Are We All Too Scared?

16 May, 2020 | Character

Fear is one of our most primal emotions. We experience fear when we perceive danger. From an evolutionary perspective, fear is the signal that helps us avoid hunting lions and drowning rivers. In short, fear is survival.

Fast-forward to 2020. Sam lives in London. He commutes to work by bus. He earns a decent salary, eats well and lives in a nice flat. He doesn’t encounter lions. He doesn’t feed on possibly poisonous berries. And he has no reason to cross fast-flowing rivers. The point is, his life is pretty safe.

Yet, Sam still feels fear. Fear to ask for a pay-rise. Fear to change career. Fear to start a business. Which got me thinking, do we feel fear too strongly?

Tim Urban has a great post on Elon Musk, called The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce. He discusses Musk’s ability to reason from first principles to make decisions and start businesses. Randall makes the point “we mistake the chef’s (Elon’s) accurate understanding of risk for courage”. Musk as an example here is important. This is the guy who has started a Rocket Company. He’s thought of us a crazy and fearless entrepreneur. But is that true? Here is Musk himself talking about fear:

Two primary takeaways:

  • He does feel fear (yep, we all do)
  • He does things anyway

Perhaps its easy for us to sit back and say Elon is crazy. But maybe the harder question to ask ourselves is, are we all too scared?