Maybe stop using the word "fear". Clearer words drive clearer actions.

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Maybe stop using the word “fear”

“What’s the matter? Are ya chicken?”

So the playground bully convinces a classmate to do something foolish.

And a well-meaning coach can reflect that playground bully.

“Don’t let fear hold you back.”
“What are you afraid of?”
“Fear is a sign that you’re on the right track.”

Sometimes, those challenges are exactly what a coaching recipient needs to hear. Other times, it’s the equivalent of an imprudent dare.

To the foolish or inexperienced, wisdom often looks like fear.

I’ve recently challenged myself to stop using the words “fear” and “afraid” when I feel hesitant or resistant to an idea. Instead, I’m choosing to adopt a more descriptive word like one of these:

  • Paranoid
  • Terrified
  • Nervous
  • Hesitant
  • Resistant
  • Skeptical
  • Cautious
  • Concerned
  • Discerning
  • Prudent

If I can replace “afraid” with one of those words, then I can figure out an appropriate response.

For words that come early in the list, I should just get over it and do the thing.

For words that come later in the list, the voice of resistance is probably the voice of wisdom to be heeded.

Words matter. If you can force yourself to find the right word, you can probably also find the right path to respond.

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