Leadership Matters: Stop Letting Fear Make Your Decisions

overlapping images of a young woman feeling sad and stressed sitting with head in hand and same young woman standing with arms raised in victory and happiness
Belma McCaffrey Photo

3 minutes

Two ways to start operating from a place of possibility right now

This article is reprinted with permission from the WorkBigger blog. Read the original post here.

I’ve been thinking about how fear and scarcity are deeply influential on our society. They’re everywhere: politics, business, the way we live our lives and how we make decisions around family or work.

For example, in business, I see leaders who make decisions that aren’t rooted in values or what’s most important to the company’s mission; instead, they make decisions to appease stakeholders or avoid professional failures.

I see people making big life decisions by choosing not to make a move or pursue a career because they want to avoid pain or discomfort.

I understand this. Fear is a powerful motivator, and for a long time, I thought if I leaned into the fear, I’d be more prepared for what could go wrong.

But creativity, innovation and problem-solving—key skills required to succeed in life and at work—happen when we keep an open mind to what’s possible, not when we operate from a fear mindset.

Fear is meant to protect you. It’s not meant to support you in reaching your full potential.

On the other hand, possibility allows you to tap into your potential. When you operate with the lens of potential, you naturally take more decisive actions, and the door is open for the things you want to happen.

I want to share with you two ways to start operating from a place of possibility right now.

Feel the Fear and Allow It

I observe clients who are in fear all the time. I can see this because they’re in their heads. They’re anxious and worried about their career path, and their minds are often racing.

“Should I apply to that job?”

“What if I make the move, and a few months in, I still feel disconnected from what I want?”

“What if I’m always changing jobs, and I’m never happy?”

“What if I have to take a pay cut, and I can’t pay the bills?”

Can you relate to this?

Imagine this is you. You’re going in circles trying to find a solution.

I understand that. A solution will give you a sense of certainty. But being in your mind with racing thoughts is also exhausting. And I promise you, it will not help you land on the right next step.

When I observe this with clients, I tell them to pause and to take a deep breath. Then, I have them settle their bodies and see if they can allow themselves to feel the fear and discomfort.

I ask them to then pinpoint where in their body they feel discomfort, fear or tension.

You can do this as well by asking yourself questions like:

  • How is the fear making you feel?
  • Where in your body do you experience that tension?

This exercise allows you to shift from anxious thinking to becoming an observer.

Ask Yourself a Different Question

After you allow the fear and become the observer of your thoughts, you can then reframe the way you’re speaking to yourself.

For example, if you’re in the midst of a career transition and you’re thinking about all the things that could go wrong, ask yourself: “What’s possible if I leave my job?” or “What opportunities will open up for me?”

These questions have a very different energy than “How will I figure this out?” or “Can I do this?”

Notice how one question opens up your mind while the other shuts it down.

Reframing will shift your mind from scarcity to possibility. Here are some powerful reframes to help you start.

Now I want to hear from you. How has fear shown up for you when making important decisions?

Belma McCaffrey is a career and leadership coach and CEO/founder of WorkBigger.

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