The Voice Of Fear


I won!

No, I think we both lost.

If you were to ask most people, they would say competition is a natural instinct. But they would be wrong. Our natural instinct is cooperation, not competition. Sprinkle in a little fear, however, and cooperation quickly turns into competition.


Generally, movie-goers are very polite. They find their seat and quickly sit down. When the movie is over, the lights come on and everyone makes their way out of the theater in an orderly fashion. There are usually no arguments over the best seats or exiting order -- there is simply cooperative order. Yell "fire" in that same crowded movie theater and it's an entirely different situation. Once fear kicks in, order is lost.


I experienced this once while in college in Oregon. I was seated in the middle of the theater, which was about three quarters full. As the lights dimmed, someone yelled the magic word. Everyone around me was panicking but I stayed in my seat, looking around for a safe escape route. Rather than join the panicked masses in the aisles, I decided to go down the middle of the theater over the seats. As I jumped over the rows, I was contemplating next steps -- just then, several theater employees announced it was a false alarm, a prank.


The panicked crowd started to calm. I sat down in the nearest seat and drew a breath, mulling over what I had just witnessed. Its common knowledge that you are supposed to keep your cool during traumatic situations and, if everyone had allowed their hearts to control their reaction rather than fear, the crowd would have exited in an orderly fashion. But fear took over and this calm, cooperative crowd almost instantaneously became aggressive and competitive.


It is fear that turns recreation into competition. When we approach an activity for recreational purposes, we have to approach it without fear. This doesn't mean that certain activities, such as jumping out of a plane for fun, won't be a little scary, but the joy has to significantly outweigh the fear. If some form of competition is chosen for recreation, it has to be from a cooperative perspective. This may sound strange when talking about competition, but it is the way of the heart. It is the way to achieve the highest level of competition, regardless of whether it's for recreation or profession.


I have contrasted competition as cooperative (from the heart) or competitive (from fear).


1. Do you look for internal satisfaction (heart) or is it a struggle for external recognition (fear)?


2. Do you measure self-worth based on what you give, such as ethics, effort, honor, etc., (heart) or do you measure self-worth solely based on outcome (fear)?


3. Do you see life as a journey in search of improvement (heart) or do you focus on attaining perfection (fear)?


4. Do you try to achieve oneness with activity (heart) or do you treat goals or sports as something to conquer (fear)?


5. Do you have realistic expectations where you can acknowledge the progress you make (heart) or do you have unrealistic expectations that often lead to frustration, anger and disappointment (fear)?


6. Do you focus on what was learned and effort given (heart) or do you blame others, cheat and make excuses to calm anxiety from fear of failure (fear)?


7. Do you see competitors as partners who facilitate your improvement (heart) or do you see competitors as the enemy (fear)?


 The irony is these same qualities can be applied to the workplace and the careers that are causing fear in the first place.

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