Ferriss shares that our fears often begin with the question: “What if . . .?” And, when the answer is unknown, our fear grows exponentially. Our mind plays tricks on us, and we can work ourselves into a state of severe panic with just those two words. Only by exploring the worst case scenarios, can we get to a place where we not only address our fears, but we use them as a lever to be courageous.
The Three steps of Fear Setting
Start with that question: “What if. . .?” These questions may come with a full range of potential consequences, but when you are asking them, they all feel scary. Here are a few examples:
- What if we reopen school? What if we don't?
- What if I have authentic conversations about race and white supremacy in my class?
- What if we decide to get rid of a popular tradition at our school because we know it excludes some students and families?
- What if we talk about the election openly at our school?
- What if we get rid of APs this year?
- What if our enrollment is cut in half this year?
- What if I speak openly about what I really think at a faculty meeting?
Once you have your question, go through the following three steps:
Explore your fears - Define the worst case scenario, determine what outcomes might be preventable, and then if the worst outcomes come to pass, determine how you might repair the damage.
Explore the benefits of an attempt or partial success.
Explore the cost of inaction (emotionally, physically or financially) - and to look at each of the consequences in the short term (the next six months), in the mid-term (the next one-three years) and in the long term (the next three to five years).
These three steps aren’t easy to tackle - especially if you are prone to anxiety or if there are significant consequences on the line. What if it is your job or something that will impact your livelihood or your identity? But Ferriss would push us to ask, "How can we expect to manage your fears if we can't talk about them?"
He reminds us at the end of his Ted Talk: “The hard choices -- what we most fear doing, asking, saying -- these are very often exactly what we most need to do. And the biggest challenges and problems we face will never be solved with comfortable conversations, whether it's in your own head or with other people.”
So we leave you with a challenge. Do some fear setting this week. Pick something, big or small, that scares you. We all have something scary - especially now - that we are managing. Try fear setting and see how it changes your relationship with both the immediate issue and with fear itself. Use this very simple cheat sheet as a starting place! If you get bold, consider bringing the exercise to your leadership team. Fear-set together.
When we bring the Unspeakables into the open and shine the light on them, we gain power over them.
We are excited to hear how you use Fear Setting. If you are a member of L+Doers Unite, please post on the slack channel this week. And if you aren't a member, what are you waiting for?