“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Timothy Ferriss, The 4 Hour Work Week
No matter the situation, most would agree that it is outside of your comfort zone where the most opportunity to flourish professionally, personally, and financially exists. Leaders are responsible for the careers and “flourishing” of others. We owe it to those we lead to guide them from fearful to flourishing individuals. Leaving the cozy comfort zone is where the greatest achievements happen.
Doing Something You’ve Never Done Before
How can operating in fear become your comfort zone? It begins with cultivating the skill of being comfortable with the uncomfortable. There are many situations in which we experience pain and embrace it. When you lift weights at the gym, the small tears of your muscles are not viewed as negative, but instead the burning feeling is a sign that progress is being made!
If it is possible for us to feel physical pain and appreciate it for what it is, why can’t that same mindset be applied to other areas in our life? Instead of tackling the things we fear last, imagine if we developed an ability to flip that fearful feeling on it’s head. What if we could saw pain for what it truly was? Proof of progress.
Start with an open discussion with those you lead. Help them understand that if you want something in life that you’ve never had, you will have to do something you have never done. If you aren’t afraid of doing something, it generally means you don’t find it very important, or you wouldn’t have that fear. Important work is inextricably linked to valuable responsibilities within a professional setting, and valuable responsibilities are what can cement an individual’s feeling of a high degree of career fulfillment.
Career fulfillment = Employee Retention
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” – John Maxwell
Encourage them not just to survive challenges but to thrive in them. Inspire change by asking each individual to select a professional situation they fear most and how they will choose to run towards that fear. Lead by example and go first! What’s a professional situation that you are running from?
The Root of Fear
Knowing what needs to be done and understanding what is holding you back from doing something are two different assignments. You might know what you want/should do, but the REAL problem comes when someone can’t figure out why they are feeling the way they do. How can you help those you lead better understand the root cause of fear?
Most paralyzing situations stem from one of two thoughts. It’s either a fear of failure or a fear of not being good enough. Reflect on the uncomfortable scenario you envisioned earlier. Would you agree that the underlying originating fear is one of those two origins?
When we start listening to doubts, the voice in our head becomes a breeding ground for negativity. Whether we like it or not, people will always have an opinion. Understanding that those people are entitled to their thoughts, yet disassociating ourselves from those opinions, is essential in moving past any fear of being judged. Remember, it’s not the thing itself, but rather the outcome that matters. Consider these re-wiring of sentences:
- You’re not scared of public speaking…you’re scared of being criticized by those you’re speaking to.
- You’re not afraid of taking on a challenging project…you’re afraid of failing at it.
- You’re not anxious about a difficult conversation…you’re anxious as to how the other person will choose to respond.
- You’re not nervous about being vulnerable…you’re nervous about being judged for your vulnerability.
- You don’t fear success…you fear not being worthy of it.
Teach your team to point themselves in the direction of what is most important to them, rather than being hard on themselves for feeling fear in the first place.
Off the Hook?
Although the focus of this wisdom is around those we lead, us leaders are not completely off the hook. What is it you avoid doing as a leader? Difficult conversations, delivering criticism, demonstrating empathy, fostering authentic personal relationships, or being fully present?
Today, take time to analyze yourself and be your own constructive critic.
Understand that you might be part of the problem, even if unintentionally. Fear is grounded in fear of judgment, and your team is likely acutely aware that the gavel you hold is what rules the courtroom. Don’t resist letting people run, trip, or fall down because you know they won’t be as good as you. BREAKING NEWS! You used to not be as good as you, either! Distance yourself from the “how” of the work and focus your attention on outputs and results. Through practice, we will conquer fear!
With over 90 years of Logistics experience, Top Talent is a recognized leader in Talent Acquisition for Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain., Let us put our team to work for you. To learn more about successful strategies for getting those impact players and game-changers on your team, reach out to us today.
– Michael Monson
President and CEO