Choosing Hope. Choosing Fear.
If I want you to follow me - in business, in a social cause, in politics - I have two choices by which I can convince you to join my quest.
One is through fear.
I'll tell you about everything that can go wrong. What you stand to lose. Why your children will suffer. Why following my path will save you from this terrible, negative future.
The other is by offering hope.
A vision of what we can build and what you stand to gain. How the world will be better for our children. Why following my path will tangibly improve the way you live and the experience you will have.
There are times when the first approach is the right one. If I want you to stop smoking or some other activity that will endanger you or others around you, I need you to understand the consequences of your actions. I need you to grasp the real implications of your behavior. I have to sell the downsides, to make it real for you.
(Yes, we have seen people achieve success through the former strategy outside of those situations, but there are typically additional factors at play that they (usually cynically) take advantage of.)
But for most situations, offering hope is always the better strategy.
We function better when we are working towards something, rather than away from something else. We are inspired by positive directions rather than the avoidance of a negative path. We are intrinsically more driven when asked to achieve something than we are when asked to keep from slipping down a slippery path.
In circumstances of hope, our very psychology changes, freeing us, releasing us, pushing us to succeed.
That's why every successful startup is driven by a single, central vision to do something incredible. To change the world in some way. To democratize access to a particular skill, discipline, capability.
Inevitably, any strategy must still deploy some mix of these themes. I need you to understand both sides of the situation. But the question is, where is the emphasis? Where is the focus? Where is the balance?
You need to make this choice in any strategy you are pursuing. Where is the balance going to be?
I know this can be difficult at times. But we owe it to ourselves and others, to try. To keep trying to be positive. To have something uplifting to rally around.
Especially in times like these.