UNTHINKABLE – 3 : “Let Go” – of our fears

The UNTHINKABLE articles were first posted on Linked In. 

I smile as I recognise that the speed of change and evolution now means that I’ve put developing this leadership model on hold for now. I am, however, leaving these 7 articles up as I feel they do illustrate core source issues and opportunities for leaders to look at in themselves prior to developing and practicing their own evolution of their leadership.

(The third in a series of articles inspired by a Sep 26, 2017 Workshop for Entrepreneurial Scotland)

I shared a story in the last article of a business leader who had their life unthinkably disrupted by a natural disaster.

I’m going to stay with the subject of identifying fears today, as we tend to avoid our fears or rationalize them away. Open Leadership is about being human and authentic, so let us bravely go deeper into our fears.

When I shared the story of the business leader in a group environment and asked them for feedback, a number gave rationale based responses, such as “they’ll be ok if insurance covers them”.

This was a wake up call to me about a) what it takes to empathise, and b) how we look to rationalize away uncomfortable feelings.

Having been through a similar natural disaster myself, my experience is that such an event knocks you down to the very bottom tier of the pyramid in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

(As an aside, one of my business heros is Chip Conley, who wrote an amazing book called Peak, where he took Maslow’s work into business.)

Empathy is a key trait of Open Leadership, and to empathise with people impacted it is key to recognize that our drivers in crisis situations are not based on our thinking, but on our feelings. In extreme situations, we even move beyond feelings into pure instinct, otherwise known as “fight or flight” or the amygdala or “lizard brain” as Seth Godin puts it.

The question posed in the last article was to ask readers to consider their deepest fears, and so gain some self-knowledge as to what our response would be to a crisis. Be clear that these personal fear drivers will absolutely impact your business and the people in it.

Now, short of putting you in the middle of a disaster and making you fear for your life and that of your family, I don’t have a magical way to help you identify your fears. What I recommend is simply to open yourself up to self-enquiry. The past is a great predictor of the future for such “baked in” drivers, so take some quiet time and reflect on this.

Look to recall crisis situations in your past. Yes, consider your business history, but this is unique to each person and our most formative years are our childhood. Remember these moments, remember how you responded, remember how others responded.

Please also share your feedback (and perhaps your fears and how they have impacted you and your business) in the comments.

Also published on Medium.

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