“What if” Doomsday or Possibilities?

In working with business people, both management and those they manage, I’m discovering so much of the overwhelm is based on “what if”. Hidden within the what if, is the fear of the unknown.

And isn’t fear all about the unknown, what might happen if I don’t make it into work today? What will my bosses think if I don’t agree with them? What will my employees decide about me when they learn I’ve made a mistake? What if this business doesn’t  survive and I lose the money I’ve invested? What will my family think of me?

BFO (Big freak outs).

I have been attuned to the concept of fear at many various stages  of my life. It can keep you wide awake at night and make you eat too much or not enough, wondering what if?

But when I sit down with clients and listen to their fear story, the very act of talking it over with an experienced advisor dissolves most of the shortness of breath that carrying it all by themselves creates. Looking at the NOW truth, what is really happening right at this very moment reality, puts a positive pause on the panic button of the “what if” bomb.

“What if’”s are more effective when we seek enlightenment for ideas instead of options for catastrophes.

“What if we gave client’s more than what they expect?”, is more productive than, “What if we don’t get that contract signed by Friday noon????”

Fear is not real. It’s a thought, a feeling. It doesn’t show up anywhere except your thoughts. And we know the overwhelm that builds condo’s in there!

David Whyte, one of my favorite poets and teachers said in his seminar I attended in January, “You don’t have to overcome your fears, you simply have to know what you are afraid of.”

Knowing you are afraid of the dark, you reach for the light switch.  Allowing what is, to just be, opens the space for you to make good and right decisions based on a calm and clear mind, not one overwhelmed and stuck in a pretend world of maybe. True leaders and valuable employees open the door to fear and the windows too when it arrives and lets it pass right through. Fear is an invitation to recognize uncertainty and create a plan of action (sometimes non-action) that can break down the perceived hugeness of the problem into more easily managed pieces.

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” Pema Chodron

My sister Molly is an ultra runner She deals with fear when she stands at the START line at her 50, 100 and 135 mile non-stop ultra-races in the high altitude Himalayas, during flash floods in the Sahara desert stage race, storms so strong the rescuers called off the finish of a race in the “rocky mountains” of New Zealand. She was in Utah preparing for a 50 mile race last weekend and we had a wonderful conversation about fear.

“I’ve learned to be comfortable with fear.” she explained. “I’m able to put my mind into a higher plane of problem solving. I become more aware and alert.  I also prepare well for my adventure but there’s always the element of surprise and danger.” I’ve known my sister for over 56 years. Her adventures in being fearless began 6 years ago.

“My ultimate freedom is feeling my personal power beyond comfort.” Like the time she was lost in the dark at midnight during a 100 mile race and had to call out for help until another runner came to her rescue. Molly runs into her fear literally, and then just keeps on running right through it. She’s  made friends with it.

I’m not suggesting we become ultra-runners to fight fear and embrace courage. Sometimes I have to dig deep for my fearlessness when the line in front of me at the grocery store is stalled over too many coupons being scanned and my hypoglycemic is kicking in because I skipped a meal and I feel like showing my frustration by griping.

Michael Carroll, author of Fearless at Work says that often times the biggest act of courage is to be still. If just for a few moments. To face it and let it be.

Dealing with an upset superior or facing the boredom that can be a day in the office requires a calmness from deep within. To be fearless is to step closer to the truth as Pema Chodron suggests, to run through it like Molly does or to stand calmly in line and just be with it.

As soon as I relax into it, the last coupon gets scanned and the line moves forward.

Happens every time.

Enjoy this clip from Michael Carroll from his timely book on addressing fear in the work place, Fearless At Work.

I’m enjoying his workshop this week on the subject. http://vimeo.com/52172345

Comments

  1. Hi . . . thanks for the walk in the canyon on Friday. It was great to meet your sisiter Molly. In adding to your thoughts on fear I have something to add. In some cases we fear the things we did not do. I find discomfort in having to answer an important business question on the phone. I like time to mull it over. I often forget in my time of “panick” to say could I call you back when I am at a better and give you an answer later.

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