How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Four American Fears
Rupert Wilkinson describes four American fears that pervade the US culture.
Many of the American forefathers were escaping oppression in Europe and their fears has persisted such that there is now there is a deep distrust of centralized government and large institutions.
This helps to explain why Communism is distrusted and feared by Americans.
Having build a large nation, they fear everything coming undone, as was threatened in the Civil War and is continued in the tensions between autonomy of states and the federal government.
This is expressed at the personal level with the need to have a perfect life with a perfect face, a perfect family etc. It is also about striving for identity and control in a turbulent world.
Mitroff (2005) adds the dimension of "blown apart" in the aftermath of 9/11, the fear that underlies abnormal accidents.
This fear is about losing their way and abandoning of the American dreams of the forefathers, including being the "moral beacon" of the world.
The original idea for America was relatively Utopian and there is a constant concern that this societal perfection will be eroded by the temptations of the material world.
This is a fear of losing the boundless energy of the forefathers which still pervades the dynamism of American business today.
The great American Dream of rags to riches (and subsequent social and global position) is widely accepted as being gained through enormous energy and diligence. When this fades through laziness or the greater energy of other countries, such as India or China, then the fear is increased.
So when persuading Americans, either play on these fears or align with them to show how you, too are concerned about these things.
Rupert Wilkinson, R. (1988). The Pursuit of American Character, Harper & Row
Mitroff, Ian I. (2005). Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger and Better from a Crisis: 7 Essential Lessons for Surviving Disaster. AMACOM: American Management Association