How to Find the Power to Step into Anxiety
Confidence isn’t the absence of anxiety.
Confidence is the ability to step into anxiety and see what good might result.
Where does confidence to face anxiety come from?
You’re anxious when you have tough conversations.
Anxiety dreads disapproval. What if you fail? What if you look stupid?
Remember the first meeting you led? Your voice trembled, but you stepped into anxiety.
Power to step into anxiety:
Optimists make better decisions and display greater self-control. (Journal of Financial Economics)
Optimism, in moderate amounts, is the belief that positive outcomes are probable. Blind optimism is detrimental because it believes the future will take care of itself.
You instill confidence in others when you help them believe they can make a positive difference.
Confidence is a function of connection.
A mentor bolsters confidence by sharing experience, explaining skills, and providing safety to explore.
You dare to row when someone grabs an oar and rows with you.
Nietzsche, the atheist philosopher, said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Purpose provides a reason to step into anxiety. What’s the point of stepping into anxiety if there’s no purpose for your leadership?
The fear of failure motivates leaders to confront failure.
You’re afraid of losing the respect of colleagues, friends, and family, so you step into anxiety.
Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter recalls, “When Twitter was just starting out, our biggest challenge was friends and colleagues telling us this is not useful. We overcame that challenge because we found joy in our work.
When you love what you do, when you are what I call emotionally invested in your work then you can overcome almost any challenge with ease.” (Conscious Capitalism)
Note: Joy is the source of grit, not willpower.
Where does the power to step into anxiety come from?
How might leaders build confidence into others?
IGNORE YOUR FEELINGS – ENJOY YOUR FEELINGS – (Leadership Freak)
In my experience “The fear of failure motivates leaders to avoid doing things or delegate them to people they can scapegoat when they go wrong”
Thanks Mitch. Yes, I see that also. On the other hand, I recall many times when the fear of failure drove me to prepare with diligence and work late to achieve goals.
It’s not the most noble thing. But just a reality.
I agree that there’s a potential dark side.
Where does the power to step into anxiety come from? From you beliefs, from your beginnings, from your background, from your failures along the way, from your drive, from your passion, from your humility. All those aspects which sometimes take years to develop purpose your confidence on the challenges that you face. With that imbedded confidence you can step into what others see as anxiety but you see as opportunities.
Thanks Roger. It seems that our story is a source of confidence. It depends on the meaning we make from the story, but I really like where you took this. It’s helpful.
My dad was a guy who worked to get things done. That lives in me and gives me confidence.
Character, true character that has a known, definable foundation brings great strength to step into anxiety. Before stepping into we need to be as a first respnder – “are own well being is above all else, be smart enough to see the clues, is this safe”. Good post, Dan.
Thanks Scott. Know who you are. Plus, a track-record of stepping into anxiety come to mind when you use the term character.
Perhaps taking on small challenges is part of this.
I believe that out of all of the above listed factors: Optimism, Purpose, Fear, Joy — the one that specifically needs an outside component is Others. If you don’t have support and a sense that the powers that be are working with you, and not against you — the better part of valor may be to find the more positive culture. That’s what makes our leadership roles so important: what we do impacts so many, in so many ways. It doesn’t mean the people you support won’t be anxious to do well in your eyes (and we in the eyes of our supervisors) — but as long as everyone feels supported and sees we’re all working towards the same positive goals together — we’ve done all we can.
Thanks Mary Ellen. The belief that leadership has your back is a huge component of confidence. It’s pretty hard to have confidence in highly political environments.
Any leader who sacrifices others for self-interest isn’t worthy of leadership, but they are out there.
Great reminder that leaders have the opportunity to support others.
Interesting, informative post. I think you touch on several aspects of anxiety from a leadership perspective. . But, I think, based on my own experience, anxiety encompasses more than fear of failure and absence of motivation. Enjoyed reading your insights. Thanks for sharing.
The power to step into anxiety may be easily said to come from experience but, if you are experienced handling uncomfortable situations are you really that anxious to begin with? I think what really motivates us to push through is external motivators. Logically it’s safe to assume that if someone has no real reason to go out and mingle with strangers they’d probably stay home. Something must motivate them. However, when it comes to truly stepping out of your comfort zone you must feel that the fear of failure you face now is worth enduring. Why is it worth enduring? Perhaps your job is on the line, or the person you have worked to become and image you have fought to develop is on the line. Maybe you are more anxious about what your leaders might think of you than you are what the people in the present anxious situation might think. Sometimes I wonder if it is one level of anxiety in competition with a greater level and we just have to decide. This can lead to burn out. Can you imagine? Constantly stressed out on choosing the lesser of two evils.
You ask, “How might leaders build confidence into others?” I think the confidence building happens when although a person is anxious, they persevere, but a leader must nurture that skill. A leader needs to teach his followers to believe that no matter what happens he will be there on the other side with them.
I enjoyed reading your piece. I am a realist therefore I always look at everything through the lens of reality. There are situations in the workplace that will cause high-levels of anxiety. Employees are terminated and laid-off. The death of an employee can/will occur. A soldier on the front lines of a battlefield is no doubt scared to death. A police officer running into the hostile line of fire is no doubt scared to death. A fireman rushing into a burning building is no doubt scared to death. American culture leans toward “sensationalizing life.” There are dark and gloomy matters that arise in the workplace. The workplace is a part of life. The workplace is not always filled with roses and cotton candy. That is just reality and along with that reality a mountain of anxieties to face. You will not find a magical pill or magical solution that will make your anxiety vanish into thin air. You will not find a book written on the market that can help you deal with your anxiety. It is something that you must face while living on this planet. Each new day bring will bring a brand new challenge. There is a positive side to your fears. The more you are challenged the more you develop, grow, and evolve your consciousness. Then you will begin to raise your level of awareness. Higher order thinking takes a leaders mind to a whole new level. Which can lead to self-knowledge. Or has the ancients said, “Man know thyself.”
Leaders must learn how to “overcome” all forms of fear. I see anxiety as a form of fear. A quote comes to mind, “Face your fears. Why? Your biggest fear is your greatest strength in disguise.”