PPPPushing our Fears Aside (Four P's #183)
Going From Limitation to Motivation
What are you afraid of?
No, this isn't a Brene Brown-inspired edition of the Four P's, but acknowledging and understanding what holds us back can be incredibly powerful no matter the environment - personal or professional.
For some, it maybe a fear of the unknown or fear of failure. For me, it's usually much more tangible: fear of getting hit in the face, fear of vomit, a fear of public restrooms (among many, many other things). But instead of running from these fears, let’s face them head on… at least some of them.
SOMETHING PROFESSIONAL: Fear of Irrelevance
It is well established that the fear of failure can be a huge inhibitor of professional ambition, success, and development. But that’s NOT where I’m headed… Personally, I've learned to harness the potential for failure as a source of motivation, not limitation. Over the course of my career, I've repeatedly pivoted away from the familiar, the safe, the comfortable, and stable to tackle something less secure and far more uncertain. The first was leaving the NBA to build a digital content start-up. Then switching gears from a content / publishing focus to build what became the first social media marketing practice at a digital agency. And most recently, running from Web2 to Web3, which could not have happened if I allowed a fear of failure to hold me back.
But the fear of irrelevance… a fear of becoming unnecessary may have played a far more significant role in my decision-making process. Fear of boredom, of complacency, and mental stagnation has fueled the curiosity, interest, and passion to innovate. An early mentor called it “healthy paranoia,” but the opportunity to discover, pursue, establish, and promulgate new ideas, fresh processes, and original content formats was worth the risk.
Web3 for marketers is uncharted, untapped, undetermined. It has created both need and opportunity to build something new, and never seen before. Fortunately, many of the same principles apply from Web 2.0. What I love about Web3 is that it presents options. Individuals have choices, whether in the financial system or the ways in which we engage with others more broadly. The opportunities are enticing, the competition is exciting, and the risk of failure is empowering. Sure, with new technology comes skepticism, confusion and doubt. But fear of irrelevance requires breaking away from roles, positions, or functions at companies in which many others could succeed.
At Mint, our technology is sound. The vision is clear. And while we're still slightly ahead of the market, I've LOVED the opportunity to educate, convince, strategize yet again. The use cases will continue to evolve, but the possibilities for marketers are endless. It just means dispelling some myths. Myths such as "NFTs are bad for the environment" or are "just for art creators." Wrong and wrong.
Thank you to everyone who has been open-minded, to those who have asked to learn more, and to everyone who provided help and support as we've launched our platform, added new features, and introduced new NFT campaigns over the past year. Last month, we launched a new blog and newsletter to highlight things happening in the web3 and with NFTs: news, recent drops, projects, partnerships, and more. If you don't want to subscribe, opt in, or follow us please don't. No obligations, no judgments. But it's really fucking good.
The term “NFT” already has some connotations and misconceptions that come with it. Maybe we should call them digital assets or "tokens," as they are keys to unlocking new (and, in some cases, familiar) experiences... the connection linking physical products, events, and experiences to digital identities. The Mint ecosystem works for creators and brand marketers to revolutionize how consumers think about authenticity and identity, though tot everyone moves at the same speed, or with the same freedom from fear. The technology has advanced at lightning speed, but brand strategy and creativity (not to mention legal and regulatory) are moving at a far slower speed. And that's ok. For now. Many of these initial projects and designs must bridge Web3 technology and Web 2.0 experiences, but don’t let YOUR fear of failure hold back the the revolution that is already underway for NFTs over the next few years.
SOMETHING PERSONAL: Fear of the Unknown
On what seems like a nightly basis, our family struggles to decide what to do for dinner. Make a box of pasta? Order in from the same restaurants? Breakfast for dinner? Or mix it up and try something new? I almost always will prefer the first three options over the fourth. Why? Because the risks outweigh the rewards.
This past weekend, I gave in. My wife convinced me to try a local Mediterranean restaurant that wasn’t exactly new to the area, but was new to us. Quite consciously, my fear of disappointing her overpowered my fear of the unknown. I pored over the Seamless page and selected what I believed to be the "safest" meal on the menu. And guess what? It was actually quite delicious.
Unfortunately within 30 seconds of finishing my meal, I suffered a terrible bout of food poisoning for the first time in my life. Without oversharing TMI, I haven't thrown up that much since the night of her 30th birthday, when I felt obligated to finish all of the remaining alcohol in the bottles we bought for our VIP table at the club that night (which speaks to my fear of letting things go to waste).
If there's a lesson here... I'm not actually sure what it is. Perhaps some fears are good and protect us from things that are bad? Perhaps our bodies’ natural defenses should minimize some of the fears? Or maybe it's about making calculated assessments to assess and balance different fears? Or it could just be to never order from The Wild Fig on Northern Boulevard in Roslyn, N.Y. ever again. Yup, it’s probably that.
SOMETHING POLITICAL: Balancing Fears and Freedoms
Nearly all human fears can be traced back, in one way or another, to a fear of death. The fear of heights, arachnophobia, and fear of crowds are all rooted in the idea that a fall, an animal, or a crowd could kill them. Similarly, people who live in fear of losing their jobs struggle with the deeper fear that they might lose their livelihoods, their homes and, in the worst case scenario, ultimately die after being forced to live on the streets.
Sounds grim, I know. But the fear of death has emerged as a pervasive concern in the last century. For thousands of years, rituals, ceremonies and beliefs celebrating the afterlife actually negated the human fear of death. Even parenting guides from the 1950s and 1960s argued that a fearful child was an embarrassment; fears were thought to prevent children from growing into healthy, independent adults.
So have we gotten smarter? Better informed? Or just more aware of our own mortality? Or maybe we’ve gotten more responsible as a society. It has always been the government’s responsibility to keep us safe from threats both foreign and domestic.
Nowadays, technology and mixed media expose us to more bad shit on a regular basis. War, terrorist attacks, school shootings, disease... Just a few years ago, the sight of people wearing masks on the street were thought of as hypochondriacs. But the awareness of, and fear of, life-threatening illnesses has changed as medicine evolves. What might seem hysterical should possibly become the norm. The ways in which we are now connected, the speed with which we travel around the world, the mass interactions we have with others... Most scientists now believe that there will be more pandemics in the years to come, not fewer. Has wearing a mask made us more afraid? Looking at cause and effect, it's the virus that should make us afraid, and the masks that alleviate those fears. Especially since COVID has now SHORTENED the average lifespan of human beings for the first time in a century.
So while many people may be ready to "move on," go back "to normal," or just "get on with life" -- and we're seeing it with mass unmasking and reduced mitigation efforts just about everywhere - here we go again, with another COVID variant ticking up again.
Two years ago, we didn't take the threats seriously enough or act fast enough. Apparently we've learned very little... because minor and minimally disruptive measures like wearing masks indoors around other people can keep us healthy, live better, and help us live longer. So why, then, are so many people now more afraid of wearing masks for a little while longer than of sickness and death?
SOMETHING PRACTICAL: Fear of Burnout
As a longtime manager and leader, I’m quite sensitive to the possibility of employee burnout. I’ve seen it unfold slowly, I’ve seen things unravel quickly, and I’ve been caught off-guard at how detrimental it can be. Fortunately, burnout has never affected me on a professional or personal level. Even going non-stop for the past few months (including weekends), I’ve not once considered the potential for fatigue. This is not a brag or a flex of any kind, but for the first 2+ decades of my career, I've been impervious to exhaustion.
One of the reasons why is that I still find time to unplug. It becomes rarer and harder as a parent, but this past weekend, I returned to one of the few activities that allows me to truly disconnect: Painting.
Not artistic painting, but planning and slapping on new coats of paint to refresh walls, doors, and ceilings in my home. It may be the only mental "break" I know. It creates opportunities to both physically focus and mentally zone out at the same time. And while I try not to worry about total perfection in most cases, there is a real pride in accomplishment and achievement beyond the activity.
And this past weekend's basement bathroom project also came with some practical advice from my dad: "Do these things for as long as you can, because you won’t be able to do it forever."