Fear — Paralyzing or Empowering — it’s your choice

Hello Everyone.

My new leadership blog has officially launched. If you are interested in following me, please click on the “follow Andy now” button at www.inspirationalcorner.ca

Inspirational Corner” is a blog about Leadership and Technology and my target audience is EVERYONE! I will be working with friends and other co-workers that have similar interests and will introduce them as special “guest writers” in the future (Abhay Sisodiya and Mike Pearcy will be some of the initial guests).  Please stay tuned for future announcements.

The last 2 Inspirational Corner posts talked about “better connecting” and “trust”. Since Halloween is just around the corner, I thought the most appropriate topic for this month was “Fear”. Fear can be either a paralyzing emotion or an empowering emotion. YES, I did say empowering. The problem is that most of us let “fear” engulf our actions – or lack of actions in some cases. I believe when you are aware of fear, it becomes your ally, and therefore a form of empowerment. Let me explain. Let’s take two common fears scenarios:

First: The fear of failure

The “paralyzing” aspect of this type of fear can cause a person to do as little as possible with their job: “I’ll fly under the radar and I won’t take risks or try to make a difference. I’ll just do what I’m told”. I’ve actually seen people do this and my observation is that it results in them self-fulfilling their fear. They may even lose their job over it! The act of not taking risks or actively making a difference resulted in comments like: “this person never volunteers to help us out” or “this person never has good ideas to share and is just along for the ride”. WOW! I’m certainly not the first or the last person to come into contact with a colleague or friend struggling with this type of fear.

Now, the person that turns this into an “Empowering” fear will have the attitude of failing fast and often, but also striving not to make the same mistakes over and over again. I have not met a manager in the world that would ever say “stop trying and stop failing”. In fact most managers will say that you learn most from failures and not successes. This is a very empowering perspective when we look at risk-taking as an opportunity to gain experience and also for growth. You might succeed or you might fail, but the biggest failure of all is not trying and NEVER giving yourself the chance to succeed.

Second: The fear of not being liked/loved

The “paralyzing” aspect of this fear can cause someone do things out of obligation that make them feel liked. This is what many of us do in an effort to be accepted by those around us and by our greater society. For example, it’s easier to say “yes”  in order to be likeable, but at the same time discount thoughts of “I don’t have time” or “I don’t want to” or even ”I shouldn’t.” This is the fear bullies often leverage. The recent story of Amanda Todd is a clear example of how this fear can have tragic consequences.

This fear is also one that I have lots of personal experience with. I want to be liked and honestly, I think we all do to a certain extent. At points in my life, I’ve found myself striving for the acceptance of others in order to stifle this fear. However, more and more I’ve come to realize that the first person that needs to like/love me is ME! Yes, me. Me, myself, and I. I can’t control what others think of me, but if I can love myself first, and work on opening my heart to others. In the management context, I challenge myself and others around me to answer the following question:

Would you rather be liked or respected?

My answer is that I would rather be respected (this includes respecting myself). If I can be liked by others, it’s a bonus, but ultimately out of my control. As managers in an organization, it is very tough to be both liked and respected at the same time. Don’t get me wrong – I do strive for both. However, eventually managers and leaders will have to make the realization that they will not be liked by everyone.

Here is what I believe today and what I share in my coaching sessions with others:

We live in Canada. We have jobs and we are employable (after all we live in Alberta). Food is easily assessable to us and we have homes to shelter us (unlike places in the world like Africa and other developing nations). We have people that care about us and will protect us (we DO NOT have cruise missiles flying over our heads). And in the grand scheme of things, we have nothing to FEAR but fear itself!

In regards to fear, here are a list of my personal choices for living in the world:

  • I choose to give my heart and risk having it broken.
  • I choose to make mistakes and fail because that will help me grow and learn as a person.
  • I choose to live life instead of letting life happen to me.
  • I choose to not let fear engulf my actions
  • I choose to believe that the best way to combat fear is to be aware of it, so that I can be empowered to deal with life’s challenges “head on” with a positive attitude.

What do you choose?

Have an awesome day and make a difference!

– Andy

Leadership Quote of the Month:
“Leaders must be tough enough to fight, tender enough to cry, human enough to make mistakes, humble enough to admit them, strong enough to absorb the pain, and resilient enough to bounce back and keep on moving.” — Jesse Jackson


One thought on “Fear — Paralyzing or Empowering — it’s your choice

  1. Love extending inneclfue by empowering people! People general are much more capable than we give them credit for. So much better than the control and micro-manager approach! YES!

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