So you are worried about something. You are frequently worried about something.  But whatever worries you changes from day to day. Well, here is a post about worrying, worrying as an activity, about what’s good and bad about worrying.

As negative as it sounds, worrying itself is not negative.  Being worried can make us better off.  When we are worried our intellect sharpens, worries make us focus on problems, confront issues, win battles and move on with life. As an entrepreneur who over the course of 25 years founded four startups worth over half a billion and blew up one, I was never worry free.  Indeed my start ups always felt to me as a string of endless worries, of failures, that somehow miraculously one day, were highly valuable.  In all of them I had near death experiences.  In all of them, thanks to worrying, I found ways out of them. Because worrying as in “I have identified a problem” is a positive trait.  Worrying as in “I am deciding on the best strategy to cope with adversity” is a positive trait. But many times we worry about issues in life that truly don’t deserve our focus, that are not real problems we should worry about.  That are not true challenges. That are bogus.

That is why some people are more “worriers” than “warriors”. And indeed there is medical evidence for this, genetic evidence.   Research shows that some genes code for worrying behaviors (worriers) while others for learning from adversity (warriors). Warriors see challenges as learning opportunities.  Worriers on the other hand don’t fight true problems– they lie in the battlefield of their mind, waiting for an enemy who doesn’t show up.  And instead of rejoicing when real evidence shows them that they are trouble free, on they go, to find something else to worry about. They are the hypochondriacs of life.  And they exist.  On a good day they become lawyers and turn their handicap into income, billing others by the hour for their worries. But most are not that lucky, and worry in vain. And we understand them because even the most optimistic among us has something in common with those “worriers”. We have all worried about issues that just did not deserve our attention. The key question is how frequently does this happen to us.

So how can we distinguish the worrier in us from the warrior in us? Here’s an idea.  Start a diary of your worries.  Every day write a note to self in some type of social media, about “the worry of the day”.  Write it in a circle with only one member: yourself. Tell yourself what upsets you that day. Something like: today I am worried about… blank.  And build a collection of worries. A timeline of worries.

And then, at some point in the future, go back to these worries.  And see what you were worried about last month, or last year.  By then you will be able to judge if worrying made sense. If it helped you.  If you worried about something worthy of your angst. If you had a fear or a phobia.  If you were a warrior, or a worrier. And if you were a worrier, use this diary to learn to fine tune your worries to their likelihood of true damage to your life in the future. Learn to pick opponents who deserve your anxiety.

I know, I fight ghosts sometimes, we all do. And we will go on worrying about some harmless issues. Still, it would be good to have a “worries tag cloud” after a year.  To be able to study what made us lose sleep, and use that cloud to avoid sleepless nights in the future.

This article was also published in LinkedIn. You can follow Martin by clicking below

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

Andreu on October 21, 2012  · 

Interesting idea. I wonder if a warrior and a worrier may live together, sharing a life, a business, a project. Is that possible? Or will the warrior be condemned to try and help his lover/partner, never fully succeeding as there will always be something else to worry about? I guess a worrier may be a good asset if handled properly, as some kind of “potential problem detector”, but then the warrior must learn to deal with the worriers anxiety, without being infected with the fear, immobility and pessimism of that kind of person.

Let us know if you have any tip on that! :)

A.

P. Neiliberales on October 21, 2012  · 

One of the best, if not the best post I’ve read, probably anywhere. Thanks…

Adan on October 21, 2012  · 

very nice, Martin. Inspirational stuff that can help anyone, everyday…

Guillermo on October 22, 2012  · 

Really insightful and inspirational. Thanks for sharing it!. We entrepreneurs have to be able to overcome our worries as true warriors to achieve our goals. It is a daily challenge in which we grow not only professionally but personally. We have to love what you do and you have to love to be in challeging situations in which have to perserve, using your creativity to adapt to a very uncertain environment.

I appreciate very much that such a successful entrepreneur as Martín is so keen to share his most inner feelings, concerns and personal experiences as an entrepreneur. That helps the rest a lot. We know that even the most brilliant
and successful ones have followed the same emotional path (and roller coaster ;)).

Italo on October 31, 2012  · 

very nice post martin, i have to return more often here,

Eduardo Lina on November 2, 2012  · 

Hi, Martín!
On to an aspect of this subject, then: You seem to be tired of writing on this blog (just compare the situation now with that of some two years ago). Perhaps technology allows you to choose other venues / tools with which to share your interests.
But then, you seem to have moved the bulk of your writing to Twitter, yet the Twitter area on the blog does not work well as your Twits fail to upload – well at least it seems to me that that is the situation).
I guess you are quite busy with other (probably better) issues, but then, finding nothing new on your blog for days and days on may be something to worry about.
I wish you and your family well, and hope there isn’t anything serious indeed to worry about.
Keep up the good work.
Shalom from Israel to you and your readers
PS: Incidentally, this is an area of the globe where being worried is second nature to all of us, regardless of age, gender, religion, nationality, affiliation, football likes and disllikes and anything else you might think of (it worries me that I can’t come up with other words)

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