How do you cross the fear gap?
A topic which doesn’t get nearly enough coverage despite its importance.
I first heard this phrase used by Andrew Huberman on his podcast when speaking with Tim Ferriss on how he approaches learning new skills and staying ahead of trends.
This got my old neurons firing all over the place. We all experience the ‘fear gap’. You may not always be conscious of it, but it’s always happening.
It’s the process of when you don’t know enough about something, typically have doomsday-type thoughts about the thing and then eventually have a more balanced outlook once you understand what that thing is.
Or in other words, you’re lack of knowledge leads to an incomplete viewpoint, which for us as humans (not you AI), often makes us fearful.
An on-trend example of this (as I write these words) is generative artificial intelligence.
You’re either in the camp of “Judgement day is coming and we’ll be enslaved by the machines” or “There’s so much opportunity and I can’t wait to join the Matrix”. Our media consumption fuels more of the doomsday because we know, from a psychological perspective, our brains are weird for survival. So we search out the threats before the opportunity.
For us to reach the land of a balanced viewpoint to understand opportunities, not just risks. We have to cross the fear gap.
The 6-step Process to crossing your fear gap
Here are 6 ideas to challenge your assumptions and cross your own fear gap in anything:
1️⃣ Embrace your curiosity
Yes, that thing which most schools try to kill – unleash it. Approach the topic with a beginner’s mind of natural curiosity. Become a detective searching for the what and why of the topic.
2️⃣ Break it down
Don’t go crazy like some conspiracy theorist munching on all the counterculture content they can get. Consider the framework to best improve your knowledge. This could be the what, why and how classic structure.
3️⃣ Research and learn
Gather information from reputable sources (so not your mate Tim who is so far down the TikTok rabbit hole that short videos are life). The big publications and those who actually work in the field of the thing you’re trying to understand are your best bet.
Seek diverse perspectives to gain a holistic understanding. That means the good, bad and ugly. Always be the chess player, not the chess piece.
They say practice makes perfect, right?
With skills, engaging in practical activities related to the skill is going to help you, obviously. With different topics (outside the skill-building realm), it’s wise to experience this thing in whatever form that is.
Ultimately, experiment, apply your knowledge, and learn from your own experiences.
5️⃣ Get the right guidance
Much like with the research and learn section, where you get your information and its quality matter. You could do this by connecting with subject matter experts on the topic. This can be through podcasts, books and articles as covered already, or attending talks and reaching out directly (if they’re not uber famous, of course).
6️⃣ Reflect and adapt
Once you’ve spent a good amount of time on the above, you can make a more well-rounded view of the topic or skill that once filled you with such fear.
Reflect on how you feel now with the knowledge you have gained, what are the differences? What are your beliefs now vs then? Crystalise these in note form so you can capture these in one place.
Congrats, you can now take this new lens into future fear gap situations too.
Before you go… 👋
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