Now we are a couple weeks into 2017 and I am starting back writing again as one of my 2017 resolutions. What better way to start out is to capture lessons from the past and in a series of posts I will do just that based on lessons that I believe we should all take away from 2016.

In 2016 many of us heard about the scary clown craze and some people have significant fears of clowns and others do not so it is a good lead in for this discussion.

One of human’s greatest emotions is fear. We make irrational decisions based on fear. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of not being good at something. Fear ob police. Fear of losing a relationship. Fear of losing security. The rational human actor of traditional economics has been debunked by behavioral economics and the irrational human actor.

This irrational human actor often acts the way they do out of fear. People are motivated by fear and make decisions that are not in their best interest out of fear. For those of us without those fears it is easy for us to discount these choices made out of fear.

One lesson 2016 has taught us is don’t discount people and their fears if you haven’t walked in the same shoes you cannot truly relate. And, instead of discounting those fear-based decisions, understand the fears, empathize with those fears, and help people get past those fears. Only by understanding, empathizing, and helping people get past fears will move people from fear-driven decisions and drive them to data-driven decisions.*

Remember people no matter where they are from, what their education is, or how they grew up still have emotions and fear being one of the strongest. Instead of negatively increasing their fear, try to mitigate fear with empathy and positive messaging.

This week those of us in the United States have a new President and it is good for us to understand that Donald Trump just like all Americans and people in the world has fears. It is each of our responsibilities to understand, empathize, and helping him and all of our fellow citizens get past their fears.

*In a future post I will be speaking about data driven decisioning and lessons from 2016 including the need to have healthy skepticism about data and understanding what it indicates and what it doesn’t indicate.

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photo credit: Michael VH Zombie Clown via photopin (license)