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Fact and Fear

"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

- Mark Twain

It's no secret that fear is one of the most powerful motivators for all living things. Healthy, rational fear prods us to take care of ourselves, protect our kids, and safeguard the material things we value.

But what happens when fear causes irrational behavior?

No need to look far for examples. View current headlines through the lens of fear:

  • Illegal immigration

  • Terrorism

  • Mass shootings

  • Gun rights

  • The "culture war"

  • Healthcare costs

  • Abortion rights

  • COVID-19

Just the mention of those topics generates a lot of emotion, and most of it rooted in fear.

Hucksters and Machiavellian politicians have long used this to their advantage. They realize that if they can get us to operate from a position of fear, it's incredibly easy to turn off the rational, logical part of our brain's, which makes us very vulnerable to manipulation.

And then there is the fear that comes from the masses...

By all accounts it is early in the life span of COVID-19. In the last month it has spread widely and has already caused many deaths. None of us really knows how big, and how devastating this outbreak might be. But the fear of it alone has shut down entire, developed countries; tanked financial markets; and fueled the fire of the blame game that always works in tandem with fear.

This is where leadership comes in. Competent leaders with integrity steer us back to the truth. They don't sugar-coat it. They don't exaggerate it. They don't pretend to have all of the answers.

In order for a leader to navigate a crisis it requires a base level of trust. People want to know that their leader is going to be straight with them, even if it's unpleasant or reflects poorly on them. We want to know that our leader is honest and reliable.

This is going to be interesting...

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