On March 4, 1933, newly elected U.S. President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, uttered the now famous words, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” during his inaugural speech. At the time, the United States was facing on Roosevelt’s one of the worst economic crisises in history and the eternally optimistic FDR was trying his best to keep the country from erupting in panic. Whether it was that statement or dozens of his innovative new approaches to kick start the economy, things began to rapidly improve soon after that speech.
As I was thinking about this phrase during a run the other day, I realized that this lesson — why fear fear — was a powerful one. It’s not always easy to keep our fear at bay but by letting it get the best of us, we play “tight” as they saying goes in sports. Instead of demonstrating our best selves, we get conservative, start second guessing and generally tend to trip over ourselves. A classic example of this would be highly paid baseball player, Alex Rodriguez, who is a hitting and fielding machine for the Yankees during the regular season but when it comes time for the post season, hits a good .024 points lower (.301 versus .277).
One of the things I hear most from people who either haven’t engaged in social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest) is that they don’t know what to write. Or they are afraid that people won’t find what they have to say interesting. Either way, their fear of doing something wrong can impact their ability to go with the flow and just be themselves. This fear holds them back and prevents them from engaging with the people they want to connect with. Of course businesses are no different when it comes to social.
Many times companies get excited about launching a Facebook page or a Youtube channel. They spend months working with their agency or internal marketing/IT department to design everything perfectly. They decide who is going to update the channel and if they are worth their salt, what a rough editorial calendar will look like. And then — wait for it — they freeze up. Afraid that they might say something that the legal department might not like or something a competitor might latch onto, they slow down their posting to a snail’s pace. Or worse yet, they resort to generic posts once or twice a week that become increasingly promotional. Those one or two initial blog posts or over produced videos languish, destined to be passed over for fresher more exciting content published by lessor creators.
There is obviously a reason we experience fear. But more often than not, it’s what holds us back. Whether you are a politician, an athlete or someone on social media team at a company, once in a while it might be helpful to take a step back and remind ourselves that the only thing to fear, is fear itself.