Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Are You Motivated By Fear?

I'm preparing a presentation to be delivered in two weeks called "Getting Beyond the Fear Factor." Here is the description:

How much of our work experience is dictated by fear? If we're honest, we might be shocked to realize how much we are being held back from achieving our goals. This thought-provoking presentation will give participants new ways to think about what's keeping them from achieving their full potential.

I love Lance Secretan's distinction between motivation and inspiration. He says motivation is external and fear-based while inspiration is finding what's already inside a person and helping to bring it out.

What are your fears and how do they keep you trapped? I'd love to include information and research from my readers here, so please help me spread the word about fear at work. If you have any resources for me to refer to, that would be great, too!

My theory is that if we can talk about fear openly, we'll be much more likely to beyond motivation to inspiration.

Thanks in advance for your help!


At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I's like to push your fear-based environment a step further: a person's work output can be either fear-based or inspiration-based. Either will produce actual output, but only one will result in output that is positive, both in the doing and in the resulting response/reaction to the actual output, which in turns affect other's work with the output, which in get the idea--the work of one CAN/DOES affect many!

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I precisely agree with Lance (or with Lisa). I think fear can be an intensely powerful motivator, even of positive output. Athletes often experience outstanding results because they are afraid of failure. In my own career as a Wall Street Journal reporter, I often worked harder because I was terrified the NY Times might have a story I didn't. And our early successes in our careers can frequently be driven by a fear of disappointing our parents. (I certainly see that with my own kids, who study harder and longer when they think they might lose a privilege or disappoint my wife or me).

If I can take a stab at this, I think fear is a strong SHORT-TERM motivator. It's one of those things that we can tolerate while we're young (and possibly immature) until we realize that positive motivation can be much more effective and a better driver of our passions. Then things start to shift.

Probably no new thoughts in there, but my $.02.

At 1:47 AM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...

Lisa & Kevin:

You've each given me so much to think about! I agree that fear can be a powerful motivator - but I also agree that it's only a short-term solution, as you've both pointed out. At this point in my career (and my life) I'm less interested in short-term ideas than in long-term solutions, which you acknowledge, Kevin, as the place where things start to shift.

I think most of us are quite familiar with the feelings - the physical feelings - fear brings up in us. Risk aversion and caution might become outcomes of fear-based leadership over time.

I think we're all in agreement that positive reinforcement is more favorable for long-term results.

Thank you so much for visiting and giving me more food for thought!

At 1:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My fears at work center around getting laid off - something completely out of my control. So it usually doesn't effect my day to day. I do tend to brown nose a little around the holidays and make sure not to piss off the important people unintentially. However, I am 100% dedicated to doing good work, so I will fight whomever I need to in order to make that happen - without fear of reprecussions.


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