Fear, Loathing and Limbic Hijacking #34 #cong21


Where we are going is a not nice, it is not safe; where we’re going isn’t going to be fun. We may have finally realised that the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Face & embrace your fear
  2. Learn how to learn
  3. Make sense and orient yourself
  4. Don’t wait until it’s too late

About Gar Mac Críosta

Dad, Architect, Socio-technologist, Dog owner & Walker, Tinkerer, Connecting People & Ideas, Certain I’m Uncertain that Continuously Curious

Contacting Gar Mac Críosta

You can connect with Gar on LinkedIn.

By Gar Mac Críosta

Litany Against Fear

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Dune, Frank Herbert

Where we are going is a not nice, it is not safe; where we’re going isn’t going to be fun. We may have finally realised that the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure. But soon enough we will forget, we will lapse comfortably, wrapped in the warm blankets of certainty on cushions of prediction. But the blankets are now threadbare and the cushions are empty.

The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

– Socrates

We’ve built a world based on the value of certainty the value of knowledge. The idea that we must know things to have value. Those in leadership positions suffer most from this, the expectation is clear your worth is in your knowledge. And never more so that in the middle of this pandemic.

What happens when we don’t know, when we can’t know, when unexpected events happen and unpredictable circumstances emerge?

We’ve found ways of hiding when things don’t work, enter big transformation programs. When we are stuck we hire some consultants (the bigger the better). We reorganise/transform; the mistakes are consigned to the past. Nearly all of this falls into the Theatre of Knowing. We must appear to know what to do and if in doubt we hire others who must know what to do. The strategies we generate are derivative. As higher primates we have learned how to mimic each other; the mimicry perpetuates the myth that we know. Ideas are constrained onto what fits on a PowerPoint slide (16:9 to give it that widescreen pizzazz), symmetry is important, things are neat and organised. When the deck is ready we are done, we get the satisfaction that comes with completion even though in reality nothing has even started.

We do this mostly because it’s safer and it’s cognitively easier. Dealing with uncertainty is expensive — socially, emotionally, politically and most of all cognitively.

I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.

— Hunter S. Thompson

But how else could it be? The other road is full of uncertainties and uncertainty causes unease & unrest. Fear grows with uncertainty, fear for the future, fear for my position, fear for my status, fear for my safety. It so much easier to wallow in the analgesia of a well crafted PowerPoint deck delivered in a reassuring tone by the loathsome Certainty Merchants. The wise grey heads who seen it all before…..

They seduce us into believing that we live in an ordered world even the unexpected is expected. A whole generation of leaders have been limbically hijacked; they fear the consequences of stepping into the unknown.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

— Hunter S. Thompson

We must develop the ability to smell the wind and orient ourselves, making sense of where we are. We can’t always live in an orderly predictable paradise. We can’t keep selling this to others and we have to stop believing in our and others ability to predict, it’s more dangerous now than ever.

But the truth is that we should embrace the lesson in the Litany Against Fear and face our fear of uncertainty, accept that we don’t know and we can’t know. Be curious, be puzzled, LEARN. We need to (re)learn how to learn. The future we’re going to could be fun but it’s unlikely to be safe.

A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

— Hunter S. Thompson

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