Fear The Unexpected

When different people from different walks of life start discussing similar ideas, it just might be an idea worth paying attention to.

Edward Teach was infamously known as Blackbeard during the early 18th Century, or the Golden Age of Piracy.

What most people may not know is that he learned a valuable lesson from his mentor, Benjamin Hornigold. Blackbeard learned the importance of establishing a fierce image. He learned about and understood fear.

It has been said that prior to battle, Blackbeard would stick slow-burning cannon fuses under his hat, creating a smoke-filled haze that constantly surrounded his face. It was an effective tactic that intimidated his many victims. Most sailors believed that he was the Devil’s protege.

In the end, he turned out to be just a man who was killed off the coast of North Carolina by the Royal Navy.

Almost 100 years before Blackbeard – around the world in Japan – another man discussed the idea of fear. 

In the Fire Chapter of the Book of Five Rings, Musashi wrote: 

“Fear resides in all things, and the heart of fear is in the unexpected.”

-Miyamoto Musashi

Fear is a double-edged sword. Fear can be motivating. Fear can be paralyzing.

Nowadays in the business world you will hear people talk about the fear of an uncertain future. 

Here is a newsflash. All of life is uncertain. I remember laughing during the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020 when I heard people talk about “these uncertain times.” Let me just say it again, all times are uncertain.

Fear is a powerful emotion. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the unexpected. Fear of not knowing how things are going to turn out.

In real estate and construction, the fear is real. The fear of a budget bust or schedule overrun. The fear of not making a lease. The fear of unexpected deferred maintenance. The fear of personnel turnover. The fear of a lack of talent on your team. The fear of layoffs. The fear of rising interest rates.

Is your fear motivating you to find a better way? 

Is your fear helping you to improve how you attack problems on a day-to-day basis?

Or is your fear holding you back because you know you are cutting corners, taking shortcuts, trying to find the easy way out?

Hard work is scary for a reason. It is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

Talk about scary – Musashi started his career as a swordsman at the ripe old age of 13. He remained undefeated in 60 matches across decades of fighting.

So when you are thinking about your fears, think about your ancestors and all that they survived to get you to this point.

Think about the centuries of human adaptability. Think about what you are doing now to overcome your fear, and make sure you are prepared.

What is my greatest fear? 

That I do not live up to my potential. That I let those down who came before me. That I let those down who depend on me now. That I don’t do enough to make a difference in my small little world. 

Use your fear to drive you to be better.

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