In the 1950s, former Boston Red Sox Centerfielder Jimmy Piersall wrote a popular book called Fear Strikes Out....
In it, Piersall chronicles his struggles against personal demons that threatened his sanity. Piersall's book succeeds in being both a book of hope and of the deadly dangers fear presents. In it, fear strikes out and Piersall overcomes.
But what would have been the book's title had fear hit a home run, had fear won? I suggest Fear Strikes Us Out as one possibility.
Few careers present as many fears as do marketing, sales and communications. But all careers present challenges that allow demons to get under our skins and into our souls. Since I know marketing and communications, I use them to demonstrate the dangers to our very lives that fear represents. If fear wins, we can lose our jobs, lose our careers, lose hope and lose our ability to meet our most basic needs.
Fear throws more than a few curve balls our way. Any one of them can strike us out. They come in various forms and frequently lead to a downward cycle of failure. Here is one scenario that fear presents:
1. CEOs, CFOs and clients often have little understanding of what we do, leading to a lack of faith in our ability to contribute much to the bottom line. We are seen as a necessary drain on the top line.
2. Because of number 1, we may limit our efforts to traditional, conservative and safe actions.
3. Because of number 2, our efforts seldom exceed expectations.
4. Because of number 3, CEOs, CFOs and client suspicions are confirmed.
5. Because of number 4, marketing budgets are among the first to be cut.
6. Because of number 5, job security and income are constantly threatened.
7. To prevent numbers 5 and 6, we continue to repeat the cycle, thinking that we can play it safe and keep our heads just above the water line.
In the above scenario, fear strikes us out. But what happens if we recognize the dangers of fear, recognize when fear is driving our actions, and instead of looking for a walk, we see the pitch and we hit it out of the park? What happens when we control fear instead of letting it control us? The scenario might instead look like this?
1. CEOs, CFOs and clients often have little understanding of what we do, leading to a lack of faith in our ability to contribute much to the bottom line.
2. Because of number 1, we commit ourselves to creating an understanding of how marketing and communications (plus sales) represent the greatest potential for increasing the bottom line, but more important, marginal growth.
3. Because of number 2, we confidently and assertively seek a seat at the planning and budget tables and reach out to clients to help them understand why outsourcing to consultants is not only a good idea but a necessary strategy.
4. Because of number 3, CEOs, CFOs and clients agree to let us show them what we can do.
5. Because of number 4, marketing budgets are not cut.
6. Because of number 5, we present an integrated strategic marketing plan with a mix of traditional and innovative tactics. We take calculated risks, we lead and manage the plan, we deliver and we exceed expectations.
7. Because of number 6, we help businesses grow.
8. Because of number 7, we maintain a seat at the table and client growth rises.
The first scenario represents planning driven by fear, the second represents planning that recognizes and accepts fear but refuses to allow fear to drive either our motive or the planning. We trust that we are the experts, and present a winning philosophy and plan.
The truth is that in either scenario, fear exists and it threatens our livelihoods. And even in the second scenario, job security is non-existent. However, in the second scenario we control our destinies and we likely will deliver better return on investment. Isn't that the way it should be? Whether we work in the corporate world or for ourselves, shouldn't we be the master of our fate?
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