Fear of Loss

Fear of Loss by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

Losing something you already have, is a STRONG motivator. … Have you ever observed that people hate to lose something? In fact, losing something can often be a stronger motivator than gaining something. You might have heard the expression, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

Gaining something in the future has a degree of RISK associated with it. Holding something in your hand is NOW. The only risk with something you already have is losing it. When it comes to behavioral consequences, the strength, timing, and risk of the consequences are all critical to their influence on our behavior.

While there is an interaction between these factors that can be complicated, today I’m going to simplify the equation and simply talk about risk and the potential pitfalls of extreme risk-avoidance.

The loss some people fear is the status quo they’re “enjoying at the moment.” They get so comfortable with their current situation, they lack the discipline, drive, or interest to do something new. To have an adventure. To get up off the sofa. To get out of the house. To meet someone knew. To try something different.

A friend of mine wanted to attend a top university in another part of the country, but he didn’t want to leave his family. … A colleague wanted to go to graduate school while working but didn’t want to give up his golf game. … A neighbor wanted to be promoted but didn’t want to travel internationally because it was “unsafe.” … Another friend wanted to change churches but was afraid he wouldn’t find one liked. … An associate wouldn’t invest any of his money because he was afraid of losing it.

I could go on and on with stories. You could too. We all know of people who have been scared, afraid, or timid when it comes to trying something new. Something that has risk associated with it. They’re afraid of failure. They’re afraid of losing what they have already.

While I would never tell someone to “risk it all” foolishly or take uncalculated risk, there is a time to try new things. To take a risk. To stretch. To grow. Sometimes there is loss. Sometimes the path to the highest heights requires minor losses along the way. Risk it all? No. Risk some? Yes.

Think about great leaders of today and yesterday. Leaders in business, in the church, in academia, in the military, in sports, in the arts. How many of the great leaders, those who truly made a difference, took risks? How many had to overcome the fear of loss or overcome the fear of losing the comforts of the present in order to move forward? To achieve? To gain new heights?

Sometimes growth comes by going forward a few steps and back one. Then repeating. Learning along the way.

The Grand Canyon is an amazing place. Pictures don’t tell the full story. … A few years ago, a “Skywalk” was built that extends out over the canyon wall. The floor is “glass” and you can see a LONG way to the bottom of the canyon. If you want to experience this view, you have to take a calculated risk. You have to step out onto the glass. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with a break-taking experience.

Reward and growth almost always require a degree of risk. Are you willing to take it? Are you willing to try new things? To let go of the status quo? To take a step of faith?

What are you gripping that is holding you back? Are you willing to take calculated risks in order to grow?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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