It’s nearly fifty years ago that Neil Armstrong left his boot print in the surface of the moon. What an amazing feat of courage! imagine his enormous sense of achievement, coupled with the continual nagging doubts that if anything went wrong, he and the rest of the crew were a quarter of a million miles from the nearest help!
In 1981, Astronaut John Young summed it up when asked if he was nervous making the first Space Shuttle Flight, he replied, “Anyone who sits on top of the largest Hydrogen-Oxygen fuelled system in the world, knowing they are going to light the bottom, and doesn’t get a little worried, does not fully understand the situation.”
And yet they still stepped up, overcame their fear and went on to make history and their successors continue to do so.
The Fear of the unknown
In this article, I want to pick up on the fear element, that fear of the unknown, because many of us face it too. Every day, executives, managers, parents and workers have a conversation with that little voice inside their head – nagging them to, “Stay in the light”, “Don’t do it because it will turn into a disaster”, or, “You’ll be sorry!”.
How many people do you know who do something and then say afterwards, “I don’t know why I just didn’t do it earlier?”
Often our biggest fear is the fear of being judged and found unworthy, being shunned by a peer group, being labelled as stupid or just simply being excluded.
These days, we live in a busy society – and our roles are frequently described as being high pressure which contributes to understandable feelings of alienation, inadequacy and loneliness. Such feelings can lead to withdrawal and even depression. These symptoms are often observed in combat roles – the British military have talked about the loneliness of command since before Admiral Nelson’s day.
Their solution is the provision of a solid organisational support structure right down to pairing individuals as buddies in the form of a buddy-buddy system. The idea being that whenever you get into a tough situation, you have a buddy and you look out for each other, egging each other on to achieve the mission. Pilots have a wingman, snipers have their spotter and senior officers have their aide-de-camp.
How do you overcome such fears?
When we view the world through the lens of fear, we develop protective habits which turn us away from others rather than seeking support from them. The act of interaction with others, the sharing of thoughts, concerns and ideas stimulates responses. Try to focus on the positive elements and set clear positive objectives which you should share with your team.
If you are a manager or an executive with doubts and concerns about your performance and how it will be received by your teams, build a positive support structure and find yourself an executive coach.
Don’t procrastinate, take action – remember, No action means nothing changes and you will remain where you are while the rest of the world moves on.
If you want to know more, give me a call. I am Mike Jackson, Director of Coaching for ELEV8.
Who employs a coach? Winners do!!