I want to share you something I bumped into as I was listening the awesome book “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever”. A great abbreviation “TERA” was mentioned, which contains the source of our primal fears that guide all of our actions.
“run, fight or die” mode prevents higher level of thinking
To try to put it in short: in fMRI scans scientists have found that our brain asks 5 times per second if there is something to be afraid. And IF there is, we enter into “run, fight or die” mode that prevents higher level of thinking and tapping into the collective wisdom the situation might hold. In the state of primal fear, our world is black and white and filled with adrenaline. That is something we might be able to use as advantage in certain situations, like public speaking or a bar fight, but not in a daily life of a high efficiency expert organization.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”Mark Twain
The abbreviation TERA comes from the words Tribe, Expectation, Rank and Autonomy. The following summaries are my own interpretations and the official explanations may vary. But these I find simple enough to remember and easy enough to understand.
Do you feel yourself as a member of the group or do you feel as an outsider? Being an outsider is usually not an enjoyable state of mind, because from evolutionary perspective an outsider presented threat. *
Do you know what is coming next, or are you afraid of surprises? In the past surprises could mean danger and that is the reason why we subconsciously are terrified of possible unexpected events. That is why routines, plans, to-do lists, agendas, road-maps and written strategies make us feel more secure.
Humans are very hierarchical mammals and have highly developed sense of estimating who is the leader and so to be respected. Luckily these days the leader does not usually attack you physically – at least in the western business world – but weak leaders might do it verbally when feeling threatened. That leads us to the autonomy…
Due to the hierarchical nature of our species we are super cautious when there is someone ranked above us in a situation. Especially if he or she has a reputation of having a big ego and a tendency to punish those who do not agree with him/her. We ponder our words carefully and speak only if there is no imminent threat. Some brave souls are so self-confident that they might have guts to open their mouth even if there is a possibility of humiliation or confrontation. That happens usually in one of the following cases:
- The individual feels that the leader is weaker than him or herself.
- The individual is equipped with shitloads of testosterone (boosts self confidence I.e. why young males are often those who are not afraid of positional leaders).
- The individual is facing a situation where their values are threatened and they are willing to die because of them – even though metaphorically.
To sum this post
- Fear is something that should not be present in any organization.
- Learn to know people your work with, that generates the feeling of being in the same tribe.
- Make agendas for meetings and road-maps and strategies for organizations.
- Egoistic people – and especially leaders – are always bottlenecks in organizational growth and big-time success and should be either educated or let go if they fail to see their bad behavior.
- By subscribing to Ever Better Leadership Blog you will gain the necessary information on how to make your organization thrive by removing primal fears to the degree it is possible:
THE ONE EXCEPTION WORTH MENTIONING
There is one special type of people who do not follow the normal rules: narcissists. They are beyond the help of mortal men and should be left to be dealt by HR-department or mental health care professionals. In these rare cases I strongly recommend to relocate as far away as possible. Luckily only around 1% of population have narcissists personality disorder. Although there are some recent articles that indicate that narcissistic behavior has risen during the birth of social media.
* For more information about neuromarketing you can read the awesome Brainfluence. It is filled with great neuromarketing insights.
Disclaimer: this article is a mixture of content from The Coaching Habit as well as my own research and reasoning. The text should not be considered as a psychological playbook of any kind, but rather as a simplified tool to understand how human brain is working in situations where primal fears are involved.