The Most Common Fear

be successfulWhat do you think is the most common fear in business today? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of dissolution? Fear of the market? Fear of regulations? Fear of whistle blowers? According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 19 million people have specific phobias, such as crossing bridges or tunnels; 15 million have a social phobia, e.g., public speaking; and 2 million have agoraphobia, when sufferers avoid places where they previously had a panic attack. Those who have one phobia likely have others too. (Forbes-Allison Van Dusen, 12.14.06, 12:01 AM ET)

Now these are common personal fears, but what about how those translate into the business environment? It is this writer’s opinion that the most common fear is ‘losing control.’ Years of project management and organizational observations edify this perception and it shows up most commonly as micro-management or the feeling that you have to ‘do it all.’ The lack of trust in the leadership/management team diminishes their ability to perform. Oftentimes the opportunity to develop a strong management team never appears because of the ‘energy’ of the leader/owner/CEO. How are you ‘controlling’ those around you? Do you carry unspoken and unfulfilled expectations of your cohorts? What are they?

The answers to the latter questions are the first things you need to put on the table. The expectations and questions that evolve from the discussion will literally set you free inside. That may be uncomfortable at first because you’ve never done it before, never allowed yourself to be vulnerable in sharing for fear that you might hurt someone’s feelings maybe. Or you think you might have expectations that are too high. If you never voice them, how can you expect any kind of commitment to them? Can you match them with your own expectations of your personal performance? Oh my…. you might fail. You might make mistakes.

What is interesting is the anxiety-driven decision-making process is obviously not the best practice for management, let alone for the survival of the company. The mental constructs for the organizational development often don’t see the need for making sense common – jobarchy – the job/project is the boss and everyone wins. The ‘anxious’ feeling is often misinterpreted and mismanaged in the ‘flow’ of optimal experience. Quite serendipitously engaged, this same feeling often is the same as the ‘creative spirit’ showing up in consciousness. It actually shows up in the body’s sensations first.

Now, there is a choice when the feeling shows up. Anxiety results in being afraid, angry, ignorant and immobile in the process of making sense common and providing good leadership decisions. The paradox is that same feeling opens the door to change, of doing things more congruent with flow only the experience is lacking validation because of past choices. The challenge to change appears and invites participation. Is the perception of control that important when it stifles the possibilities for growth and escalation of revenue?

People naturally want to do the right thing right when supported in the workplace, whatever the function. Happy people get more done in less time with less supervision and often reduce costs with value engineering choices that better use resources, both human and material. As a leader, you have to be vulnerable. The paradox of being vulnerable is that it allows the inner strengths of your team to emerge. Your business SWOTT has just taken and evo-leap with the new skill set capacity for application you’ve invited to the party.

Let’s look briefly at what others have said about this process. Peter Senge states, “Learning disabilities are tragic in children, but they are fatal in organizations. Because of them, few corporations live even half as long as a person – most die before they reach the age of forty.” The anxiety model keeps you from execution, the most critical part of leadership. Larry Bossidy writes, “Many people regard execution as detail work that’s beneath the dignity of a business leader. That’s wrong. To the contrary, it’s a leader’s most important job.”

NOW is the most important time you can engage as a leader. The desire for control takes you out of the present moment because it does two things that divides your attention. First, you think of past failures and undesirable results. Next, you move into some future view of mixed-messages that craft an equally dismal result if certain things don’t happen. How is that effective management? You’ve got the team, right? So let them go and do what you’ve hired them to do, just make sure they’ve got the resources to execute your plans.

Your strategic planning needs to have the buy-in from all your team, your organization cannot perform well when the plan is nebulous or without specific action items assigned to each component of the plan. Years of facilitating projects, from community events to multi-million dollar product lines, public events and construction projects have demonstrated that clear codes of ethics, mission statements, goals with objectives, issue resolution action procedures and work breakdown structures with a schedule make for smoothing out the bumps in the road to success. Let go of your fears and ask for help from your team.

For entrepreneurs this process is a little different because you need the help of outside resources. The critical needs are addressed in your business plan, a flexible document that is your roadmap to success. If you don’t have one, it’s hard to manage the details and the desire for control is exacerbated because all the details are in your head or loosely detailed in notes or charts around your workspace. Take the time to craft a plan, put your business on the path it deserves so that you can solicit help to achieve your dream. If you need help, that’s where people like me come in to take your full color dream and help you turn it into a black and white system for execution.

If you do have a plan, share it. You’d be surprised how the natural law of attraction can draw the people you need to execute it. There are a growing number of organizations with helpful people that can provide classes and workshops, office space and networking opportunities that can energize your passion and purpose in achieving your dream, too. Check out The Vault in Colorado for a great model.