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Little Find

Let it go!

A 40-year-old social psychology theory about our reactions to fear sheds light on today’s Covid-19 crisis – and how these natural reactions may impede us from mastering future challenges.

Humans respond in three ways to our mortality, according to terror management theory. We seek comfort from our loved ones, we seek to boost our self-esteem, and we try to bolster our worldview. These reactions are very human, and yet they bind us to the status quo. They weigh us down when we need to question our beliefs, broaden our field of vision and action, and imagine new opportunities by letting go of old habits, ways of thinking, and status symbols. 

For example, new opportunities rarely come from those we are closest to but from “weak ties”: casual friends or business acquaintances. We need to rediscover and cultivate the weak ties that we lost sight of during the crisis. They force us to redefine our role in a new environment. Similarly, seeking to bolster our self-esteem and standing by our convictions stifle creativity, limiting our field of action in order to defend our vision of the world rather than enrich it with that of others. 

Agility and big changes start with a small change: becoming aware of our self-limitations. Overcoming anxiety, without denying it, is the first step in shaping the future. 

To go further

Terrorized by a virus? Time for a mental shift

by Mathis Schulte (Knowledge@HEC, July 2020). 

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Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.