Read time: 6 minutes
The most accurate metric for measuring intelligence is not IQ.
You either behave intelligently or you don't.
How “smart” you are is irrelevant if you act stupidly.
So what is the X factor here? What is the variable—the nexus point behind people’s unintelligent decisions?
It's obvious, isn’t it?
In one form or another.
Everybody dies, but fear keeps people from living.
The two most common types of fear that people suffer from are:
Fear of death is, at best, a distant third.
Fear of poverty is the most destructive fear known to man and the most difficult fear to master.
There's one primary difference between fear of poverty and fear of criticism. Admission. A person who fears criticism typically admits it. Someone who fears poverty doesn’t. Often not even to themselves.
The ramifications are astounding.
Fear of poverty is a silent assassin. Its victims suffer in silence for decades, unaware of the stranglehold they’re in. As the hit nears completion, the target looks back at his life. He remembers his dreams. He wonders what could have been had he actually pursued them.
He doesn't regret what he's done, but rather that which he never attempted.
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Napoleon Hill discusses fear at length in his book, Think and Grow Rich. He hones in on fear of poverty in particular.
"Fear of poverty is sufficient to destroy one’s chances of achievement in any undertaking. This fear paralyzes the faculty of reason, destroys the faculty of imagination, kills off self-reliance, undermines enthusiasm, discourages initiative, leads to uncertainty of purpose, encourages procrastination, wipes out enthusiasm and makes self-control an impossibility. It takes the charm from one’s personality, destroys the possibility of accurate thinking, diverts concentration of effort; it masters persistence, turns willpower into nothingness, destroys ambition, beclouds the memory and invites failure in every conceivable form; it kills love and assassinates the finer emotions of the heart, discourages friendship and invites disaster in a hundred forms, leads to sleeplessness, misery and unhappiness–and all this despite the obvious truth that we live in a society of overabundance of everything the heart could desire, with nothing standing between us and our desires, except lack of a definite purpose."
Did you notice that was only two sentences long?
I used to have an unhealthy attitude about money. For a long time, I clung to the erroneous belief that money was evil. That it was bad and unimportant.
I grew up poor. My parents were afraid of poverty. Their fear inevitably rubbed off on me. I developed a poverty consciousness, and it took me a long time to overcome it. Longer than I’d like to admit.
Money is not sentient, so it can’t be evil. It’s a tool, and like a hammer, it can help or hurt. Build or destroy. It’s not bad, and it is important. Very important. I was wrong.
But I’m not here to talk about money or why I don't hate it.
I'm digging at the root of human suffering.
“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
People admit their fear of criticism more easily than their fear of poverty. But that doesn't make it any less detrimental.
Fear of criticism stifles your authenticity and denies you individuality. It keeps you from taking risks and prevents you from acting on good ideas.
"Playing it safe" is one of life's major ironies. It's actually a lot riskier than taking risks. Personal evolution is at risk when safety is the default choice.
The safer path, thus, is the risky one. For every reason. By taking risks, you build self-confidence and develop self-reliance. Life becomes an adventure instead of a monotonous, predictable hum.
People tend to avoid risk because they don’t want to fail. And, or, they don’t want criticism from their peers.
Failure is information. It’s data. Failure is nothing more than an obstacle, a bump in the road of life. It shows you where you went wrong or where something didn’t go as planned. It’s a failed hypothesis. Or it’s the result of a lack of one. Every failure is a learning opportunity. If you cower and quit in the face of failure, you learn nothing. And if you live your life avoiding failure, you’ll never test the limits of what’s possible for you. Or what you’re capable of.
Fear of criticism plays a major role in risk avoidance. We’re afraid of what people will think or say if we don’t do and say what they expect of us.
It’s an easily justifiable fear because it’s accurate. You can’t please everyone. And not everyone likes you. It doesn’t matter how virtuous, kind, or compassionate you are. There are always haters. It is what it is.
“Consider what your bondage is in the world. What do you suffer to keep the esteem of men you dislike?” - François Fénelon
When you stick your neck out, criticism comes knocking. When you swing for the fences, you get hit with judgment and ridicule.
Who are the worst offenders? Your family. They tend to be the most vicious and opinionated of all. They know best what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
The internet, social media, and “commenting” have taken this to a whole new level.
The internet is incredible. Social media is a terrific tool. But online discourse brings out the worst in people.
Because it lacks empathy. If you say something insulting to a person’s face, you’re forced to feel it in the moment. You experience the effect of what you said immediately. People say things to each other online that they would never say out loud.
Take YouTube, for example. First, worth noting, every video on YouTube has dislikes. No matter the subject matter or how innocent the content is, there’s a percentage of people who don’t like it. Further, there’s usually at least a handful of comments ripping the video apart. The video can be something as innocuous as someone teaching you how to shovel snow out of a driveway. I can almost guarantee there’s at least one person in the comments reaming the shoveler.
I’ve been putting content online since 2012, so I’ve been experiencing this firsthand for over a decade. Here’s a charming recent example:
Comments like this don’t feel good, and I’m pretty sure that’s the intention. Do they hurt my feelings? Sometimes. Are they going to stop me from creating? Of course not.
For what it's worth, if you can handle negative comments like the one above, you have what it takes to put yourself out there online.
We humans are a strange breed. We fear criticism coming in, but we don’t hesitate to dish it out. Especially when the receiving party can’t see or hear us.
When you criticize someone, you are essentially just patting yourself on the back.
The high road is always the best road.
The only person’s opinion of you that matters is yours. But not current you, future you. Rocking chair you. Think about him when you're making or not making decisions.
I recognize that an extraordinary life is not for everyone. Some prefer simplicity. I respect that. As long as it's an honest decision and not a justification.
High-IQ people are often their own worst enemies because of their brilliance. They overthink. They identify with terrifying clarity all the ways in which a risky decision can go wrong. So they resign to playing safe.
Don't make this mistake.
"Leap and the net will appear."
If you fear criticism, here's food for thought. The number one regret of people on their deathbed is this:
"I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
Transmute fear into faith.
Believe in yourself and release your soul from bondage.
Until next time.
PS: Let's get you out of fear and back into your power.
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