Manage Your Fears

“Fear is a safety mechanism that all human beings have, at one point or another e.g. it prevents from putting our hands on a open flame. The more we have at stake (the future of an organisation, of our family or our own) the more we have to fear. Fear could be strong enough to paralyse our thinking process and block our creativity. It is then that our fears become weaknesses and they will be perceived by those around us.” - Josefina Martinez

“Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if you explore them.” - Marilyn Ferguson

Based on what has happened around the world lately, I am sure you have also developed some new fears. Some recent examples: Most people in Australia now fear bush fires, as they’ve witnessed how deadly they can be. Here in Australia we also fear to go swimming or wave surfing in sea early morning or late afternoon, because we know that these are the time zones the deadly sharks are most active… And since the global economic crisis started to kick in end of 2008, most of us will fear for their job and for the future of the company they work for. So as a leader of a company or a team of people; how do you deal with fear? Fear is endemic in an organisation facing hard times. But leaders should not show fears they feel to their team. It sends the wrong signal and can cause their team members to lose faith. Stoic, perhaps, but it is the reality of leading in an organization. Fear persists, however, so how leaders deal with it is important. First and foremost, the leader needs to remain in control of himself and his team. Until told otherwise the manager must adopt the command position by knowing and acting on expectations for self and the team. Moving forward, here are things a leader can do to deal with the situation.

Be realistic. High achievers fear something more than business failure; they fear they will not perform up to expectations. It is critical to address that possibility. One way is to game it out in your mind. Play the "what happens if" scenario for each action step. If this happens, then what? Or if that happens, what do I do? Rolling the scenario out in your mind may give you comfort of knowing the consequences. So often the unknown is more fearful than the known. "Fear," goes the German proverb, "makes the wolf bigger than he is."

Look for inspiration. Find an outlet to release your fear. Exercise is always good; keeping yourself fit is healthy. Some find hope in their faith; others find it in doing something completely different, perhaps coaching a team, volunteering at a shelter, or organizing a food drive. These things can be fulfilling because they get you outside of yourself by helping others. Confide in a friend. Talk it out with a friend, preferably not a subordinate. You can role play the scenario with him/her as a means of gaining perspective. Invite your colleague to ask you questions. So often the simple act of speaking out loud is helpful. Verbalising the situation forces an individual to frame the situation in ways that can lead to greater clarity.

Lighten up. Dwelling in fear is a zero-sum game. You must abandon that mindset. Make light of the situation. Lampoon it. Take a cue from humorist, Dave Barry, who wrote, "All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears--of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words 'Some Assembly Required." Absurdity never hurt anyone!   Fear is reality when dealing with tough times, but how you manage it is the measure of effective leadership. One who succumbs and gives up surrenders the ability to lead. Standing up to fear, acknowledging its presence, and resolving to move forward, requires determination, and yes courage. That's the stuff of real leaders! - by John Baldoni “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” - Elbert Hubbard

Make this a Positive & Fruitful Day…..unless you have other plans!

Warm regards & success,

Patrick Driessen