Social Leadership: Power and Potential #3 – Fear

In a couple of weeks time i am guiding two cohorts through a prototype of the new work on ‘Power and Potential’: this is presented as an Enquiry Framework, sixteen guided questions through which to explore the nature and shape of our power.

Having completed the text, i am not working on the illustrations: this work is a rapid prototype, so i’m running with some quite fluid and fast illustrations, all of which are playing on perspective and movement.

This flattened perspective i actually originally composed as a lino print, but i’ve carried it across to the illustration here.

The penultimate question is is one of the four exploring the fragility of out power, and it concerns the things that we fear, because fear itself may act as a brake upon our power. I’ve included the question, and sub questions below.

15. What do you fear?

Fear is a powerful force: it can limit or motivate us, it can empower or silence others.

Fear, like the others Social Currencies, is traded within our communities – gifted or imposed, transient or permanent, and highly contextual.

Fear may act as an amplifier, or brake, upon our power, so to understand what our fears are, and how fear operates upon us, is valuable.

  • What are you afraid of?

At two years old, my son is developing fear: it’s a natural stage in our lives, when we learn to be fearful, of strangers and monsters under the bed, of how others judge us, and of being laughed at if we are wrong.

In some ways, fear is a loss of innocence. And yet fear is not simply a bad or negative thing.

Fear keeps us safe: fear of being burned stops us touching the fire, and fear of being excluded may encourage us to resolve conflict and find common ground.

Fear of being left behind may motivate us to learn, and fear of others being left behind may motivate us to share.

But equally, fear may be used as a weapon: imposed upon others, used to control or influence them. Fear can steal our energy or freedom. It can stifle our imagination.

Fear can motivate us to go further: fear of being ‘ordinary’ or average. Fear of failure may cause us to work late and deliver a great outcome – but equally fear of failure may cause us to work late at the cost of our family life – and at the cost of our family.

The cost of fear may not be born by us directly, bur rather by those who care for us.

Our power may be fragile because of fear: that of ourselves or others.

If we view power as belief, then fear may damage others ability to believe. If we view it as structure, then fear of loss, of position and membership, may cause us to stay silent when we should speak up, for fear of position being taken away from us, or being excluded.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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