Monthly Archives: December 2013

False Evidence Appearing Real


So many of the skills we hope to help you learn through Neck Up are not only applicable at work but at home.  I (Mike) often find that I need only increase my awareness, and so many of the leadership skills that we teach in a business setting are easily transferable to home.  This is exactly what happened in my family last Saturday, which I’ll explain in a moment.

Last week we provided an email with some wisdom from the recently deceased Nelson Mandela – “The brave man is he who is not afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  Mark Twain similarly noted – “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

So, why the focus on fear?

Well, between today’s status quo and tomorrow’s accomplishment of your SMART goals, you will find a number of road blocks.  As we learned during the Goals Webex, leaders are capable of diagnosing when they are succumbing to roadblocks and perform what we called “pattern interrupt.”  They are able to break the pattern, which could be a habit, an attitude, a business process, etc., that is preventing them from achieving their goal.  As the participants in Late Night Leadership learned through the “Peaks and Valleys” book, so often one of those road blocks is indeed fear.

In leadership literature FEAR is often referred to as False Evidence Appearing Real.  Bill is also fond of another Twain quote that speaks directly to this – “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Last Saturday my son had his first swim meet of the year, and he was scheduled to swim his first ever 200 yard race.  He was terrified, and this was preventing him from getting in the frame of mind for a youngster to swim a 200 yard race.  When we finally drilled down to why he was afraid, we found he thought it was hard, and he was convinced that because it was twice as far as any race he’d ever been in before that he was sure to sink before he finished (false evidence appearing real).

Enter in technology and a little JFK….

My son had recently learned about JFK during a unit at school and I recalled him viewing the JFK moon speech on YouTube.  So, we popped up the internet in the middle of the Wittenberg High School Commons and listened to JFK say – “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they’re easy, but because they’re hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and others, too.”

I turned to Tanner and asked him if he thought the first astronauts were terrified – “yes Dad.”  Did they still go to the moon?  “Yes, Dad.”  And, Tanner, why are you going to swim the 200 yard today?  “Because it’s hard.”  He medaled and that race was his best placing of the meet.

We know adults learn through stories, and we know you all have great stories and thoughts to share with your peers.  So, we encourage you to share an instance in which you or someone you know was able to overcome fear.  Alternatively, you could share one of your favorite historical examples of great leaders overcoming fear.

Unlike previous bonus blogs, providing a post on this blog will provide you a credit toward the PTO/cash program.