FACING YOUR FEARS
I have been critically thinking through my interactions this year, 2019. It has been a bittersweet experience for myself and many of the people I have encountered in speaking engagements and coaching sessions. One thing that has been common with all of us is FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of being called names, fear of rejection, fear of being perceived as different, fear of being left behind or simply the fear of not making it. As CEOs and business leaders, we have deep-seated fears — of looking ridiculous, losing social status, speaking up, and much, much more. While globally therapists have seen the numbers and frequency of visits to their therapy rooms increase, it still remains a fact that very few executives talk about their fears or even admit they exist.
Our fears can change our lives for the worse. They can spur defensive behaviours that undermine how we go about our business; it can negatively influence the kinds of business decisions we make and how we execute company strategy.
Given the current global business challenges, a lot of businesses have seen many ups and downs. This has taken a drastic toll on the mental health and stability of many business leaders and especially entrepreneurs. To get an in-depth understanding of how deep rooted this issue is, I will share below with you results of a survey conducted by Roger Jones.
Roger Jones of the Harvard Business Review took a survey of 116 CEOs and other Executives. His findings were on executives’ fears and their impact in the boardroom:
The biggest fear is being found to be incompetent, also known as the “imposter syndrome.” This fear diminishes their confidence and undermines relationships with other executives.
- Their other most common fears, in descending order, are underachieving, which can sometimes make them take bad risks to overcompensate; appearing too vulnerable; being politically attacked by colleagues, which causes them to be mistrustful and overcautious; and appearing foolish, which limits their ability to speak up or have honest conversations.
- About 60% said those first three fears affected behaviours on their executive team, although 95% said that executive team members had a very limited view of their own fears. About two-thirds believed they had “some” self-awareness.
- The five top fears resulted in these dysfunctional behaviors: a lack of honest conversations, too much political game playing, silo thinking, lack of ownership and follow-through, and tolerating bad behaviors.
- Asked to think about the fallout from those dysfunctional behaviors, the executives mentioned more than 500 consequences. Those mentioned most frequently were poor decision-making, focusing on survival rather than growth, inducing bad behavior at the next level down, and failing to act unless there’s a crisis.
We have a choice to move from the concept of fear to the concept of freedom of choice. As Entrepreneurs and Business Executives, we battle with fear day in day out. There are a million reasons to fear and more often than not, we are doing everything not to lose our relevance and our position in our business or other areas of importance to us; even in our love lives. The powerful thing is that you can turn that fear to freedom knowing that you have a choice! You have a choice to fear and a choice to liberate yourself! We do not need to push ourselves into distractive activities just so we do not fear. We need to be kind to ourselves and take it a step at a time.
When you are afraid and you feel like you do not deserve good things, when the fear makes you feel like an imposter, you must remind yourself of how valuable YOU are! You are your own asset! No matter what you lose or gain, you always have yourself. Start reminding yourself of the many things you have been great at and are still great at. Remind yourself of the great business deals you have brokered. Look back at the number of lives you have impacted and continue to impact! It is all within you; the power, the will and the value you seek so much.
- Recognize the Fear
The first point to tackle your fear is to be aware of your fear and the detrimental consequences it may have on yourself, those around you and your business. It is about time that organizations value emotional intelligence as a key executive attribute. Speaking your truth and addressing your vulnerabilities will open up other sides to you so you can focus on your accomplishments and help you believe you are worthy. If you are in doubt about who to speak to, write your most ridiculous beliefs, your most terrible thoughts and your biggest fraud! Exposing yourself is a good way of creating a saner perspective.
- Get to the Root
Recognize that the way you feel has a deeper cause than what you are expressing on the surface. An example from Medical News Today cites that children who are told that they are superior in intellect, talent, appearance, and personality may also develop fear of not being enough. You need to address what is shaking your self-esteem and why you have that inner voice invading your confidence in yourself. With understanding comes a possible solution for you to combat this syndrome head on and live your best life.
3. Stay Positive
The battle of the mind is a tough one to fight, but with the right practices, you can control your thoughts and the way you feel about yourself. We have a tendency to dwell on the criticisms rather than the victories. “Once you’re aware of the phenomenon, you can combat your own imposter syndrome by collecting and revisiting positive feedback,” Cox says. Making a concentrated effort to listen to and reflect on words of encouragement can help sooth anxieties the next time self-doubt pops up.
- Set Expectations You Know You Can Achieve
If you still cannot shake the feeling of fear via the previous steps, then set yourself up to succeed regardless of how you are feeling. For example, you might set the expectation that you are looking to fail quickly so that everyone can learn from the experience. That way, you no longer fear failure and instead are proactively looking to learn from any and all mistakes that you make. It also frees you up to be upfront about any mistake made and removes the stigma from making one in the first place. (Forbes)
Your ability to be self- aware of your thoughts and actions, and renew your mindset is the first big step to take. You may fail sometimes, but you will also rise up and follow through with persistent affirmations and actions. Fears and dysfunctional behaviors will always influence human beings, from the playground to the boardroom. Other factors – such as deadlines, competitors and economic downturns – will also create pressures on a company’s top team. But executives and chief human resources officers need to look at the deep-seated private fears that may be eroding the executive team’s dynamics and company performance. (Harvard Business
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.