Archive for the ‘ Fear ’ Category

Boldness Be Your Friend

The past couple years for me have been nothing short of a bold adventure dotted with opportunities, seen and unseen, to face my fears. Head on. And I don’t regret a second of it. I previously earned the nickname “safety cat” (a light-hearted play on “scared-y-cat”), but I have learned to embrace a maxim put forth by the great playwright and poet:

Boldness

Fear is such a primal force. It does funny things to the brain. Fear works its way into the psyche and hijacks all reason and logic. It can be gripping and paralyzing, or rousing and electrifying. It can prevent you from thinking clearly and cause you to react without will or succumb to danger. When I was younger, I had a terrifying recurring dream when distressed that I was drowning in deep water. Dozens of times I have watched myself in this nightmare desperately struggling at the water’s surface but slowly sinking into a murky abyss. It was absolutely horrifying, every single time. Every once in a while, when I’m swimming around in fear surrounding some new challenge or perceived barrier, it sneaks in again and haunts my slumber. Naturally I’ve developed an irrational fear of being in deep water and therefore, I have never been comfortable in the ocean. Drowning is a powerful image of fear, so imagine my reaction when my brother approached me about getting scuba dive certified on vacation in the Virgin Islands! Knowing that he also harbored some anxiety around the idea of breathing from an air tank underwater, and not wanting to discourage him from challenging his own fears, I agreed to do it. I managed to say something like, “that would be fun for us to do together,” while in the background my brain was completely freaking out!

Fear2

Fear is such a primal force, but it is not absolute. Although the brain’s course of translating fear-inducing sensory information into a behavioral response is largely an unconscious process, neuroscience has shown that we can learn new ways of reacting to fear-inducing stimuli. So how did I do it? Well, it was basically a matter of diving right in! I chose to be bold.

My brother and I signed up for the PADI Open Water Diver certification course, affiliated with a reputable dive shop in St. Thomas, and completed our e-learning modules. Then there we were on day one, all geared up with BCDs, tanks and regulators, and ready to begin the confined water dive skills portion of our training, and my brain started freaking out again. “All you have to do is breathe through your mouth and everything will be fine,” I told myself. “That’s crazy, you can’t breathe underwater, don’t do it,” my brain fought back with me. With my heart pounding, I submerged and instantly hated it. “Go back to the surface and rip your mask off so you can breathe through your nose like normal,” my brain shouted at me. “Just try to take slower, deeper, more controlled inhales and exhales,” my yoga teacher self told my brain. My chest was tight and I felt like I couldn’t get enough air no matter how hard I tried. “I’m suffocating…This is horrible…I hate this,” my brain cried out in panic. I struggled through the entire morning, dreading the impending open-water dives that afternoon.

”Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” – Helen Keller

Facing your fear is often about taking calculated risks and learning how to handle them. I chose to override my instinct to give up on diving, but my internal argument continued during the boat ride out to our first dive spot. “50 feet down is a long way…What if your regulator doesn’t work and you suffocate? What if you can’t clear your mask and you breathe in some water and choke on it? This is really scary. You don’t have to do this,” my brain tried to convince me. “Look here, amygdala, you’re not winning this time,” I answered back. Standing on the edge of the platform at the boat’s stern and heeding my brother’s advice from earlier that day, I rehearsed what was going to happen. “Walk yourself through it,” he said, so I reminded myself that I was in control and I stepped out into the ocean. We carefully made our first descent to the ocean’s floor and began our first underwater exploration!

Sarah

Diving_SarahWhat a mystical experience it was to be floating freely through the abyss, not struggling and fearful, but literally and figuratively buoyant. I fell in love with diving that day! More importantly, I gained an enormous sense of confidence in my ability to overcome the greatest obstacle to pursuing my dreams: fear.

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How many times have you allowed fear to speak louder than reason or passion and missed an opportunity to challenge yourself and take a chance on growth in your personal or professional life? No one is immune from fear and it serves its purpose in warning us of potential threat, but it need not hold you back. You can still explore, try new things, step into the unknown, and know that you are in control even if you’re anxious. You can likely recount your own vivid tale of standing at the edge of whatever it is you were afraid to do, then taking that giant leap forward and feeling the rush of pure joy and pride afterwards. Revel in those moments and soak in the strength of resilience that you build when you do choose to face your fears. The first step is choosing to do it. The next step is going out and doing it. Share your stories below.

Boldness be your friend!

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” -Dale Carnegie

About the Author:

Sarah is a Professional Services Intern at The Ken Blanchard Companies. She is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Consulting Psychology and her research is based on mindfulness. You can reach her at sarah.maxwell@kenblanchard.com.

Leadership is a Matter of Life and Death

The room fell silent as the stranger with an interesting accent introduced himself, and his wife. “Ve have taken zee time off from da revolution, to come to United States to learn about effective leadership.” The details of the current struggles in Ukraine were brought to life through first hand accounts of recent tragedies and fears that have been unfolding over the past few months in an unstable region of the world.Pro-European protests in Ukraine

Our guest was no ordinary learner. Usually we have a room full of individuals and students eager to learn how to become effective leaders. Individuals who choose to sit in a classroom, accept assignments, and eagerly collaborate with managers, teachers, and coaches, while exploring ways they can help their communities grow and thrive.

This day, we had a group of participants from the incredibly fragile nation in the world who was in desperate need of a different leadership. One that our group had not grown up with or have been experiencing the last decade—a model that empowers individuals to freely choose to influence others toward a greater good, through manipulation and intimidation.

As we listened with sober minds to our new friends struggle for leadership concepts that work, we explored the impacts of good and bad leadership on the local communities, organizations, and the world. As we did, we discovered the timeless challenges that have faced individuals trying to influence others toward freedom and independence. We explored skills and habits that encourage and inspire effective collaboration and communication that draws out the best in everyone, directing them toward a common vision and good.

“For us, leadership is not a nice to have,” our brave learner concluded at the end of our training day. “For us…it is a matter of life and death!”

The reality is that no nation or organization is exempt from the root characteristics of ineffective, poor, or in some cases, ruthless and unethical leadership. Great organizations and individuals place a high premium on, and appreciation for, effective leadership. Without effective leadership, things fall apart.

About the Author:

About the Author:

 Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, at lynda.com.

 

Be the Gazelle

There is much to admire about the gazelle. She is a beautiful creature—delicate and graceful yet agile, fast and resilient. What makes her truly remarkable is her unique ability in response to a life-threatening situation to literally just shake it off. You’ve probably seen a similar National Geographic video: a gazelle is grazing with the herd when she suddenly becomes the target of a ravenous cheetah’s hunt. One second she’s foraging and the next she’s running for her life. Instantly her heart is pounding and adrenaline is racing through her veins as survival instincts take over. Watching this scene you can’t help but think, “this is NOT going to end well,” but the cheetah unexpectedly gives up. When the gazelle realizes she’s no longer being chased, she slows to a halt and waits to ensure that she is safe. Then something incredible happens: she starts shaking and quickly her entire body erupts into convulsion. Her nervous system is physically discharging the excess energy and arousal that it no longer needs. Soon she’s bounding off across the plain…time to get back to the herd.

Image

Have you ever had an experience in which you were faced with some kind of threat (physical or psychological) and as fear creeps in, you start trembling uncontrollably? I will never forget the moment when this happened to me two years ago. I was faced with an absolutely overwhelming situation that I didn’t know how to handle and suddenly it started–I began shaking and I couldn’t stop! It’s a very strange sensation. I felt completely helpless until I realized what was happening and thought to myself, “yes, be the gazelle.”

Self-leadership is predicated on self-preservation and it comes down to being adaptive. We must be keen to what’s happening around us and prepared to react appropriately to any trial. Evolution has made it difficult for humans to simply shake off the physical and emotional effects of trauma, but we all have the innate capacity to organically restore our own inner balance. Absorbed negative energy can be detrimental to our health, making us inefficient and more vulnerable to future stress.

What are you holding onto that’s preventing you from returning to the herd? What is keeping you in place, at risk, or in peril? Life is tough. You never know if a cheetah is lurking in the bushes waiting to attack. The next time something confronts you, terrifies you, or chases you to the point of exhaustion, don’t just collapse and surrender. Get back up and shake it off! Let go of whatever you’re carrying around that no longer serves you. Shake off the fear of failure, the anxiety of the unknown, the soreness of the sprint, the ordeal of a near miss. Don’t let a setback paralyze you. Shake it off and move on.

In the midst of challenge it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty before us. Look to the horizon…the sun is still shining and the grass is still growing across the plain, so get back out there and enjoy it! Be the gazelle.

About the Author:

Sarah is a Professional Services Intern at The Ken Blanchard Companies. She is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Consulting Psychology and her research is based on the study of mindfulness. You can contact her at sarah.maxwell@kenblanchard.com.

Overcoming the odds

My dad and I after the surgery

About 5 years ago my father was diagnosed with liver cancer. He was a heavy drinker in his younger days and his cirrhosis compounded his medical issues. Over these 5 years he has gone through chemotherapy, radiation, and a litany of drugs to stabilize his liver. 9 months ago he was finally cancer-free and was then able to be on the transplant list for a new liver. A few weeks ago we received a call that a new liver came in and he needed to be at the hospital as soon as he could. My dad said he felt strange about it and had mixed emotions about the process. “How can I live because someone else has died?” I can’t imagine the competing values he had to deal with. The surgery went better than expected and the transplant was successful.  When the doctor pulled the liver out he said he didn’t know how my dad was still alive. He barely had a few inches left of a functioning liver.

What’s different about dad now than before his surgery is his zeal for life. He has always been a very happy and positive person, but something has changed for him. He told me the other day on the phone that he has “a second chance at life.” It got me thinking. What if I lived like I had a second chance at life? How much happier and productive could I be if I lived like this? So go out and make the best of everything. You never know how much you can accomplish with the right mindset

“The Happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.”

Who Do You Trust?

If you’re an avid YouTuber, you might have heard of ze frank (listed under the channel zefrank1).    I personally know of him for his “educational” videos on animal species mixed with his colorful commentary.  Even if you’ve never heard of him, before, you may have heard of BuzzFeed, where ze frank is also the Executive VP of Video.

He’s posted a video to his channel on the topic of trust using two performers from Cirque du Soleil.  This video is more of an artistic and emotional look at what trust really is, but in the end, asks this simple question: “Who do you trust?”

This also leads to another question: “Do people see you as trust-worthy?”

If you haven’t, already, be sure to take a look at the TrustWorks model which breaks down 4 main characteristics of trust.  Also, be sure to take a look at one of our sister-blogs at www.LeadingWithTrust.com for regular tips on building trust as well as leading others.

Leave your comments!

Stop Trying to Find Yourself—Start Being Yourself

Stop It!

Stop It!

Whether you’re in the early stages of your career or a tenured vet of the workforce, there is a constant tension between who you are at work and who “they” want you to be at work. This conflict has been an endless source of business and self-help books designed to help avert the anxiety of pleasing your managers and executives within your organization.

The tension and sleepless nights about the future of your career can be fatiguing and overwhelming at times. The best piece of advise ever given in the quest of trying to improve yourself, improve your workflow, improve your standing within the organization, is found in two very ordinary words.

“Stop it!”

Don’t be caught in the half-light of what your friends, your family, your boss, your organization thinks you should be—start aspiring to be who you already are deep down inside.

Excellence at work or in life is more than a thought or an idea, it is a purpose driven effort. Make your choices wiser and more productive this year through high intentions, sincere effort, and intelligent execution of those efforts. Live the life you intend to live!

 Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, a lynda.com and Ken Blanchard Companies production.

How to Manage your Competing Values

In the spring of 2010, I received a phone call from my commanding officer. “Jaramillo, you have been selected to a deployment in Afghanistan for 400 days. I don’t know what you will be doing or what unit you will be with, but I trust that you will have a successful mission and that you will make us all proud.”

Ok, whoa! Can I get a little more detail here?

I wanted to serve my country and go to war, but, I mValuesean, do I have to go now… like, right now? I had just gotten married 3 months earlier and was working on my graduate degree. I had no plans at the time to pack up and go. “Hey boss, look, I’m a little busy right now, can we move this war thing later on in my calendar.” Of course, it doesn’t work like that, but I still had these two strong competing values. In this instance, I wanted to go to serve my country, but my family and school were also very important to me. We all have competing values, and we must understand them and embrace their complexity. What I needed to do was figure out how I would internalize these feelings and contain my emotions through this experience.

What are your competing values? Take a minute to really ponder this question to understand your own thoughts and feelings. Really evaluating your competing values will help you to look at them objectively. Gather the facts in all scenarios to be open to exploring and doing a little soul searching. These competing values can come in all aspects of life, from relationships with friends and co-workers to grand theoretical and philosophical questions. It’s important to realize that they exist in our lives, so make sure you take some extra thought when you are confronted with one to be fully content with your decisions.

Gus is a Learning and Performance Professional at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is currently finishing his PhD in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Hanging out with the Pilgrims

I’m a big fan of pilgrims. I mean, they are pretty cool people (so I’ve heard), they have sweet outfits, and they love to party. What’s not to love? Because of them I get every Thanksgiving off to stuff my face, watch football, and hang out with my friends and family. I will be eternally grateful for my afternoon food comas. “Pilgrims, I say thank you.”

Also, I’m not sure why, but it seems like every family in America has Thanksgiving dinner between 2-3pm. I don’t know who made that rule, but I’d say we should do it every day.

So, today I would urge you to thank a pilgrim…

PilgrimJourney

Pilgrims come from all facets of life. They are not just the pilgrims that we think about that boarded that Mayflower and landed in the Americas in 1620. The pilgrims represented the ideal of progress. They were an adventurous, tough, and fearless group of people.   As you sit around and have dinner and talk with friends and family that you may not have seen in a while, stop and think about their pilgrimage. Where have they been? What have they endured? Where are they at? Where are they going? It’s quite remarkable when I sit down and think about some of the things my friends and family have endured. I say, “How did they do it?”

Life can be tough and really get you down, so take a second to reflect on those challenges that you have had on your life. I bet if you truly thought about it for a little bit, you would surprise yourself at all of the things you have endured and accomplished in your life. Take it easy on yourself from time to time, and maybe breathe a little bit.

You deserve it!

Gus is a Learning and Performance Professional at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is currently finishing his PhD in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

What Halloween and Bad Leadership have in Common

Part of what makes each company special is the ability to connect the whole organization together. Like many companies, Blanchard has a very special Halloween Party on their main campus and our team was V for Vendetta. Though we failed to win the team costume competition and lost to the “Walking Deadlines” in Product Development, I gotta hand it to them for pulling off the zombified cast of characters quite well; they hardly even broke character! As the chaos of the party was continuing, I had a few thoughts about the correlates of Halloween and bad leadership. 

V for Vendetta

Halloween Party

Here are a few points that Halloween and bad leadership have in common.

1) It’s Scary: If you have ever had a manger or boss that was not well-trained at the “leadership” part of their job, it’s quite a frightful experience. They tend to “mask” their leadership failures by “reconnecting” at lunch or praising their direct reports when their own boss is around. They put on a good show, but we all know it’s only temporary.

2) It’s more of a trick then a treat: Associates know when you are not being genuine and can tell really quickly when your behavior is fake. You may think your “trick” is better than your treat, but the joke is really on you. To best manage your employees, you have to understand them, develop them, and guide them to success. Every person is valuable and understanding that will help mold your relationships with your team.

3) The mask can stay: No need to take the scary mask off here; you’ve earned it. Yelling, belittling, or “under your breath” comments that are made at your team won’t compel them to trust you or work more efficiently

For those who have a great manager or leader, don’t hesitate to let them know. They like to know that they are doing a good job and contributing to your success.

 

My Vegas Story: Seize the Day, and Night!

At close to 10PM, the pilot announced that he would be making the final descent to Vegas, the city I had been to only once before for a brief amount of time. I peered down through the plane window and saw the beautifully lit strip, magnificent and thriving. And that kicked off an unforgettable 3 days and 2 nights at the HR Tech Conference earlier this week.

Las Vegas Welcome Sign

Welcome to Las Vegas

Go see the Cirque shows. Walk around inside the Bellagio. Most importantly, don’t stay in your hotel room! These recommendations from my coworkers bounced around inside my head as I went to my first session of the conference. Being new to HR and to workforce analytics, the information presented and conversations I had with people really highlighted just how much I didn’t know. And sure, this was quite unnerving because everyone around me seemed like they had it all figured out. But in another corner of my brain, I was absolutely thrilled. Here was an opportunity to absorb as much information as I could about a topic I hadn’t really been exposed to before, but was so critical to my work. So I made up my mind to learn as much as I could about the bright minds that made up the HR world.

And then there were the networking events. Wow. Reserving an entire lounge overlooking the strip for a night is definitely not cheap. Especially when there is an open bar. But somehow there were not just one, but two separate networking events that took place both nights I was there. Of course, I took advantage of these events and chatted with very interesting people while getting some good recommendations and advice.

But there was one thing I didn’t get to do. I didn’t step foot on the dance floor. And I generally love to dance. Perhaps it was the thought that I had previously that everyone around me had it figured out. Perhaps it was the lack of liquid courage in my body. Perhaps it was the reservation that I had built up after two girls had “propositioned” me on the strip and I had quickly, but politely, mentioned my girlfriend before taking my leave against their persistence. Whatever it was, as I approached the dance floor, something made me stop.

And when I left, I was filled with regret. The next day was only a half day for the conference and I was to fly out immediately afterwards, so this was my last chance to experience Vegas. I simply couldn’t bring myself to go back to my hotel room. Sure, it was past one in the morning and I was ready for bed, but come on, I was in Vegas! And then I remembered the recommendations. It was too late for a Cirque show, but the Bellagio! And with that, I started walking.

Las Vegas Strip

A view of the strip in Las Vegas

It took me almost 40 minutes to get there from the Mandalay Bay because I took my time and enjoyed the buildings. I mean, where else can you see large replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the New York City skyline in the same area? And when I got to the Bellagio, I was amazed at the hand-crafted colored glass pieces that hung from the ceiling. I even got to see the talking tree! Well, it didn’t talk while I stood in front of it, but it did move its eyes and blinked as it smiled. It was surreal.

By the time I got back, it was almost 3 in the morning. I was tired but happy. As I laid down in my bed, my mind drifted back home to San Diego. And I thought, what if I put myself in the shoes of a tourist every day? If I went everywhere with the same sense of wonder and curiosity? If I lived everyday like it was my last chance to experience where I was and what I was doing?

Mark Mayfield, one of the speakers at the conference, declared that everyone knows about perspectives A and B. But to take a unconventional and undiscovered third perspective can exercise one’s creativity and bring more humor and entertainment into one’s life. I wholeheartedly agree.

So have fun, take chances, and don’t ever let regret materialize. And if something ever stops you from walking onto the dance floor, I have just the thing. It’s a statement that I read in a magazine on the return flight: “The No. 1 antidote to fear is experience!”

 

 

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