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  • Writer's pictureScott Francis

Opportunity in Fear

Carl Jung reported an idea from the Alchemists, which translated roughly as "That which you most need to find, will be found where you least want to look." It was a summary on how to treat fear.

In times of uncertainty, we have the choice to panic and run from our fears. That path is full of hazards, not because it is inherently more dangerous, but because we run down it with our eyes shut.

Ares, the Greek god of war and destruction, was accompanied by two dogs - Phobos and Diemos. Fear and Panic. When the dogs of War descended on an army, they lost their resolve, they lost their will, they lost their heads - some of them literally. We still let Fear & Panic chase us toward ruin.

An alternative is to face our fears. This is difficult, because as Joe Louis (and later Mike Tyson) put it "everyone's got a plan until they get hit." Our instinct for self-preservation screams at us to turn and run. Especially when we start to get hit in the face. Our face and front contain our most vulnerable targets. Eyes, throats, and bellies are sensitive, fragile, unprotected.

We need information... to aim our response.

But our eyes help us aim, gauge distance, judge speed. Our limbs are designed to hit, kick, and throw forward. The physical and conceptual tools we've developed over millennia of overcoming problems are all essentially spears. We need information to use our tools properly, to aim our response. Modern firearms training instills the phrase "Eyes-Muzzle-Threat" to build the habit of keeping our senses & our weapons pointed at the threat, the enemy. We need to face the danger.

We need information, so we have to look at what we fear. To find it's vulnerabilities, to find the opportunity hidden among the dangers, to find the best path forward, the best solution. It's difficult to look, to face the fear, but the more we do it the better we get. We all start by looking for monsters in the closet & under the bed, but before long we're keeping our family safer, or finding ways to benefit our community.

The hero is one who seeks to confront progressively larger fears, and will find progressively more valuable information and solutions.

What about your current situation frightens you? What part of it are you willing to face?

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