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Opportunities and Threats | #MyFridayStory No. 77

Opportunities and Threats | #MyFridayStory No. 77

I’ve been in a fist-fight, a few times. A few times I also never even threw a punch.

I’m not advocating violence, in fact the opposite. In every case, even when I was completely innocent, I was in the wrong place. The times I deserved a smack, alcohol was involved, and I was in the wrong place. The times I was innocent, although no alcohol was maybe around, I was still in the wrong place. I say, “The wrong place,” not to be philosophical, but practical. Whenever my older brother saw me with a beaten-up face, he would ask, “Where were you?” No matter what my answer, he would retort, “You were in the wrong place.”

I think he meant:

You are in the wrong place, when people are throwing punches.

Being in a fight and being punched in the face causes certain hormones and chemicals to flood through your body. Your whole body is put on high alert, to survive the impending danger.

It’s called the fight or flight response.

This is the body’s response to a real or perceived threat or danger. During this reaction, adrenaline and cortisol are released, speeding up the heart rate, slowing down digestion, shunting massive amounts of blood to major muscle groups, while shutting it down to other ‘non-essential’ areas, and giving the body a burst of energy and strength.

Each time I was in a fight, the moment the response kicked-in, I recall the distinct taste of metal in my mouth. I subsequently noticed that anytime the response is triggered, even after having been frightened, I have that metallic taste for a while afterwards. So, fear or danger are the main drivers of the response.

My theory, is that the taste is due to the chemicals rushing in your veins during a fight or flight situation. The mouth has the perfect environment to support my theory. There are taste buds, saliva and the whole mouth area has immediate access to the recently released hormones, through its fine capillaries.

It’s a theory of ‘one.’

Just over three years ago, I took the decision to leave the corporate world, and go on my own. Over the years since I made that decision, I have never once regretted having made it. In fact, every day since then, has been more blessed than the day before. Does that mean that I haven’t struggled and had challenges? In fact, the opposite is true. It has been one challenge after the other. Every challenge, without fail, brought with it a new opportunity. There was always some form of learning, or a new avenue that opened, or another possibility materialised.

Looking back over the last three years, I can recall having the taste of metal in my mouth a few times. And, for more than 10 years, I have been steering clear of the wrong places. No, it was in response to the fight or flight reflex that kicked in each time there was a new challenge.

What was fascinating and has continued to intrigue me is this; the taste of metal in my mouth returned after I came up with a new way forward. At first, it didn’t make sense to me. How can a feeling of impending doom or fear engulf me, when I have found a solution?

But then it dawned on me.

It’s the fear of success. The fight or flight response had kicked in as soon as I saw a way out. As soon as the plan became clear in my mind, and as soon as the possibility of success was evident.

Why would anyone have a fear of success?

It’s the same as having a fear of failure. Turns out, a fear of success haunts us all at one time or another in our lives. The fear of success is in response to the work you are going to have to put in to achieve success. So being wise to it, we can turn the response into a positive one. I have become familiar with the feeling, and when it happens and can now control how I respond. This has helped me control my fear of danger and fear of success.

Now I recognise them for what they represent – either an opportunity or a threat – and depending on which, I can respond accordingly.

(Feel free to drop me a mail frans@leap1st.com I’d like that.)

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