I recently heard a senior executive of a major multinational company say that what we need is a “fear inspired event” to mobilize action. He cited the Soviet Union’s launching of the Sputnik satellite and the United States’ reaction that led to the formation of NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the entry into the “space race.”
Ironically this inspiration of fear also led to one of the most cited speeches of vision and passion that is often referenced in leadership education programs: President John F. Kennedy’s “Moon Speech” in September of 1962, in which he committed the USA to “send a man to the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the decade.”
JFK’s speech had all the hallmarks of a Creator, setting an impassioned vision and intention for a specific outcome.
At first I was appalled at the executive’s assertion of the need for fear as inspiration. The more I sat with his perspective, the more I had to accept the reality that, many times, the emergence of a Challenger, and the fear of anxiety it may engage, can be an important spark for creative action.
The Challenger may be a person, situation (such as a natural disaster) or a condition (e.g. a health challenge). One such Challenger for me was the original diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. Just the word “diabetes” engendered fearful visions of failing health.
The major difference between a Victim and a Creator is how they respond to a Challenger.
Instead of fanning the flames of fear in the country, JFK put forward a bold vision as a Creator by focusing on what he wanted to create, rather on reacting to the “problem” of the Soviets having successfully launched Sputnik.
After many years of reacting to diabetes, I eventually was able to shift my focus to creating health in my life – which led to applying the TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™ frameworks to health empowerment and the publication of TED* for Diabetes: A Health Empowerment Story, co-authored with Scott Conard, MD.
While we usually associate the word “inspire” with positive, motivational and evocative calls to action, we can welcome the Challengers in our life that bring opportunities to choose empowered and empowering responses.
To the Creator in you!