Why we worry about all the wrong things, by Hilary Stohs-Krause


Modern humans aren’t great at risk assessment.

We often blithely ignore that which could harm us, and are conversely intimidated by things that are factually quite safe.

This inability to recognize threat has vast implications for many aspects of our lives, including our careers. In this talk, we’ll explore root causes of fear and anxiety, and discover how we can work to deliberately rewrite our “instincts”, redirect our worry toward what actually matters, and channel it into productive outcomes that make us safer, happier and less stressed.


This talk was born from conversations with psychiatrist, teacher and manager friends, as well as friends with diagnosed anxiety, who talked about their struggles to distinguish (or help others distinguish) between perceived threats and actual threats (ie: fear of terrorism vs. fear of car crashes).

But it’s not just about physical safety - I found myself struggling with knowing what was actually “dangerous” in terms of my career. Would asking for a raise make me seem difficult? Why do we focus on the “threat” of people not working enough hours, vs. being productive and keeping turnover low?

By exploring how we process fear and the various factors that contribute to our sense of risk, we can begin to rethink our fears and anxieties and learn how to engage in better risk assessment (in a variety of scenarios). By letting go of unnecessary stress, worry and anxiety, we free up emotional energy and improve our mental (and physical!) health.

This talk is aimed at anyone who wants to do a better job of directing stress and worry into actionable steps, instead of missing out on opportunities or being weighed down by misguided fears and anxieties. It’s not meant to be a therapy session, but an exploration of fear and risk, and give attendees tools to better manage and assess fears and concerns in their daily lives.

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