Fear has many different outlets. Screams are the obvious. Spiders, bugs in general, and certain situations bring out the fear within us, at times overwhelming our ability to control our reactions. I have come to appreciate that fear drives our behavior in many other ways. In the marketplace – corporate life, startup environments, and the like – fear shapes the words we use as well as decisions and actions we take.
The power fear has over us would be less if we always behaved as adults. As I reflect on the way different situations have played out over time, even when I am the lead actor, fear is a dominating driver and motivator. There is a recurring sequence that emerges.
Situations are described to make a point. Details that would give a holistic and balanced perspective are discarded. The intent is to anchor a premise in enough facts that it cannot be disputed. Motives of those involved are implied and assumed. Openness to the other is not an option. The messenger’s intent starts with the negative, not the positive. The lead character’s lament often describes the situation accurately; “My competitors blacken my name, devoutly they pray for my ruin.” (Psalm 38.12)
Life reminds me that it is possible to make my words valuable.
Find the positive in those around you, including people holding a different view. There is good within everyone waiting to be discovered and celebrated.
Look for shared aspirations. They may be hiding and difficult to find, but they often exist.
Reach for ideas and steps that move things forward. Being defensive or going on the attack is, ideally, a last resort.
There are far too many cheap words in my speech. While I cannot directly do anything about others, I can address myself. Within each is the power and opportunity to make each word valuable. It will not be easy. At times it will feel like one is defenseless. Experience reminds me that the best defense in our journey is a life lived fully and completely. Our words are at the heart of this.