HomeWorkplaceOn fear and anger


In this month’s column, DR. ICHAK ADIZES explores the two emotions of fear and anger, and how they color our experiences in life. He shares his own mantra for working with these emotions so that life becomes more purposeful and joyful.

How did it happen that the prophet Daniel walked into the lion’s cage and the lion didn’t do anything to him? Did God do something to the lion so that the lion did not attack, or was it Daniel who did something so that the lion did not attack?

My insight: Daniel believed in God with all his soul, and trusted that God would protect him. There was no signed agreement between God and Daniel that God would do that. Daniel simply trusted God. Because he trusted God, he felt no fear, and when you feel no fear you do not project that you might attack proactively to defend yourself. If you do not project aggression, there is no need for the other party, in this case the lion, to attack you proactively in its defense.

I learned this taking a walking safari in Africa many years ago. We walked through the reserve without guns, without any protection. I admit I was scared; we might be attacked. There were lions, there were many wild animals left and right. The guide calmed us down, telling us that every animal has a perimeter within which that animal feels secure, and as long as you do not cross that boundary, they leave you alone. If you don’t threaten them, they will not threaten you.

I took it with a grain of salt, because if an animal like a lion is hungry, its radius is probably much bigger. The fact, however, is that we walked that safari for days and nothing dangerous happened. When you feel confident, have no fear, it vibrates, and those that could feel threatened by you, have confidence that you’re safe and they do not need to attack you proactively.

This has applications for personal life and married life. Something happens and one of the partners in the marriage feels that maybe they are not loved. Maybe it happened because the spouse raised their voice or did not show attention, or whatever. Now, the one that feels that way has a fear: I am not loved. I’m not appreciated. I’m being ignored. The fear activates an attack. It will show in their negative attitude, in their tone of voice, and now what happens? The other person feels attacked and develops his or her own fears of not being loved. Because of the fears, they attack in return. And what happens now? Escalation. Bigger attacks yield bigger fears, that provoke even bigger attacks, that provoke bigger and bigger attacks and fears and the result could be appearance in court for a divorce or a separation.


My mantra:

Speak without offending, Listen without defending, Love without depending, and Live without pretending.

Speak without offending:

If you’re offending, it is because you are scared. You’re scared of losing an argument. Or, you might be scared of not being heard, not being appreciated, you fear that your feelings or ideas are not given the weight they deserve. It could be generated by past experiences which have nothing to do with the present situation, but “past music” in your head does interfere with the present music you hear now.

Listen without defending:

Why are you defending? Fear again. Fear that you might lose an argument, and if you lose an argument its proves that you’re not as smart as you would like to project yourself to be; or, again, you perceive you are not being listened to, or being dismissed. Fears. Fears. Fears.

Eliminate fears. Eliminate expectations. Trust God, or, if you are an atheist, trust yourself.

Love without depending:

Once you depend on other people giving you love, you’re living in fear that they might leave, and that’s painful. Now what happens? You fight in order not to lose the love that you so much depend on, and as you fight you might be suffocating the other person. You might be limiting the other person to love you of their own volition. Your expectations, your demands, turn them into suppliers of love, whether they want it or not. They might resent it and there we go into fears and anger that destroy relationships.


Live without pretending:

Why are you pretending? Fear. Fear that you’re not good enough, and you have to wear make-up to look more beautiful than you really are naturally.

Eliminate fears. Eliminate expectations. Trust God, or, if you are an atheist, trust yourself. Be calm, and you can walk into a hostile meeting and survive like the prophet Daniel did.

Just thinking and feeling, Dr. Ichak Adizes



Dr. Ichak Adizes

Dr. Ichak Adizes

Dr. Ichak Adizes is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading management experts. He has received 21 honorary doctorates and is the author of 27 books that have been translated into 36 languages. Dr. Adizes is recognized by Leadersh... Read More