This week we are again privileged to host a guest post from a celebrated author. Scott Mautz released his book Find the Fire this week to a world that struggles deeply with finding inspiration and fulfillment in our work. One of the roadblocks we face most often in our careers and lives is fear.
Fear will never, ever, stop if left unchecked.
The impact that fear has on inspiration is unquestionably both manifold and malevolent. In general, the negative emotion and energy of fear alters our capacity to harness the positive energy of inspiration. While inspiration presses us forward, fear holds us back.
More specifically, fear assaults our sense of inspiration in five ways:
- Fear disrupts the preparedness of our mind for being inspired.
It greatly compromises our ability to focus, be present, still our minds, listen and reflect – all the necessary state of mind ingredients for being maximally receptive to the advances of inspiration.
- Fear blocks action.
If we can work around fear to be inspired by something, it then engages in a second stage of interference, keeping us from being inspired to. As organizational behavior expert Kevin Cavanagh articulates, “Individuals who do not feel psychologically safe (are experiencing fear) in their work environment may still be inspired by the work they are doing, but feel unsafe in taking the risks to act out being inspired to do something.” Neuro-economist Gregory Burns (how bad-ass is that, neuro-economist) brings it right down to our brain functions: “The most concrete thing that neuroscience tells us is that when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risk-taking are turned off. Fear prompts retreat (the opposite of progress).”
- Fear dissuades discovery and growth.
It creates a stasis that prevents us from discovering new ideas, uncovering new interests, and engaging in things that might bring improvements to our life – all fundamental sources of inspiration.
- Fear engages our brain in the wrong conversation.
Instead of encouraging the imagination of inspiring possibilities it narrows our scope of thinking and steers us towards an obsession with limitations and negative thoughts.
- Fear distorts reality and unfairly creates inaccurate, unfounded, but self–accepted truths that further stifle our receptivity to inspiration.
Fear is a formidable enough foe of inspiration – and resultant creativity – that two prominent authors, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat. Pray. Love.) and Steven Pressfield (War of Art) have personified it in an attempt to keep it at bay. Gilbert likens it to someone who goes along on a car ride with you while you are trying to create. Fear can sit there quietly, but can’t touch the radio and most certainly can’t drive. Pressfield calls the force which keeps us from progressing our creative endeavors “The Resistance”, a force (like procrastination or a blockage of disciplined effort) which draws its power from our fear of it. This force snuffs out any wisp of inspiration.
The good news here is you don’t need to go so far as to put a face to your fear. You just need to face it down – and stop letting fear limit you.
It’s time to tear the bubble wrap off your life.
There is simply too much at stake to stay cocooned. When we press past our fears and venture forth “unprotected”, we discover. We set new limits. We imagine. We feel our strengths strengthening and our self-doubts dashed. We learn we can take a punch, and are better for it. We see opportunities, not opposition.
We become inspired once again.
About Scott Mautz
Scott is the CEO of Profound Performance – a keynote, workshop, coaching, and online training company that helps you “Work, Lead, & Live Fulfilled”. He is also a Procter & Gamble veteran who ran several of the company’s largest multi-billion dollar businesses, including their single largest, a $3 Billion Dollar division. At P&G, Scott consistently transformed business results and organizational/cultural health scores along with it.
Author of upcoming book, Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration and Make Work Exciting Again, and award-winning keynote speaker and author of Make it Matter: How Managers Can Motivate by Creating Meaning, a book that’s been named “The 2016 Leadership Book of the Year – First Runner Up” by Leadership & Management Books and a “Best 30 Book of the Year” by Soundview Business Books.