October 20, 2011
Drive Fear Out of the Workplace!

As I understand it, Peter Drucker (world class management guru) was totally committed to driving fear out of the workplace.

He knew (as you do, on a good day) that you cannot have a successful business if fear is running the show.

Fear constricts. Fear depresses. Fear limits the amount of options you have because survival rules the day -- and when survival rules the day, we end up operating like Neanderthals -- perceiving everything as a threat to our well-being.

What's fascinating about this is that all of us, at some level, are afraid -- and we end up bringing our fear into the workplace.

What kind of fear?

Fear of change. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of failure. Fear of being dominated. Fear of being judged. Fear of feedback. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of being overwhelmed. Fear of commitment. Fear of being manipulated. Fear of working hard and having nothing to show for it. Fear of losing your job. Fear of being penniless. Fear of other people. And on and on and on...

Well, then... what to do with all this fear business?

First off, recognize that you (and everyone else around you) is human and, as such, is subject to fear (and fear's second cousins -- anxiety, worry, discomfort, nervousness, agitation, and projection).

Secondly, realize that fear ("False Evidence Appearing Real") is not who you are and not what you want and that it is definitely possible to go beyond it.

And thirdly, do what you can to find the place inside yourself that is free of fear -- the place of faith, confidence, relaxation, clarity, innovation, trust, and resilience.

If you can't find it (and some days it ain't easy), connect with a co-worker, friend, or teammate and air it out. Don't keep your fear bottled up. It will eat you alive from the inside.

Remember, if you are feeling fear, acknowledge it. As Fritz Perls once put it, "Awareness cures." Just being aware of the fact that you are feeling fear, is the first step towards it dissipating.

And remember this: Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It can also serve you.

Indeed, it was very useful for our Neanderthalic ancestors to feel fear from time to time. Why? Because it alerted them to real danger that needed to be dealt with. It got their adrenelin pumping enough to run from the saber-toothed tiger.

The fact that you are feeling some fear today may simply be due to the fact that you are actually sensing danger (i.e. funky business systems, bad accounting, lack of budgets, poor teamwork, old mindsets) that will eventually bring your business down unless something useful is done. So, that's a good thing.

But it's only a good thing if you let the fear you are feeling translate into intelligent action. Otherwise, you run the risk of being gobbled up by your fear which only leads to crappy feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, and overwhelm -- not exactly the drivers of innovation and success.

Of course, if there is no saber-toothed tiger (down the hallway, around the corner, in the next office), then there's really no reason to be afraid, is there? If the saber-toothed tiger is only in your mind, you have the option to dismiss it. "Down boy!"


1. Acknowledge it.

2. Write down what you are afraid of (or anxious about).

3. Tell someone (a friend, teammate, your boss, your FB friends).

4. Item by item, come up with a game plan for what you (and your company) can do to address the root causes of what it is that is sparking fear in you.

5. Acknowledge your successes each time your fear subsides and is supplanted by relaxation, ease, insight, breakthrough, and success.

6. Read this aloud

OK, oh brave readers of this blog, what else can you do to transmute your fear into breakthrough? Tell us. Leave a comment. Share your wisdom with us.

If we get enough juicy suggestions, we'll publish something like "50 Awesome Things You Can Do to Go Beyond Fear."

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at October 20, 2011 10:25 AM

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