One of my favorite phrases is “no worries.” It is important to clarify that “no worries” does not at all equate to “I don’t care” (one of my least favorite sayings).  The difference between worry and care, in this dude’s humble opinion, comes down to their emotional locust or origin.  I would argue that worry is a response driven by fear, while care comes from passion or love.  For example, I care about my job because it is something that I enjoy doing (and I also really enjoy getting a pay check that allows me to have a house, eat good food and buy the occasional gizmo).  I do not, however, worry about my job.

Ultimately, fear and worry are usually the product of either not having control over a situation, taking a risk, or letting things slip.

The first case, not having control, is the most understandable to me.  I used to have a serious fear of flying, primarily because I felt completely helpless while up in the air.  No matter how much I cared about staying alive, the only things keeping the plane I was riding on from crashing into the ocean was the skill of the pilots and the mechanical soundness of the aircraft.

This lack of control caused me to worry and stress, every sound, shake or tilt caused me to close my eyes and grip on to my arm rests preparing for a plunge.  Over time however, I realized that how I felt really had no impact on whether or not the plane stayed in the air.  My worrying however did have a serious effect on me and caused me to be miserable the entire trip.  Learning to embrace (or at least accept) this lack of control was not easy (I still need a few drinks to completely relax on an airplane), but ultimately something that I needed to do.

Fear that comes from taking a risk is avoidable if one accepts that failure is possible, perhaps even likely.  Risk is necessary and even though learning to make good bets can allow one to avoid a good deal of pitfalls, at some point, no matter how good you are, you will fall flat on your face.  Understanding this is critical in any endeavor and there are certainly strategies to limit the impact of failures.

A former boss once promoted the credo “fail fast”.  The idea was to minimize the effects of failed projects by gradually increasing their scopes, testing and modifying as needed along the way.  Following this approach, we might have a series of small failures, but would learn from these mistakes and adjust, reducing the risk that the end project would result in failure.  This concept of failing fast has an application beyond the realm of technology projects and can go along way in minimizing the fear associated with risk taking.

The final source of fear, letting things slip, is actually a fear caused by guilt and later by a feeling of lack of control. If you missed a deadline or have been ignoring a problem, you feel guilty because you know that you have been done something “wrong.” This guilt slowly evolves into fear as one starts to ponder potential results (real or imaginary) of their neglect.  If a problem is ignored long enough, the feeling of lack of control may also come into play.

While certainly not a silver bullet, the way I have found to avoid this kind of fear is to attack anything that I am worrying about immediately as the worry enters my mind.  If I have let a deadline slip, I don’t spend my day worrying about whether my boss will call me out.  I try to own the situation by either getting what ever needs to happen done or approaching my boss to inform him or her proactively.  Not only have I found that most employers appreciate this approach, but it also allows me to avoid unnecessary worry.

So in short, no worries.  Like all strategies and attempts to explain the complexities of living a happy life, the thoughts above are the by-products of my limited experience and time being a human being.  Believe it if you need it; if you don’t, just pass it on.