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)



One thought on “Passion

  1. skywanderer

    Very intriguing and thought-provoking ideas. Please allow me to direct attention to some points that might need rethinking. Rationalising fear as a motivational power in one’s succeeding in life seems a psychologically detrimental and unsustainable driving force.
    In addition such notion definitely signifies one’s surrender to the economical-political environment increasingly driving the whole society into fear and keep them there by intimidation.

    Nevertheless as per the current trend towards a rapidly unfolding global fascist dictatorship, in the near future only fear will remain, whereas the opportunities to use fear as a driving force – to either merely survive or excel – will disappear on a planet owned by ca 50 families (an estimate provided by leading scholar and social scientist David Harvey)
    Hence the urgent necessity to wake up and understand the nature of our reality to change our future, before the current predatory capitalism will be sealed under a centralised private government, owned by financial giants who are rapidly widening their empire under one regime, and before they privatise and impoverish the entire planet via their coercive neo-liberal policies and austerity measures all over the world. (For details see my blog:

    Compared to the evidently negative emotion fear, we may want to think in terms of positive motivations such as one’s desire to excel at one’s highest potential, and the equally positive drive to rationally share the produced value with the others without any unbalanced settings of exploitation and without leaving anyone else in a vulnerable and exploitable position.


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