I've been watching too much Boardwalk Empire.
I find mobsters intriguing. Names like Rothstein, Luciano, Lansky, Capone and Nitti have a special place in my consciousness. To a great degree, they inspired this post.
Let me be clear - I don't condone the actions of these men. By every account, they were violent law-breakers of the worst kind. That being said, what I can't help but admire is how these men were able to master the emotion of fear and use it to build successful (albeit criminal) businesses.
I find that fear isn't a topic that people enjoy talking about. Fear is associated with weakness and cowardice - something shameful that should be kept hidden. On the eve of our opening (or more likely morning by the time I click 'Publish'), I'd like to share my views on fear with you.
Fear is an ever-present in business. They call it names like risk (a variable that your average 1920's bootlegging mobster would be well-acquainted with). I divide fear into two categories: make-believe fear and true fear.
Make-believe fear is, as the name suggests, is a lie. Make-believe fear comes from our own insecurities; from the baggage we've amassed over the years. It's the kind of fear that makes us retreat back into our shells or blindly charge forward. It's useless but incredibly dangerous.
True fear, on the other hand, can be useful. It's natural to feel fear because it is tied to the most basic instincts - our will to survive. True fear is that hunch or gut feeling that helps guide the decisions we make. Sure, it may not always be based on rational thought; but it can helps us remain in the present, avoid obstacles and seize opportunities. It's a great tool if you can build the discipline to control it.
So add a touch of mobster to your business acumen. The next time you have to speak in public or join a conversation at a networking event, ask yourself - true fear or just make-believe?