Cannon Financial Institute

Fleeing from Lions and Prospecting: What They Have in Common

A thrilling conversation with Executive Vice President and Practice Management Expert Linda Eaton.

Freeze! You’ve probably done this many times as an adult.  What’s more, you did it instantaneously, without conscious thought. Reason? You sensed danger. Why freeze? Because large feline predators such as lions are attracted to— and react to —movement writes body language expert Joe Navarro in “What Every Body Is Saying.”

Over the millennia, he said, our human ancestors on the wild plains of pre-historic Africa developed survival instincts, such as the “freeze response,” which are still hard-wired into us today. He pointed out that before humans decide between the classic “flight or fight,” we first “freeze” and assess the danger.1

“It’s the same with prospecting, believe it or not,” said Linda Eaton, Cannon EVP and Practice Management Expert. “Our ancient survival instincts work against us in this case. Using portable advanced imaging technology, neuroscience experts have been able to specifically identify these survival instincts, their location in our brains, what triggers them, and how they can be changed or mitigated.”  

If we can identify what we are contending with, then, we can at least understand why we avoid certain behaviors which could benefit us. “When it comes to prospecting,” said Linda, “we fear it because of the possible rejection. Being rejected, even by strangers, is painful to us far out of proportion to the action.” The reason for this, Linda said, was that in pre-historic times, our ancestors could not survive alone. They had to stay with their primary group or die. “If we’re rejected when prospecting—which we will be—this rejection triggers the pain of this ancient fear since rejection from the group could easily mean death.  No wonder we avoid prospecting!”

Neuroscience has also proven that we as humans will go to greater lengths to avoid pain than to experience pleasure. Promising ourselves a three-day vacation in our favorite spot if we achieve a certain prospecting goal rarely works because of this formulation. The pleasure of the promised vacation does not override the pain of experiencing the rejection that comes with prospecting.

“Having been an FA myself, I know how difficult and emotionally painful prospecting is. Yet in my work with FAs across the country, I observe that many find the action of prospecting less difficult when they understand where the deep dread of doing it comes from. After all, you are compelling yourself to override an ancient survival instinct, the avoidance of which once made the difference between life and death. I know this sounds dramatic, but it is true.”

What does an FA who wants to do more prospecting take from this? Said Linda, “as an FA, you need to understand that our fear of rejection was rational at one point in our evolution but no longer serves us well. So, the dread of prospecting you feel is real and goes deep and you are not being a wimp by acknowledging this to yourself.”

 When you understand where the fear comes from, and how deep it runs, then paradoxically, survival instincts such as avoiding rejection are easier to override. “Remember, it’s not your fault that lions found our ancestors a tasty treat.”


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1 What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro, 2008, Harper Collins Publishers, NY.

Contributing Writer: Subject Matter Expert Charles McCain

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