Is Fear Running Your Business? Good!

Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. (SWOT)

For over 6 decades, SWOT has been the go-to standard most businesses have utilized for annual planning.

But with all due respect to SWOT creator Albert Humphrey, every time I now use SWOT to assess what is and isn’t working in my business, I found that my “weaknesses” also ended up in “opportunities” while my “strengths” sometimes landed in my “threats.”

Cloudy say what?

You have to tip your cap to Humphrey because nothing has come close in the last 60 years to knocking SWOT off its pedestal. When I started writing my book Return On Courage, I assure you the last thing I thought I would craft was a better way to SWOT.

Coming out the other side, I found a new type of strainer that any organization could count on to run different facets of their business though—and it might even surprise you to learn where I landed when it came to that filter:


There’s a famous proverb that fear and courage are brothers.
You can’t get to the courageous move without first channeling it through fear.

Of course, many of us at work suppress fear vs address fear. When we turn our cheek on business fears, hoping they won’t become true threats to our businesses livelihood, we’re putting ourselves in grave danger (pun fully intended). The hospitality business didn’t take Airbnb seriously and, well, Airbnb is now the world’s biggest accommodation site on the planet.

Before we allow our emotions get the best of us, I’d like to pose an unemotional look at how fear could be the greatest tool to proactively help you put a plan together.

One of my favorite interviews for “Return On Courage” was with Virgin Galactic Astronaut, Loretta Hidalgo. Loretta shared, “Fear is just a piece of information. It’s evolutionary, created to protect you. Fear is not trying to hurt you.”

As a guy that spent 1000 days deconstructing “courage,” I’m not a fan of the word fearless. I prefer we fear MORE.

That means getting intimate with those diverse business fears that could make your company irrelevant.

When was the last time you audited what could take your entire vertical down (industry fear)? Where could your product simply be stronger (product fear)? Is your message and story not as sticky as you hoped for (perception fear)? And, do you worry that you can’t speak freely because perhaps you’re part of a watch-your-back culture vs a got-your-back culture (personal fears)?

Part of my hope for my new book “Return On Courage” is to help corporate leaders proactively smoke out and address their business fears so they can put a plan together to shrink them down vs, the alternative, which is having them take YOU down.

Remember, 52% of the Fortune 500 are now extinct. That number is expected to hold. 9000 brands are forecasted to revolve on and off the Fortune 500 over the next 6 decades.

As a Seinfeld fan, I’ll admit I enjoy being able to say I’m in the fear shrinkage business.
Now is the time to make fear your friend. The businesses that win shrink fear. They turn ‘there’s no time like the present’ into ‘there’s no time but the present.’

Being proactive, putting together a calculated plan and then taking action on that strategy is the difference between being a stasis Coward Brand and a thriving, calculated Courage Brand.

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