Quicksand: Why Fear is Deadlier than the Down Economy

Revenues are down, credit lines are tightening and banks are calling in loans. The stakes are high and the time available to act seems precious little. With more bad news arriving every day, business owners are feeling hopelessly mired in problems that all need to be addressed right now!

Naturally, this kind of situation makes people panic. We think, “I’m sinking, I’m sinking!” Thus, we sink. But is the economy the quagmire that’s pulling us down, or is it simply the fear we have about it?

An interesting bit of wisdom on this subject was dispensed by Keanu Reeves’ character in the movie “The Replacements.” The coach, played by Gene Hackman, asks his team to define the term “fear.” Various hulking football players take turns admitting to their fears of spiders and bees. Then, Reeves explains that his fear is “quicksand.” He describes what can happen to a successful team when things suddenly start going wrong, and troubles begin piling up. That’s when players start looking over their shoulders for the next thing to go wrong. And when you’re looking over your shoulder in terror, you can’t possibly keep your eye on the goal. Paralyzed by fear and uncertainty, you sink.

If you’re not inclined to take advice from Keanu Reeves, how about FDR? It was in the midst of an economic climate very similar to our own when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Consider your own company’s reaction to present circumstances. Are things coming at you rapidly? Does each day seem to bring more apparent difficulty or strife? Is the weight of these mounting issues dragging you deeper and deeper into the quicksand? If the answer to these questions is yes, then perhaps it’s time to stop and take a look at the things that matter most to your business and focus in those areas