When Emotions Subvert our Creative Potential (with thanks to Seth Godin) . . .

While I deepen my knowledge and use of search engine optimization strategies, I daily continue to receive and read Seth Godin’s influential blog posts. I’ve previously admired and discussed his work on psychological factors of marketing (including resistance in Linchpin: Are you Indispensable). So for today’s blog I’m revisiting his posting from March 13, 2013, which gives more food for thought in this area . . .

“Avoiding fear by indulging in our fear of fear

Every day, we make a thousand little compromises, avoid opportunities, actions and people – all so that we can stay away from the emotion of fear.

Note that I didn’t say, “so we can stay away from what we fear.” No, that’s something else entirely. Right now, most of us are avoiding the things that might merely trigger the emotion itself. That’s how distasteful it is to us.

The alternative? To dance with it. To seek out the interactions that will trigger the resistance and might make us uncomfortable.

Are we trying to avoid the unsafe? Or merely the feeling of being unsafe? Increasingly, these are completely different things.

Due to ‘enhanced security,’ a recent bike event in New York City forbade the 30,000 riders from carrying hydration packs. No practical reason, just the desire to avoid fear.

The upcoming exam doesn’t get studied for, not because studying is risky, but because studying reminds us that there’s a test coming up.

We loudly keep track of all the failures of commission around us, but never mention the countless failures of omission, all the mistakes that were made by not being bold. To track those, to remind ourselves of the projects not launched or the investments not made, is to encounter our fear of forward motion. (So much easier to count typos than it is to mention the paragraphs never written.)

There’s no other reason for not having a will, a health proxy, an insurance policy, or an up to date checkup. Apparently, while it’s not risky to plan for our demise, it generates fear, which we associate with risk, and so we avoid it.

It’s simple: the fear that used to protect us is now our worst enemy.

Easier to avoid the fear than it is to benefit from living with it. I’ve heard the quote a thousand times but never really thought it through . . .

Hence the opportunity. If you do things that are safe but feel risky, you gain a significant advantage in the marketplace.

Godin’s argument about fear equally applies to other such emotions or scenarios, such as conflict and anxiety, both of which can feel risky to some people.

Considering his point that such vexed or painful psychological spaces present us with opportunities for business, can you think of ways in which you are either embracing or avoiding certain emotions or feelings?

What are you missing out on, as a result?

Could you add to your services (be they strategizing, advising or otherwise) to address this issue that can (and does) subvert our creative potential?

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