In the first blog of this series, Fear at Work: is your team in shock, I asked you to take a moment to identify your own ‘being state’ and to think about how much work time you and others spend in a state of fear.
In organizations, fear can shut down the productivity and effectiveness of a team. Besides being so important for teams to address fear based behavior, Unfear is also critical for us as individuals. When we focus on our survival instead of on higher-order issues, we can get ourselves in a boatload of trouble. There are two ways we can deal with fear. The negative way is to react to fear unconsciously, letting it drive our behavior in ways that don’t serve us. The positive way is to understand fear for its value. Fear’s aim is survival! In a situation of physical life and death, fear can move us out of the way of a falling object, or get us to run from a hungry animal. It can stop us from moving when that could hurt us, and can alert our body to gear up to fight when we need to defend ourselves. All fears are operating for a reason. Fear possesses positive intent.
In business, those instantaneous responses to fear are not usually that useful. In fact, fight, flight, and paralysis are often the worst ways to react to work situations and can get in the way of all of our best thinking and action.
The Four Practices of Unfear
What are we to do with ever-increasing symptoms of future shock that remove our calm and rationality, and drive erratic behavior through our increasing fear of the future?
We need to bring out our amazing human capacity to be thoughtful and conscious before we act; we must cultivate our ability to operate from a state of Unfear.
Leaders, like the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, use the four practices that engage Unfear:
1) Accepting what is, and focusing on the future
2) Building relationships and community
3) Viewing challenges as opportunities
4) Practicing physical and mental discipline
The best and most exciting organizations are those that focus on creating a positive future and work toward that future. They engage both the minds and hearts of their employees because there is a shared sense of achievement and a promise of creating something positive together.
These attributes of accepting the real, focusing on the future, building relationships and community, viewing challenges as opportunities, and practicing physical and mental discipline are not new, but they provide us a much-needed formula to help us step away from future shock and back into strength and empowerment in the face of change.