Fear is a good thingAt the beginning of every venture I’ve ever started, risk I’ve ever taken, and strategy I’ve ever executed—there was always an inkling of fear lurking. Most people would be quick to shove that fear or be ashamed of it. I say do neither. Tap into that fear!
Fear is a good thing, as long as it does not become debilitating. It’s a reminder that we are doing something bigger than ourselves, something that could have negative consequences. Fear brings us back to reality and reminds us to tread lightly. This then allows us to fortify our strategies to mitigate our fear, which in turn makes us better prepared to face challenges. If you don’t anticipate challenges or uncertainty, your strategy is flawed—and you are both ill-prepared and ill-equipped to execute that strategy because you need a strategy for how to respond when things don’t go your way.
Compared to most people, I would be considered highly fearless. Because I love risk and am not as easily phased by big/unrealistic challenges. But that is not entirely true. I get afraid. Oftentimes my own dreams scare me because they are bigger than me. The only difference is that I use that fear to guide me, to make decisions that will prevent me from meeting the fate I fear.
Fear that results in inaction is dangerous. You can’t live in so much fear that you end up achieving nothing because you are too afraid to act.
A person without any fear is also dangerous because they have no compass to bring them back to earth and remind them of reality. The one thing we can’t always control is reality. There are variables we can control, but in the process of trying to achieve something people don’t fully understand—you will be faced with rude realities and if you have no fear, you may decide to react to these realities in merciless ways to create a path for the reality you seek.
But when you act without consideration of others, you create loss to yourself and others—in which case you fail.
Short story for this point: Ramatex is an international textile producer. It opened a massive textile factory in Namibia. Ramatex essentially came to Namibia to benefit from the provisions of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which granted duty-free access to the US market for companies that produce in African countries "approved" by the US government.
Despite protest from workers (due to labour violations) and community members (where the city began reeking heavily due to air pollution from the factory), it confidently [backed by corruption] continued to exploit workers and ramped up production.
Ultimately, it was clear the cost to Namibia would far outweigh the benefits derived from Ramatex. The Namibian people stepped and International Textile, Garment, and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF) stepped up, which led Ramatex to close its doors in Namibia.
Long story short, fear can be good as it can be turned into a weapon or fuel that can help your strategy become a winning strategy.
*Twama Nambili is an entrepreneur and strategist. MBA '22, Brandeis University; MSc '17, University of London.