There are two drives in the human condition, fear and passion, which provide rich sources of finding direction for the Balanced Leader. The key is to know which path to take. In the fear-conquering world success depends on setting a goal for yourself and focusing all your energy in that direction. You keep your eye on the prize, overcome all obstacle along the way and sharpen your skills for the final showdown. In the fear-conquering world achieving the goal trumps personal comfort.
Fear is a great motivator when the desired outcome or dire consequences are clear. My tire is flat in the middle of nowhere and despite 40 below temperatures and a co-pilot who sees this as a good time to have a hissy fit, I dig down and get the frozen mud encrusted lugs off the tire in the dark. In the end, I feel really good about myself. I got the job done and the next time I face a challenge, I know I can overcome it.
But what if I am not so clear on what the outcome should look like, as in when I’m picking a vocation or coming up with an original idea. If I set out with a clear goal as to what I am going to be when I grow up I may find myself on the wrong path. That goal may be based on a false idea of what the job is like, or an unconscious desire to meet the expectations of someone else.
Whenever the task is to find meaning or to be creative, it is important to maintain an open attitude towards new possibilities. The focus needs to be broad and the direction needs to come from something inside me – a feeling. When my passion ignites I am on the right path. When the situation leaves me cold this is great information, I are closer to understanding your purpose than I was before. I take this good information and turn back to the point where I felt passion for my work and ask that inner guide ‘where is the next good place for me to explore?’ A workshop participant and good friend, Joyce, gave me this fabulous Tibetan quote, “No matter how far you are on the wrong path, turn back!”
These are two ways of viewing obstacles along the road to doing your work. In the fear-conquering world (what if a competitor beats me to the market with this great new product we have spent years and billions developing?) you need a heroic focus on getting there first. In the passion-embracing world (how am I going to combine things in a new way and invent a great new product?) you need to look for the serendipity in the obstacles, be playful and meander with curiosity to who knows where.