I Learned about Leading from – being led by fear!

“I could find plenty of excuses for failure, but only one reason.  I had not chosen the bolder course of action.  I had taken counsel of my fears,” Field Marshall Bill Slim

fearI am not terribly political, but one of the things that really nags me at the present time is my perception that so many of the decisions and policies made by today’s world leaders are based on fear.  Maybe it has always been like that and my consciousness of it has changed, but the scare-mongering and the drive to for protectionism and separatism I find upsetting and unnecessary and it gets me thinking if there is another way to lead.

Many of you will have heard about my journey over the last 5 years or so with my then mentor Hazel, then an insight from Aaron Turner, that gave me a massive epiphany and an immediate transformation of how I see the world and how I show up.  I love the title of the book from Jack Pransky: “Somebody should’ve told us!” which really echoed my own feelings at this time about how life could’ve been so different if only I had “got it” so many years earlier!

Since this time, when I look back on my two decades in corporate life, I can see that I too was consumed with fear and scarcity, and I used this unwittingly to guide me both in business (leadership) and my personal life.

Typical stories in my head during these years were: -

    • There’s not enough money
    • There’s not enough time
    • I haven’t got enough people
    • They won’t like me
    • They’ve got a bigger office than me
    • They’ve got a bigger team than me
    • They’ve got a nicer car than me

…and various other similar thoughts.  I guess the corporate “leadership” way I had learned was to ramp the targets up, shorten the timelines, set ambitious goals and keep the pressure on myself and the team to deliver and, very often we did just that.  I got a reputation for rapid turnaround and success and that way of working became a bit addictive……and stressful!  But what was the message from “on high” being received?  Surely it was one of fear, scarcity and perhaps, sometimes, greed?  Why do we need to exceed every other organisation and every product in the field?  Yes, I get that competition can be fun, but surely by definition, as soon as there’s competition there’s scarcity?  There’s only one first place after all!

Fast forward 10+ years post corporate life and I hear myself saying to people: “I used to live in fear and scarcity but no longer, now I live mostly in love and abundance!” …and to be honest, most of the time I believe this and some of the time it is true.  But one of the things I keep noticing is how this “fear and scarcity” thing keeps rearing its ugly head in different ways and at different levels of consciousness in my life and psyche.  I’m not too sure I’ve ever “lost it” at all, more that I’m chasing it out through layers and layers of consciousness and influence, but it keeps popping up in ever more subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways in all walks of my life.  Let me explain…

I had a call recently with my current mentor, George, and was explaining to him how well the business was going this year together with the current challenges of getting our two major new initiatives off the ground simultaneously.  George probed and probed to get to the heart of my issue and honed in on my impatience.  I held my hands up in surrender as I admitted that yes, I was frustrated, I had been on this journey in my head and everything was taking so much longer than I would have liked and “when, when, when” will it all happen!  George then asked me what the rush was and where did the timelines come from.  Of course, it was all self-imposed stuff, partly borne out of habit (and corporate training) and partly (mostly!) from my impatient desire to finally bring to reality things I have developed in my head over months and years.

George then went on to show me, from my own experiences, how things flow effortlessly when they are meant to be.  That, maybe, there’s a time for everything, and when that time comes the right people and right opportunities show up in a most miraculous way.  As someone once said to me “there’s only pressure when there’s resistance” and sometimes that resistance is when we actively try to bring things forward that are not meant to be, yet.  Can you imagine how much success we would have trying to bring winter forwards?  George’s encouragement was to calm down, settle my impatience and keep pointing in the right direction and see what unfolds, effortlessly.  The immediate thing that happened after this call was a surprise email the next day to positively impact one of the initiatives and also my calmer mind has given me further clarity about both.

Why am I writing this blog?  

One of my reasons is to share my story so you can see that we humans all have similar experiences and thoughts, and all get caught up in believing that they are true.  Maybe we all are led by fear at certain times and love at others.  Maybe it is simply a balance thing.  Maybe it’s worth taking time to realise how our thinking makes things so.

With our consciousness of our self-created reality, from either impatience or blind acceptance of someone else’s desires, we can hopefully calm the snow globe of our mind and get into flow.  When we are calm and connected then we can watch, almost in independent observation, to how things collide and create the impossible in front of our eyes.

Thinking this is impossible?  Just look back at your greatest successes in life over the past 2-3 years.  How difficult did they feel at the time?  What “coincidences” conspired to help?  What happened to help that you could not have predicted and was not in your plan?

The key, for me, is to have a calm mind and be able to hear my wisdom and not the noise of my thinking.  Through this quiet inner wisdom we can always see the obvious path being presented to us at any one time.  It is ALWAYS there.  When I follow this, life feels effortless and flowing and the success that’s delivered can be positively overwhelming.  Yes it does take a leap of faith and most that I meet will never be prepared to take that, but for those that do the rewards in all aspects of their life can be truly miraculous and there is simply nothing better for me than helping people to see this alternative way and then share in their incredible success as their own walls that hold them back come tumbling down.  And do you know what?  There IS enough money, today.  There IS enough time, today.  There are enough people, to do what we need to do, today.  They DO like me….and the other 3 no longer concern me!  And as today is all we have, then that’s all fine and we can let tomorrow take care of itself.

Finally, let’s go back to that quote….

“I could find plenty of excuses for failure, but only one reason.  I had not chosen the bolder course of action.  I had taken counsel of my fears”, Field Marshall Bill Slim

…. surely there was rarely a better insight in how to lead our self, our team(s) and our business.  I cannot do anything about the world leaders, but I can change my own consciousness and behaviour.  After all, iTS Leadership!

~Antony Tinker

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