Many of us have been trained to use systems. We use them to be more efficient and productive. There is one system, however, that runs through all areas of our lives that is not helpful but destructive. This system contains very important ingredients (control, dependence, distrust and scarcity) and we find it at work all around us. This system is called FEAR.

Inside of this unconscious system we have made choices that make us who we are: where we work, who we marry, what religion we choose, which political party we side with…The list goes on. In this system we strive to be liked and will do anything to gain the admiration of as many people as we can. Let’s face it, this system is about not having enough and never being able to get it. This is a system of survival.

Below are two real-life examples of the system of fear at work:

An account manager that depends on a handful of customers has just received a call from his largest customer that they are going to be getting other bids this year. Without asking any qualifying questions, the account manager goes into a panic and begins dialing the phone to find out why this is happening. The technicians on the site are interrogated, the manager of the project berated and the customer left behind. Finding that everything is OK with the service delivery, the account manager figures that the customer must be bidding because they are lowering costs. He goes to work on the new  proposal and decides he is going to cut costs no matter what. Remember at this point the customer still has not been called to ask them why are they going out for bids because he is afraid to find out Fast-forward to the delivery of the new contract with a 25% reduction in costs. The customer takes one look at it and says “If you could do the job for this price, why have you been charging me so much for the past 8 years?” Little does the account manager know that the other 3 bids came in 35% higher than the original price. Oh, and the customer went with the company that listened to them and asked them questions.

A franchise owner has a couple of accounts and is pleased with the take-home money. He has purchased a new truck and is proud of what his hard work has produced. He starts his night at about 5:30pm and often runs into his first customer as he begins his cleaning route. This customer is a very busy and demanding person: a stereotypical, hard-driving manager. The franchise owner is quickly learning that this customer has “high expectations”. It starts pretty harmlessly, a simple request to clean the refrigerator out because there was a spill. A week goes by and the manager confronts the franchise owner about cleaning of the refrigerator. The franchise owner insists that he cleaned the refrigerator but the manager persists that it wasn’t done. Franchise owner does it again. Now it is every week and a pattern has started. Next thing are the floors getting scrubbed, the carpets cleaned and the windows done. Fast forward 6 months and the franchise owner is spending 2 hours in a facility that should take 30 minutes.

Why? FEAR is hard at work. The manager knows how to use it and can find the players.

Unfortunately, many of us have been coerced into being a part of this system but it does not need to control our reactions. What are your stories?