The way I see it, all human behaviors and interactions are motivated by raw fear.
We are forever bound to it with our lizard brains shaped by millenia of evolution. Our brains are hardwired to constantly scan our environment and seek out threats. Sometimes the threats are real (lion in the grass). Usually they are not (wind in the grass). But however false the threat turns out, we are forever scanning, forever bound by the possibility of the threat.
This concept—once grasped—can be a useful tool to analyze our world and help us make better decisions.
Consider an artist who claims they would die were they denied their paintbrush, so strong is their need to express their feelings and ideas on the canvas with shapes, colors, and textures.
Would they literally pass away if denied a drawing instrument? Obviously not. Ask yourself then: what could possibly cause such a passion? Nothing more than hyperactive pattern-searching. The artist’s brain is particularly tuned to patterns, contrasts, variations. The artist’s control of their hands and eyes is particularly tuned and trained to produce such patterns.
Ask yourself: why do you seek work? Why do you want to keep working? Why do you try to do your best work, or (inversely) why do you want to blend in and do the bare minimum? What drives you to learn and try convince others around you to learn, or (inversely) what drives you to keep status quo?
We are all driven by whatever fears our brains detect or generate. And the fears are constantly battling each other.
- Fear of not being recognized by our peers or superiors
- (Inversely) Fear of rocking the boat and upsetting our peers/superiors
- (Alternatively) Fear of your skills stagnating and not being able to acquire employment in the future
Which cascades to:
- Fear of losing work
- Fear of losing money
- Fear of losing possessions
- Fear of losing leisure and rest
- Fear of losing loved ones
- Fear of perishing yourself
I’m of the opinion that we can actually capture our fears and use them to drive our work. I’ve discussed the benefits of constraints previously.
The most potent—and arguably the hardest—thing we can do with a fear is to recognize it, identify it, examine it, and respond with a better understanding.
Fear is good. Fear is right. Fear works. Fear clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. (with apologies to Gordon Gekko)