Mind over Managing: The fear factor

Daniel is the managing director of Nordeq Management (nordeqmanagement.com), managing cross-border investment projects with a focus on international corporate and tax law issues. Educated as a lawyer, Daniel is passionate about mindfulness as a means of personal transformation, and he holds workshops and runs one-on-one mentoring programs on the subject (deepening-connection.com).

I’ve been meditating on and off for the past 15 years and have settled into a daily routine of morning contemplation for over a year now.

Whilst it hasn’t resulted in me becoming a zen-like example of calm and tranquillity, it has given me a fairly decent insight into what goes on in my head – when I take the time to stop and look.

Start every day with meditation – on the beach, even better (Photo: Colourbox)

Common denominator
Something that has struck me recently is the extent to which my judgments and actions are governed by one thing in particular: fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of losing. Fear of not being in control. All of these things coalesce in a fear of leadership. This is also completely self-contradictory – I enjoy being the one in charge, the one with whom the buck stops, the one who has to stand up and make the difficult decisions. But it does, frankly, scare me – and until recently, I’d always thought that it shouldn’t.

What’s the message?
In the past I’ve taken this ‘fear factor’ as an indicator that I was better suited to non-leadership positions in which I’m less exposed and my shortcomings will not necessarily be as evident. This approach is, however, giving in to the old adage of being afraid of fear itself – and also means that I am missing an opportunity to examine what it is that fear is trying to tell us.

It helps to see fear, as with any other emotion, as a messenger – an indicator that something is happening that does not fit with our prior expectations, a wake-up call that we need to deal with what is happening here and now, which (yet again!) is not turning out the way we believed it was ‘supposed’ to.

Brave enough for fear
Owning up to fear is difficult, as it carries within it an explicit admission of our own imperfection and vulnerability. I’ve learned, though, that maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Fear is an invitation to meet the unknown grounded in an acceptance of the present moment – which I think is a good definition of courage.

And being courageous sounds much more like what a boss should be doing.