When I say the word FEAR, how do you feel?
In Balanced Leadership we point out how fear can be a good ally.
Fear is an interesting emotion because it makes us feel closed, some say focused, and in my case anxious but it is also essential to survival. It offers an early warning system while there is still time to take action, which is a good thing. It can also cause stress and complete inaction. Not so good. When it comes to fear you want to remember the Goldilocks principle. Not too much, not too little, just right.
Fear should also be a response to an outside, objective influence. A deadline, a time sensitive opportunity, bills that need to be paid, potential fire dangers. These are all external factors that we need to push back against in order to maximize our survival. Fear gives you the motivation to identify the danger (I mean really quantify it), plan a response, and use your time efficiently. You feel the fear, use it to identify the direction danger is coming from, control it while you apply logic to the situation, and move yourself to favourable ground.
I was asked an excellent question at a workshop that got me thinking about other times when fear is in our lives but it is not working to our benefit. There are times when I am afraid that I don’t belong, or that I am offending people by thinking I have the answer. At these times I shrink back and make myself smaller. This is allowing fear to control my sense of self. This is when I should remind myself that you can’t use fear-based methods to get love-based results. There is no place for fear in self-definition. Self-doubt is a form of self-abuse.
If fear is causing you to question your self-worth, you need to switch worlds. There are aspects of work where it is hoped that you will bring value to the table. This is what the love-based world does for you. In order to develop this strong connection to self we must start with self-care to connect with a strong sense of your intrinsic worth. When you spend time following your bliss and developing your interests, something marvellous happens – you experience where you begin and the outside world ends. Knowing this boundary is incredibly powerful. These are times where your internal guidance system gets to be in charge. You don’t have to be afraid of what others think because you get to decide who you are and that you are worthy of love. And then it happens. You can afford to let other people in, and to hear their various opinions, even opinions about you, because you create the boundary between you and the outside world. You can be vulnerable and hear diverse opinions because they are not a threat to your sense of self. You might even be curious.
The love based world is highly generative. This is the well that you draw from, the place where you will have an original idea, the ability to listen to a friend and bring a joyful element to the office. Building a strong sense of self is value added to the workplace. It brings out your talents, and inspires people you work with and creates a welcoming environment. You do it for yourself and it is the gift that keeps on giving.
Next time you are feeling fear check in with yourself to determine if there is an outside danger that fear is giving you the heads up on, or you are feeling a threat to your sense of self. If you are worried you will be fired and won’t be able to pay the rent, build an action plan where you put some money into savings to buffer you from cash flow interruptions, and do some research on the places where your skills are needed and when they have job openings. If you are worried about being fired and how that will be emotionally crushing, and nobody else will want you because it will say you are not good enough – get the hell out of the fear based world! Head to the nearest spa or nature park and let the environment remind you of what it feels like to be treated well and in touch with what you love. You are worth it!
Remember, you can choose what world you are acting from. Facing the world with the lens of fear or love will determine how it presents itself to you.