Fear is not wrong. Fear is life.

Death may not be proud, as John Donne told us but neither is fear. For decades we’ve thought of FDR’s “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” and forgotten that it was situational and not generic. “We have nothing to fear [right now], but fear itself [during these uncertain economic times so get back on that horse and start spending money please]”.


There are certainly other things to fear, and I do not always agree that it is a mind killer, as the average Bene Gesserit might have you believe at the end of her Gom Jabbar.

No, fear is a vital emotion and chemical motivator. It is the spice that makes the final push possible in all too many engagements, and it is the motivator both of risk and response. Sure it can cause a superior armed force to panic at the wrong moment and be overwhelmed, but it can also get you out of the way of the mid-town bus before you get squished. How many research papers and TPS reports have been delivered solely motivated by fear? Most of them.

Fear is sometimes the instinctual reminder that all things on our menu don’t need to be a fine aged steak, when there’s yogurt and a banana for breakfast. Fear is the seasoning of many a great movie, most amusement park rides, and the thrust of most political campaigns these days — Donald Trump wouldn’t have a case without a little fear here and there.

But like an overused seasoning, fear can be too much. Fear does have some aspects of a mind killer in the wrong circumstances, and understanding why you fear something is more important than just calling your fear wrong. It’s okay to be afraid as long as you confront why you’re afraid and check in and make sure that the fear is warranted.

In the meantime, just remind yourself that there is not true bravery without fear, and there is no challenge to risk without a healthy dose of fear inspired respect for the consequences of your actions.