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Go Ahead – Worry

“What, me worry?”

Alfred E. Neuman

Alfred E. Neuman is the fictitious mascot and cover boy of the American humor magazine Mad.

The character’s distinct smiling face, parted red hair, gap-tooth smile, freckles, protruding nose, and scrawny body first emerged in U.S. iconography decades before his association with the Mad Magazine.  Originally, Alfred appeared in early twentieth-century advertisements for painless dentistry, which is the origin of his “What, me worry?” slogan.

Go Ahead – Worry

Traditionally, the American business attitude follows the mantra, “Don’t worry about it.” We are survivalists and cowboys with little to fear and nothing to worry about.

Lately, however, many are exploring the idea that actually worrying a little may have some benefits.  Is it possible that thinking through potential disappointments can have some benefits to our business model?

Does Worrying Help

If you think about it, sometimes worrying does help.

It can spur you to become better prepared and mitigate your anxiety in the long run.  Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, is quoted saying.

“If you want to succeed and you worry you might fail, the gap between those realities creates motivation to take action.”

Markman further explains that when you worry, you develop a negative emotion. So the question at that point is whether the rise of the negative emotion creates more negative emotions or does it drive you to further action that mitigates the problem you are worried about.

Worst-Case Scenario

Through worrying, you can bolster yourself by playing out the possible negative outcomes. If it helps you imagine how you’ll survive the worst-case scenario, then thinking through your disappointment will steady the anxiety of anticipation at the moment.

This process usually results in thinking of a “plan B” action that primarily creates positive emotions and reduces worry.

Hopeful and Overconfident

“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Here is where successful business leaders and entrepreneurs distance themselves from the rest of the business world.  These leaders have the capacity to anticipate and plan for setbacks.  But this tactic works best when balanced with positivity and an ability to enjoy and experience the present moment through optimism, mindfulness, and social support.

Being both planful and hopeful can improve wellbeing and make us more resilient if and when the worst-case scenario comes true.  But don’t, however, be overconfident.

Move Forward with Grace

No matter how sad, frustrated, or angry you may feel at the moment, the ability to demonstrate grace under pressure is one of the most admirable qualities a leader can possess.

However, it rarely comes naturally but must be nurtured over time. Therefore, when faced with disappointment, always seek to handle the situation with poise, understanding, and respect.

Most successful businesses are defined by the sum of all of the little decisions and interactions happening each and every day, not by grand strategic moves. This simple truth puts the responsibility on both leaders and teams to make every single moment count.

When faced with disappointment, you can either crumple up in defeat or keep moving forward. Successful people demonstrate true grit and keep moving inch by inch, moment by moment, even in the face of disappointment and setbacks.

The Bible

The idea of embracing worry is a sign of our times.

Anxiety and depression are on the rise in our culture, and there is very little support for relieving these ailments other than prescription medicine.

Fortunately, the Bible is the answer to anxiety and depression.

While there are many verses and stories in both the Old and New Testaments about worry and anxiety, they all have the same underlying theme.

That theme is where our allegiance lie.

            Do we put our trust in God, the omnipotent, omnipresent creator of the universe?  This one who breathed life into us gave us the ability not to choose Him with the plan that if we choose Him, we made that decision of our own accord and thereby are worthy of His Kingdom.


Or do we choose this world, this culture, and this limited life outlook that begins with a small puddle of microbe-infused slime and ends in nothingness?

God gives us the consistency of thousands of years of prophecy and advice that remains true in the past, today, and in the future.  Or do we rely on the outlook of culture that changes yearly, if not daily?

            What, me worry? — Yes!

It’s safe to worry, to think through your disappointments, and to have contingency plans. 

But always take those worries to God and let Him help you sort them out.