THE JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP APPLICATIONS
Vol. 9, No. 10
(626) 350-1500 Ext 102
©2012 William A. Cohen, PhD
“Dare the Impossible – Achieve the Extraordinary.“
Overcoming Fear: 5 Generals Speak
© 2001, 2012 William A. Cohen, PhD
General George S. Patton wrote that: “All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on.” I don’t think anyone would dare call Patton a coward. Yet, this bravest of men says quite clearly that all men are frightened at times. All men or women have fear. It’s what you do with that fear that counts.
In fact, fear can even be positive. That’s General Sherman’s point in stating it is the beginning of wisdom. He said: “Fear is the beginning of wisdom.” We can learn from what has caused the fear and avoid or eliminate a potentially dangerous threat. Fear may also be useful in what it causes us to do. A scene in the movie “The Great Santini” illustrates this point. The Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, played by Robert Duvall who is the protagonist says: “Yes I am afraid. That’s what makes me such a great pilot.”
The famous historian Brigadier General SLA Marshall got his facts right from the troops who fought, on the battlefield, right after the battle. He wrote: “The man afraid wants to do nothing; indeed he does not care even to think of taking action.” General Marshall explains the great danger in fear. It can paralyze us and prevent us from taking essential action.
British General J.F.C. Fuller was once known as the most brilliant officer in the British Army. General Fuller continues this theme: “Fear unhinges the will, and by unhinging the will it paralyses the reason; thoughts are dispersed in all directions in place of being concentrated on one definite aim. . . Whilst moral fear is largely overcome by courage based on reason, physical fear is overcome by courage based on physical means. General Fuller explains that fear paralyzes the reason and prevents the mind from concentrating on the objective. However, Fuller also shows us how to overcome this fear: moral fear by reasoning, and physical fear by taking action.
Finally we have U.S. General Mathew Ridgeway who commanded the 8th Army in the Korean War telling us: “In time of battle, when victory hangs in the balance, it is necessary to put down any sign of weakness, indecision, lack of aggressiveness or panic, whether the man wears stars on his shoulders or chevrons on his sleeve, for one frightened soldier can infect his whole unit. In situations of stress, you cannot permit others to outwardly demonstrate the effects of the very real fear that everyone is probably feeling, because such a demonstration creates panic and can paralyze your entire organization. That’s the time when you must set the example by your own demeanor and if necessary speak the words, or take the actions to help this individual get control.
The wisdom of the generals about fear is:
n Everyone has fear – it is what we do with our fear that counts
n Fear can paralyze us from taking action and prevent us from focusing on the objective – but it can also be overcome through reason and action
n We cannot permit others to demonstrate the effects of fear during time of stress because it causes panic which can spread throughout our organization
Recent Linked Articles by Dr. Cohen not Published in the Journal of Leadership Applications:
The Value of Drucker’s Contributions Today, from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Don’t Buy People from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
There is no such Thing as an Irrational Customer from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Drucker’s Five Deadly Marketing Sins from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Do the Right Thing at the Right Time from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Exploiting Demographic Change in Your Organization from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Drucker’s Billion Dollar Reality Test from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Marketing and Selling May Be Adversarial from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Success by Abandoning Success from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Doing the Right Thing is More Powerful Than You May Think from Human Resources IQ, Customer Management IQ, and Six Sigma Management IQ
Why What You Thought about Heroic Leadership is Probably Wrong from Integral Leadership Review
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THIS MONTH’S THOUGHT FOR LEADERS
And therefore the general who in advancing does not seek personal fame, and in withdrawing is not concerned with avoiding punishment, but whose only purpose is to protect the people and promote the best interests of his sovereign, is the precious jewel of the state.
– Sun Tzu