Fear contaminates everything it touches. There seems to be much to fear these days with economic and global threats coming at us constantly. However, leading from a place of fear only clouds our judgment, causes us to be reactionary rather than strategic, and creates pain for us and those around us.
Fear stems from resistance. We don’t like the way things are or where we think they are headed so we resist rather than accept and confront reality. Fear seeks self-protection and always prompts us to unconscious self-protective behaviors that we learned from the past. Our desire is to make the uncomfortable feelings go away.
Dealing with fear begins with the understanding that it is our thoughts and automatic feelings that create the fear and our reactions to it, not the situation we are in. For example, in a recent coaching conversation with a young executive we talked about her tendency to avoid conflict. She has a strength for creating and keeping harmony by trying to make sure people are happy. This helps her avoid discomfort but make her ineffective in some aspects of her leadership. When she was able to see that she has a previously unconscious belief that it is not her place to challenge people at certain levels of status, she realized this thought holds her back from doing what she needs to do. Now she can stop and observe these thoughts and the fear associated with them, choose to drop them, and take appropriate action even though it will make her uncomfortable at first. Then she can use her strength of harmony to effectively confront rather than avoid the situation.
As a leader you must be aware of how fear operates in your life and how you deal with it. Observe your thoughts and feelings more closely and see how they influence your responses, not only at work but also in your family and marriage relationships. You can choose to be fearless by consciously setting it aside, focusing your attention on what needs to be done and moving forward through your fear or anxiety. Through this you can experience a new level of yourself that you used to hide from yourself and you can learn to outgrow the ideas and beliefs that are the source of your fear.