The Catalyst of Fear

Posted November 4, 2009 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

One of my favorite boss-isms from my favorite former boss is this, “Fear can either paralyze you or mobilize you.” And as Halloween came and went, we all had a little bit to think about when it comes to the classical understanding of fear.

On Halloween, I watched scary movies, I went to a haunted house, all in the celebration of a holiday that’s goal is to provoke the adrenaline rush of fear (not to mention sugar rushes and slutty costumes). Why? Because in those moments, running through a haunted house, watching a movie, fear is entirely mobilizing. When you’re in the middle of a corn maze, knowing there’s only one way out and you’ve got to find it, being paralyzed won’t help you. You have no choice but to mobilize.

So why, if we can do this on Halloween, can’t we do it in our normal lives? So much of the time, when we fear something, we paralyze ourselves. We stop making decisions, we ask too many people for opinions, we think to much, worry too much, fret too much. We paralyze instead of mobilizing.

So maybe there are two different kinds of fear? Maybe we crave and seek out the Halloween kind of fear because we know it will mobilize us. The question I have is this, though: could we re-learn how to deal with the second kind of fear in the way we deal with the first kind of fear.

So let’s all give it a shot – from now on, when you encounter fear, approach it as if you’re running out of a haunted house corn maze. Mobilize. Make it immediate and without thought. Make it adrenaline filled and exhilarating. Maybe that will get you through times of fear better than any questioning or paralysis.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."