How To Differentiate Between Good Fear & Bad Fear

“There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear.” ~ George Patton

I’ve always believed that fear is like a double-edged sword.  A little bit is a good thing; we stay away from the edge of the cliff and that keeps us safe.

Conversely, too much is a bad thing;  it can cripple us, preventing new experiences and growth.

The trick is knowing the difference and understanding when fear is appropriate and when it’s debilitating.

Thanks to the almond-shaped amygdala nestled deep in the temporal lobe of the brain, our body generates fear quickly in reaction to external stimuli. The “fight or flight” response kicks in and directs us to either stay and fight the thing that scares us or run away from it. This physiological reaction is due to a tangible threat: a snake, a bear, an intruder wielding a gun, etc.

At the other end of the spectrum is fear that results from imagined threats. Yes, if we quit our mundane job to pursue our passion we might not make as much money. If we move to another city we may not be happy. If we ask for a raise we might not get it. So, because something bad might happen, we never venture outside our comfort zone.

Some risks in life are worth taking if we want to grow. Author Susan Jeffers discusses this in her best-selling book  Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.

Changes are often needed to improve our lives, but change is scary.

People in abusive relationships will stay in an unhealthy relationship and not leave their abusers. In spite of the potential for violence, these people cling to what is familiar and not face the fear of the unknown.

I credit fear with making sure I use a seatbelt, drive defensively, brush my teeth, pay my bills, etc. Fear kept me out of the deep water until I learned to swim. Fear guides me away from those things that I know can be dangerous and threaten my survival.

However, I’ve also allowed fear to paralyze me when changes were needed to improve my life.

“Throwing caution to the wind” is something I’ve learned to do over the past ten years when the circumstances called for it. I’ve made many major changes in my life and there have been great improvements because of it.

Each of those changes caused a certain amount of fear. Understanding which type of fear and whether it’s reasonable for a given situation helps in determining what the next step should be if any.

“Fear is the father of courage and the mother of safety.” ~ Henry H. Tweedy

Keeping that double-edged sword close at hand is advisable; knowing how and when to use it is imperative. If you don’t believe me, just ask General Patton!

3 Important Reasons Not To Be “Siloed”










You remember the silo, right?

Those tall cylindrical structures you’d see on a farm, sometimes standing next to the barn.

As a kid, I remember drawing pictures of farms and always including the silo. We learned that grain was kept there and I thought it was pretty cool; so tall and skinny. Until a classmate talked about what would happen if you fell in one. 

Childrens' drawing of red barn & siloThe thought scared me. It seemed like the equivalent of falling in a well, only you wouldn’t be underground. Still, it could be a long drop (depending on how much grain was in there) and it would be really dark.

But, like so many other words, silo has taken on a new definition. I was unaware of this until reading an article last week where the author talked about a group of people being “siloed.”

I immediately opened a new tab and searched for the word. The cylindrical structure definition was there, along with several variations of the new one, which read:

silo/siloed – to isolate (one system, process, or department) from others.

It’s a business term and refers to how an organization is structured. 

Then I noticed silo mentality which refers to a mindset that occurs when certain departments don’t wish to share information with others in the same company.

I found this surprising because that attitude would certainly create problems within an organization. And, just as expected, it’s been determined that the silo mentality produces some negative effects. Below are the three reasons we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be siloed or to silo someone else.

Reason #1

The silo mentality can reduce the efficiency of the overall operation. Anytime communication breaks down there are bound to be problems. Whether it’s a corporation or a household, strong connections between the various members are vital to success.

Reason #2

Another ill effect is that morale goes downhill. People don’t appreciate being left in the dark. If it’s intentional that makes it even worse. When efficiency goes down  (See #1) everyone suffers.

Reason #3

If Reasons 1 & 2 go unchecked then the demise of a productive company culture is likely to occur. 

Imagine if this were a household where multiple family members stopped communicating:

  • Mom forgot to tell Dad that she needs him to pick up the kids from a soccer scrimmage because she has a hair appointment.
  • Dad forgets to tell Mom that he has a business dinner that evening.
  • The kids forget to tell their parents that the scrimmage was rescheduled at the competitor’s field.
  • Neither parent can pick up the kids, so they call Grandma at the last-minute. She rushes to the school only to find an empty field.


It doesn’t take long for systems to break down when people don’t share information. What would happen to society and all the organizations within it?

And what if governments operated this way? 

Why would anyone deliberately isolate themselves against other members of the same group?  Doesn’t this go against the concept of teamwork, a term borrowed from sports that became widely popular in business?

We see these situations with children and young people when they deliberately exclude other youngsters from their social activities.

I see this as a form of passive bullying. Remember all the siloing that went on in school? I hated when this happened to classmates and tried to reach out and be extra nice to those kids being targeted.

Sadly, it occurs with adults, as well. 

Don’t we have enough walls and barriers in our world?

The thought of falling into a silo still scares me. Being isolated from others and kept in the dark, whether literally or figuratively, doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.

I believe there’s strength in numbers, which is why I’ll stick with the barn. It’s big enough for everyone!