparation. Training. Routine. Ritual. I’m always impressed with our readers. They’re a smart and thoughtful bunch.
The theme for Pursuit this month is security, risk, threat—each of which has an element of fear built in. Ruben Roel, our webmaster and coding genius, is working on an article for later this month about managing fear, projecting confidence, and creating a winning team. Writer Claire Gibson shares a story about working dogs trained for security professionals—a fearsome prospect if you’re at the wrong end of the bite. And from our experts, we have savvy advice on how to minimize risks to your business—by using surety bonds, contracts, and retainer agreements.
The takeaway? Take risks, but have a backup plan.
Personally, I find that fear is best managed through study, training, and experience. With knowledge and awareness, risks and threats can be identified and addressed. Security is the science of using the tools at hand to reasonably deal with possibilities.
I’ve always had a fear of heights. And yet, there I was three-fourths of the way up a slab of dacite porphyry in the rugged hills of northern New Mexico, facing my fears. Three days in the infirmary, four packs of cigarettes, and a scolding later, and I was limping the rope-burned soft back of my knee right back to the starting point…this time, with a helmet.