Fear is debilitating. It distorts reality, dilutes competency and can rob us of opportunity. In the workplace, fear accommodates bullying, suppresses ideas and talent, and can be a cultural killer.
Managing fear is an essential ability for anyone in business to possess because it is the bedrock of resilience. The challenge for many business professionals is that they associate fear with some form of loss.
The idea of losing your reputation, status, job, security, likeability or social connections, encourages a deep subconscious desire to remain safe. However, keeping safe brings unintended consequences for individuals and organisations.
For individuals, they begin to cultivate limiting beliefs, a loss of confidence, and an increased risk of anxiety, stress and unhappiness. Combined, you see the negative results in engagement surveys and cultural apathy.
For fear to be conquered, courage must exist. And if courage is knowing what not to fear, then managing our perception, is the perfect starting point to live without fear in business.
Our perceptions have thoughts and emotions attached to them. The greater our perception of exposure to loss, the more extreme is our feelings and thoughts. One of the most extreme emotions is fear, causing us to freeze and do nothing or rely on embedded habits to keep us safe.
To break the ‘perception cycle’ we must review a situation as it really is – not as we believe it will turn out. Equally, there is a need to remove subjectivity, speculation, and confirmation bias.
In essence, stick to the facts and not an illusion of the facts, or the future you divine based on your fears. Challenge your fears by asking critically reasoned questions, generating a variety of options and solutions and seeking the support and advice of trusted colleagues and friends.
Facing your fear for what it really is, helps you regulate your fearful emotions and supports you in generating options.
Once you have your perception under control, you can then start to cultivate the best emotional companion you can have when it comes to managing fear and that is companion is, resilience.
Developing mental toughness is a way of life. It allows us to bounce back after facing challenges and keeps safe, our mental wellbeing. There are two important ingredients in developing resilience: taking control and being optimism.
Taking control of a challenging situation is underpinned by the knowledge that we possess only direct and indirect control. We have direct control over our perceptions, emotions, thoughts, behaviours and choices. However, indirect control is all about influencing, because it involves others.
Taking direct control means that you start to live life on your terms and not those of others. You fashion the outcomes that matter to you because you are strong enough to pursue a path that others may not. In essence, you apply integrity, dignity and resolve to the decisions you make.
The second, important ingredient in developing resilience, is optimism. Optimism allows for the absolute fact that from time-to-time, you will experience failure and disappointment.
Optimism is the faith needed to achieve whatever is in your heart to accomplish. It allows for a positive spin on an uncertain outcome by understanding that in business, and in life, you cannot predict or control everything. Covid-19 taught us this very lesson.
Being optimistic brings adaptability, creativity and positive energy. Optimism recognises fear but gives it no power to convert into pessimism, negativity and inaction.
Resilience is an emotional muscle than can be exercised and over time, the subconscious happily forms a working habit and it is the type of habit not intimidated by fear.
In the end, fear turns out to be nothing more than a choice. In business, regardless of the situation, it is we who decide to accept fear into our working lives. Fear willingly strips people of their abilities and potential if allowed.
However, I believe we all possess the necessary qualities to face fear and rise above it. After all, everything we truly want, is on the other side of fear.
About the author
Denise Richardson had a traumatic past.
By the age of fourteen Denise had been in and out of children’s homes, had been homeless, and had faced enormous physical and emotional cruelty at the hands of her parents.
She had to learn to manage her fear to succeed in corporate world. She rose above her past and worked in recruitment across Australia, UK, Malaysia and the Middle East as an international business executive. Denise is now a qualified success coach and has now set up her FearLESS programme to help women to build confidence and live without fear.
Denise Richardson’s memoir Cruel: One Child’s Story To Survive is published by New Horizon Publishing, priced £7.95. See more at https://www.fearlessoutcomes.com/
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