I’m not a fan of fear. I do fear once in a generation. Fear about the future of advertising and agencies led me to create Lovemarks as the new point of emotional relevance. I once picked up Susan Jeffer’s classic title Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, which was a big hit in the self-improvement aisle at bookstores when it came out in the late 80s and is still selling today. The book says that experiencing fear is natural and that people have the power to grab hold of their fears, move past them and move on with their lives.

Now there’s a different kind of conversation happening around topic around fear which has been introduced by Tara Mohr, an author and coach who encourages women to ‘play big’ in business and in life.

In a blog post Mohr shares what she learned about fear from the late Rabbi Alan Lew, who explained that in biblical Hebrew, there are different words for fear. The first, ‘pachad’ is projected or imagined fear. The kind that torments us with worst-case scenarios and threats that aren’t really there. The kind that makes us want to play it safe and stay within the confines of our comfort zone. It carries a sense of threat and panic. The second, ‘yirah’ is fear that makes us feel like we’re inhabiting a larger space, or possessing a greater amount of energy than we’re used to. The kind that is often aligned with matters of the heart, when we feel inspired to pursue an idea or to follow our dreams. It carries a sense of exhilaration and awe.

Mohr makes the important distinction between these two types of fear, pointing out that we often confuse the two and therefore fail to respond appropriately. “Pachad-type fears are irrational,” says Mohr, and we should remind ourselves that they are just imagined. Yirah-type fears, on the other hand, we should capture. “Lean into – and look for – the callings and leaps that bring yirah.” Her advice suggests applying a degree of reflection, but with a focus on action – facing the fear.

In this context, this quote by the late Dale Carnegie seems apt: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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