In the story of Chicken Little, an acorn falls on her head, but she decides the sky is falling. A duck and a hen, persuaded by her fear-based conviction, join the brigade to report it. Along the way they meet a fox who takes advantage of their fear and lures the three into his den.
Ransomware. Terrorists. Cancer. Burglars. Your ex. Your job. Acorns fall on our heads. Some of them hurt, a lot. It’s smart to protect ourselves against probable hazards. But it’s just not possible, nor prudent, to try to protect against them all. At some point in our quest for protection, we cross the line from prudent self-interest to fear-based decisionmaking. At that moment, ironically, we become even more vulnerable.
To protect her from acorns, all Chicken Little needed was the right hat. Because of her fear and desperation to feel safe, though, she suspended her better judgment. After all, why would a little chicken even speak to a fox in the first place, much less follow one wherever he suggests she go? If the story was a financial metaphor, an unethical insurance agent would have sold her a nice fat policy for falling skies.
Perhaps this issue resonates with me because I have had Chicken Little-like episodes in my past. Times I panicked for no reason. Times I felt F.E.A.R.: False Evidence Appearing Real. Times, as a result, that I followed a fox, or two. Nowadays, when I am asked a sky-is-falling question, (For example, “I’m 63 years old – will Social Security be there for me?” or “How can I guarantee 100% I won’t have my identity stolen?”), I listen. I ask about the fear. And try to find the right hat.
Have you ever encountered a fox who knew your fears? Or caught yourself before you followed one? How do you respond to the Chicken Little’s in your life? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org