Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

That other four letter “F” word

When my son was about three years old, he approached me with a rather interesting question:

“Daddy, what is the “F” word, is it flip or is it f**k?

Once I’d recovered from the shock and stifled laughter I, of course had to give him the answer and put his mind at rest. As a responsible parent I also advised him to avoid using it at all costs!

However, I would venture to suggest there is another four letter “F” word that is every bit as taboo and unpleasant as the better known one that my son was enquiring about.

That word is fear. Oops, sorry, f**r.

This is the great unspoken “F” word, especially in the world of work. Yet, I would go as far as to say that fear is a modern epidemic. How much of what we do and how many of the decisions we make (or don’t end up making) are based on fear? A few weeks ago, for example I wrote a blog post about lying and how most of the time untruths come from the mouths of those who are afraid. You will find it here.

The issue  isn’t only to do with the fear itself, but also the fact that most of us go around hiding it and over compensating for it by appearing confident, strident and self assured. Posturing.  I do it myself at times. I’ve yet to become bold enough to declare to business associates how scared I am on occasion (although this blog piece may be a start!). I believe that the greater level of openness and self disclosure can only bode well for building stronger, more trusting business relationships.

What gets in the way?

I guess I fear that if I express my fear, that that fear will make people fear working with me for fear that I’m not that good because I suffer from fear at times. What a fearful situation!

I realise that this has been exacerbated recently by my being sucked into a kind of mass fear that is fuelled predominantly by the media. I find that I have been feeding myself a drip drip diet of fearful news and current affairs. This seems to have come to a head with world events of the past few weeks. So, I have now re-tuned my radio (we have no TV at home) to give me an alternative diet of classical music peppered with a minimum amount of news coverage simply to remain informed. I am partly inspired by an associate of mine who has not purposely listened to the news or read a paper in over a decade – he’s doing quite nicely without having to know everything that’s going on in the news. He calls this his ongoing “mental detox”.

Conversely I recall seeing a man stood on a rail platform one morning a few years back listening to his personal stereo. I noticed that his brow was furrowed, his jaw was tight and his hand was clasping his briefcase in a vice-like grip. He looked ready to explode. I could just about hear the jingle for a well known London news station coming from his earphones. My impression was clearly that he was drip-feeding himself stuff to feel afraid about.

So, how many of us might feel able to take just two initial steps to start counteracting the toxic effects of this four letter “f” word?

The first being to admit we are afraid at times – it is said that vulnerability is strength. How would the world of work and business fare if we were all to posture and swagger that little bit less and we felt safe enough to express our fear at times in an open yet clear, appropriate way?  If it goes unspoken, it will invariably find its outlet in other ways – all destructive in one form or other.

The second move would be to seriously limit our exposure to the news media. I’m sure some of you would consider that unthinkable, so a first step could be to avoid listening to it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I wonder how many alarm radios are tuned into the news when they go off in the morning? How does that set us up for the day? Might we sleep better if we avoid Newsnight or similar as a nightcap?

So, without meaning to sound too parental or bossy, watch out for what you do with that “F” word please!

Meanwhile, as my son might feel safe in saying – have a f***ping great week!           


2 Responses to “That other four letter “F” word”

  1. Reminds me of another 4 letter word ‘face’and how important it is not to cause other people to lose face. Lots of our behaviour is geared around this maxim.
    Maybe we can ‘flip’ this ‘fear’ around so we mind less about what others say about us!?
    ps. I am alarmed to hear from my son that it is common practise amongst teenagers to leave a whole lot of insults on a victim’s facebook page for all to see. What a loss of face must the victim feel, remembering this is then automatically sent out to all their faceboof ‘friends’

  2. You are right about the news – we can’t make a difference listening to or watching it every day. Once a week is about as much as I can stomach so “The Week” is what I read, once a week – “all you need to know about everything that matters”.

    The above comment about facebook is alarming – facebook fear. Glad I’m not a teenager.

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