Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

I invest a lot of time assisting people running businesses to do the right thing and to find the correct decisions for their company or organisation.  Often, to do this effectively, we need to reflect on our own practice.  Here is a thought for you on fear.

Have you been in this situation before? You are facing a dilemma and need to make a hard decision. Racing through your mind are all sorts of scenarios and distractions. A decision seems obvious, but something holds you back.  It could be that you’re racked with fear that people won’t like your decision. You might fear looking stupid. We fear that people may feel hurt, or that you might damage a friendship or a working relationship. Will making a decision be seen as me having got it wrong in the past?

So you compromise and make a decision that you think might keep the peace, or please everyone.  Or, worse still, you avoid making a decision at all.

Now, ask yourself this: what would I do if I had no fears?

Prolonged exposure to boardrooms, and listening to the war stories of respected directors, tells me that the above situation is not unheard of in the governance arena. But there can be no place for fear in decision-making for directors. They are charged with making decisions that are in the best interests of the company.  Importantly this requirement includes making decisions in the best interests of the company even if that is not in their own interest.
Directors are expected to make the tough call, and this can often be a daunting and difficult task.   But they cannot avoid their responsibility by ducking the hard decisions.

Perhaps the most valued asset that any director possesses is his or her reputation. Reputation risk is often discussed by directors, and an association with poor decisions and/or practices could damage that reputation. This provides a very strong motive for directors to ensure that they are making sound decisions that are in the best interest of the company. Best interest, of course, now goes beyond narrow interpretations of shareholder value, to ensuring that decisions enable the company to continue to trade in a sustainable manner, and reflect the needs and interests of staff, customers, and the wider community as well as shareholders.

But directors, like all people, are not immune to fear. They, however, may have a heightened responsibility to ensure that fear does not distort good decision-making. If we asked the question, “what would I do if I had no fears?”, then we could remove one major obstacle to the operation of sound judgement.

When you ask “what would I do if I had no fears?” then often the correct decision stares you in the face…your choice becomes clearer.

Want to learn more? I recently completed a program offered by the University of Lausanne through Coursera entitled, Unethical Decision-Making in Organisations.  Delivered by Guido Palazzo and Ulrich Hoffrage from the UL Business School, the course covered many topics, including the Enron story and Lehman Brothers collapse.  I would recommend the course to anyone interested in developing their decision making skills. I would particularly recommend it to anybody serving at Board or C-Suite level.

Amongst other things, the Lausanne course has helped me to re-appreciate the operation of fear, and particularly concerns about making decisions that might isolate you in work or social settings. The course also help be put in context the importance that leaders such as Field Marshal Bill Slim and Gen George Patton both applied to the advice “do not take the counsel of your fears”.  And the words of Max DePree: “Leaders stand alone, take the heat, bear the pain, tell the truth.”

High on the list of screens I will now apply to the difficult task of decision-making, especially at board level, will be to regularly ask myself: what would I do if I had no fears?

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My present activities include doing the Harold Jarche course on personal knowledge management, PKM in 40 days , and testing the concept of working out loud.

This is challenging, as the introvert in me pushes for this process to be internalised, and screams for a completing of the work before it is shared.  Small talk stresses me out, so the thought of working out load is scary.  It’s easier for me to talk about the complete picture, not the work in progress.  Working with people and in groups drains the energy from me.  I sense a loss of control over my thoughts…I am just not good at thinking out load.

So, working out loud in the social media might offer some great opportunities…I can put my ideas out in the hope that others can help improve them without…well, without having to be social.  Really? Well, it is really a different way to been social than the team meeting, or face-to-face, or the social gathering.

With social media, I can control the level of interaction and the pace of engagement.  I can create the space I need to recharge the batteries.

I guess I can still be social…work out load…and not raise my anxiety too much.

This will be (fun) (interesting) (scary) …..

See  more on working out loud here.

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Sometimes I am bemused by coincidences.  Having announced two days ago that I will be steeping down from my present job early next year, I was attracted to a brief mention of a blog post I would ordinarily have missed.  But, a post by The Savvy Intern by YouTern jumped out at me – a reminder that we should not fear rule your life or career.

Was it a coincidence?  I doubt it.  More likely the post had passed my sight, but I remained unconscious to it until this time when I was “prepared” for it.  

Some people are often described as lucky, because they “get the breaks” before others, or “they always seem to be in the right place at the right time”.  That’s not the way it happens – more often than not they will have been reflecting on what is happening around them, they will have thought deeply about what they want to do, and to achieve, they are looking for the breaks – so they see the opportunities more clearly and quicker than others.  That’s the essence of luck…been prepared so you can see the opportunities.  Are you ready?

And the blog itself…..  here is a snippet.

What fears are holding you back from going after the job or life, that you want? Being more concerned with what other people think about our choices or our actions, is strange – why would someone else’s internal thoughts be more important than honoring our own desires? It sounds odd when laid out like that, huh?

Read the full post here, it is good: Don’t Let Fear Rule your Life and Career   

I understand that Melissa Anzman (@mellymelanz) is the author of the post.  She has a great website on redefining your career.  Go and have a look at Loosen Your White Collar. Fall in Love with your Job (Again)  

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