Seeing my children growing up, I always tried to figure out what emotion they learnt first, fear or safety.
I always felt safety is the feeling they knew first, all they knew in the womb was safety. But fear is the emotion that is always given more importance to.
I saw in them the fear of the unknown caused them to avoid things that they would have otherwise enjoyed.
On the contrary, a false sense of safety also led them to some stupid decisions that had dire consequences. Side effect of these unpleasant consequences, the next time with similar circumstances, fear prevailed.
Fear was an evolutionary necessity. Fear was the emotion that ensured our fore-fathers did not even dare to try anything they believe will have a dire consequence. Fear kept our fore-fathers safe.
The survival requirements of founders of start-ups or executives of businesses today are not in the same as the requirements of our fore-fathers hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Safety ensured survival of our fore-fathers, but it will equally ensure ultimate destruction of larger corporate.
If founders and executives let this same fear drive their decisions, their companies will stay in a safe zone, their companies will not progress as fast as they should.
The largest fear of executives is the fear of a change in status-quo. New technologies and systems constantly are introduced which are questioning the safety of the organisation. Should there be a paralysis driven by fear these technologies and systems are sure to disrupt an industry or sector. Corporations should allow this fear to contribute to an aggressive strategy of using new technologies or implementing new systems – not a defensive strategy of finding safety.
Founders of start-ups have somewhat different fears, not getting required funding, or not achieving the haloed hockey-stick curve. As their fears are more related to short term survival, they can not afford to fall into a paralysis. By the very nature of possibility and probability of death of their company, the fear will push the founder to be more aggressive.
This ambition and aggressiveness, can lead to disaster. I feel the founder should look for safety, and move from one position of safety to another as the company grows.
Fear and safety are the ying and yang, they go hand in hand, only when they are seen as a whole can we understand and use these emotions in a constructive way.
Founders and executives should be fearful and safe in the right portions to ensure progression and survival.