There are two major motivators lurking in the hearts of mankind: fear and hope. It may seem easy enough to distinguish between the two. But we are so good at self-deception that we may be lying to ourselves.
Every day, we wake up and there are some coals in our fire. These coals are the motivators that drive our attitude, perspective, and behavior throughout the day.
Whether it is victim mentality, denial, a lack of self-awareness, or any other hosts of avoidance-tactics, we cannot escape the truth: we follow our motivations. That which motivates us drives us.
So, is it fear or hope that drives you? What are the coals over your fire? What is the motivator informing your behavior and attitudes? Here are five ways to distinguish whether you are living a life dominated by hope or by fear.
1) Approach to mistakes
There are two types of cultures we build and operate within: a make-a-mistake culture or a create-something culture.
If you live in a don’t-mess-up mindset, you are likely motivated by fear. If the butterflies in the pit of your stomach are more like spiders, you are probably worried you’ll get fired or broken up with or otherwise reprimanded for failing.
Fear lives in terror of these inevitabilities. Hope sees these inevitabilities as ingredients for making something. If too much of your identity is tied up into not making a mistake, you are likely motivated by fear.
2) Vision or Circumstance
Not unrelated, people who live by hope are driven by a mission. They have a vision for their life they are pursuing. Do you know your vision? Are you spending your day trying to be your true self, serving and loving according to the unique gifts and passions you possess? If so, you are a child of hope.
On the other hand, if you are tossed back and forth by the weight of every circumstance, you may be living with fear as your motivator. In the absence of vision, we are apt to try to control each and every circumstance. We don’t know the forest so we focus on the tree. When the circumstance changes, we do not know how to proceed. We do not know who we are. What matters to us. What is the purpose, the meaning of who we are. This is a scary place to be.
Yet, this is the beginning of hope. But we have to be honest about where we are, what is currently motivating us, before we can progress. If circumstances dictate our day, we are likely living with fear as our primary motivator. The first step is to find a worthy mission, a vision we can pursue. Doing so sets us free.
3) How you think about others
Other people are either an asset or competitors.
If you look at those around you as enemies, obstacles, or causes of your trouble, you are most likely projecting your fear onto them. Victim mentality is the defense mechanism of those who are motivated by fear.
We are created for community. If you see others and their ability to challenge and encourage you as a benefit to pursuing your vision, you are seeded in hope. You’re also likely to understand the value of your ability to influence the world around you. Hope is contagious.