What if I told you there’s a way to turn worry and stress into jet-pack fuel?
Do you ever think how odd the “rabbit in the headlights” effect is?
Something is coming at you. Something scary. You’re response? Freeze.
Humans, like rabbits, can become “frozen with fear.”
That’s odd isn’t it? I think God had his B-team of DNA developers on that one. Of all the survival strategies available to you, if something scary is coming your way, being completely still seems to be your lowest-odds play.
Turns out though that it’s not so much a strategy, as a glitch. You kind of just crash. You freeze up like a computer.
We can kind of think about this like flooding an engine. Maybe only my older readers will get this one. I don’t think it’s possible to flood modern cars these days.
As a refresher for you kids out there, ‘flooding’ happens when you fill the system with too much fuel before it’s up and firing. You drown the engine. There’s too much fuel for the ignition systems to handle.
You can have too much of a good thing.
Same story with stress and fear.
Both of these are a fuel – a source of energy.
If you’ve ever had a near-accident in a car you’ll know what I’m talking about. Think about the adrenalin rush that followed. Your body becomes electric. You’re fully alive. Energy is coursing through your veins.
If it wasn’t for the fact that you’d just come face to face with your own mortality, it would actually be a beautiful and exhilarating experience. You could bottle it and sell it.
(oh wait, there’s coffee.)
But as I said, there can be too much of a good thing. Too much fear locks you up. The energy jams. You turn to stone. Blue screen of death.
And I’m looking at what’s going on in the market right now and this is exactly what I’m seeing.
A friend of mine came to me the other day and totally convinced that this was the crash we had been waiting 500 years for.
“This is it Jon. I can feel it in my bones. We’re going over the cliff this time.”
“Alright then, so what have you done? Bought up gold? Gone to cash? Built a bunker?”
Nope. Nothing. They’d done nothing.
And I can understand that too. There’s are confusing times. It’s not like the scenario is as simple as a bear running at you, and you’ve got to decide whether to run or fight.
It’s like there’s a bear running at you, but it may not actually be a bear. It could actually be shih-tzu, or a Saint Bernard, with a gallon of premium cognac around its neck. You just can’t tell from this distance. And you may or may not be on fire…
And that’s ok.
The danger is that he keeps agonising over the coming melt-down, letting it play out in his head over and over, but not doing anything with that fuel.
He risks flooding his motor.
And that is he just keeps adding more stress upon more stress, but becomes incapable of responding to it, now or ever.
(And I guess the worst-case scenario is that all that undigested stress transmorphs into something worse – like cancer.)
There’s a great book called “The hour between dog and wolf.” It was written by this guy who used to work on a trading floor of a big investment bank.
It was a high-stress workplace. People were taking big gambles with big sums of money.
The thing that interested this guy though was how different people handled it. Some were flattened by it. It took a huge toll on their body. Some developed asthma. Some developed chronic fatigue. It was like they’d been hit by a truck.
Others though thrived with stress. They lived with it and they loved it. Stress was just another part of the game and the game was fun.
This guy’s idea is that the difference between road-kill and the game players was all about how they responded to stress.
The game players took the energy of stress and turned it into action. They did something with it. They were louder, bigger presences in the office. The exercised a lot, often getting into extreme sports. They enjoyed living on the edge.
The road-kill on the other hand were always fighting their stress. They were trying to keep up calm appearances, not let anyone know that the stress was getting to them. They refused to accept the game that they had found themselves in.
And the final stages of a road-kills death spiral was often the same – an total inability to make any decisions.
So this is the question I am asking everyone right now: if current market mischief is making you feel stress, what are you doing about it?
Are you using that stress to fire up your day? Are you turning it into motivation to put in the hard yards and bring your A-game?
Or are you sitting on it, smothering it, trying to pretend that it doesn’t faze you? Hoping it will just be alright?
We’ve all got to find a productive way to deal with stress – to turn fear in to fire. I wish I could tell you that there was a path to serious wealth that didn’t involve risk. But there isn’t.
If you want to play a game where the outcomes are influenced to some degree by what goes on in China or Europe, then you need to be ok with risk. There’s no way around it.
But some level of risk I enjoy. It keeps it interesting. It keeps me engaged and energised. If the results were locked in, I’d probably get bored.
So don’t be afraid of your fear. Let its energy move through. Keep the energy moving. (If that means screaming into a cushion, go for it.) Find whatever works.
Less dog, more wolf.
How do you turn your fear into fire?