Leaders . . . Untangle Your Own Fears and Minimize Your Corporate Tangles

Tue, Mar 09, 2010

As the leader of my own firm, the hardest thing that I have had to do during these challenging times is manage myself . . . and my own fear. The newspaper headlines do not help. This morning, one of the top headlines in the Wall Street Journal screamed "New Fears as Credit Markets Tighten Up." This was like a red light, siren alert: Marcia, arm yourself, and hold on, it is getting worse. As an expert in human and organizational dynamics, I intellectually know that I am "catastrophizing." That is, I am taking one data point and in my mind, extending it out to its worst possible consequence. I know that this is not healthy emotionally, psychologically, or strategically. It is difficult to shore up my confidence and come up with creative business solutions when my mind and body are frozen with fear.

In these moments, the way I am making sense of the world is not serving me. And, if you as a leader are sense of the world in a similar way, it is not serving you. The decisions and actions I take when I am in the grip of fear do not move me forward. In fact, they move me backwards. If your reactions are like mine, your actions as a leader could create what I call a Frozen Tangle-an organization paralyzed with fear with little or no creative actions.

As an expert in human and organizational dynamics, I know that we have a choice about how we make sense of the world. We can choose the object of our focus, and pay attention to the feelings and emotions they evoke.

I am a proponent of positive psychology. Recent studies have shown that focusing on strengths and the positives does indeed to results that are more positive. I am also a proponent of finding practices and tools that are pragmatic and work. Esther and Jerry Hicks have some simple exercises that I find grounding and practical.

For the past two weeks, I have been paying attention to what evokes positive feelings (happiness, joy, contentment, elation) and even brings on a smile. For instance, earlier this week, driving home from a meeting, I saw a mother and her small child crossing the street, holding hands. Both were laughing and smiling. That brought a spontaneous smile to my face. I am focusing on extending that positive feeling as long as possible.

Even if it is a micro-moment, I am taking note. At the end of each day, I mentally review all of my micro-moments of feeling good, paying attention to increasing those moments. As I review those moments, I made an effort to recreate the positive feelings. When possible, I extend that feeling to more than a minute, and then also focus on my business goals, taking time to experience the positive feelings of achieving them.

I am noticing a subtle shift in my energy from frenetic and worried to calmer and more content. When I am feeling more content, I am able to think more clearly and come up with better ideas. I am also better able to communicate to others.  And ironically, more positive things are coming my way. The phone is ringing.

I recently worked with a coaching client who needed to prepare for an important meeting. He was worried and feeling less than confident. I had him recall a time when he felt most successful and confident in his abilities. I had him describe those to me in detail. I noticed a shift in his tone and voice. I asked him to describe the feelings that he was experiencing. He was able to take that state into his meeting, and it was a success.

If you need assistance untangling your own fears so that you can then produce stronger business results, contact me at info@rubenconsulting.com for a free 10-minute consultation.

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

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