I have been back for two weeks from the conference. It was thought provoking and stimulating. At the conference there was a display that allowed conference attendees to express their biggest fear on a rock and carry it around for a day to feel its weight. The next day as conference attendees placed their rocks on the display, I was moved by the comments of anxiety and fear. Reflecting on the what I saw helped me realize this emotion is ever present in all of us.
Questions that came up for me were:
- What causes someone to be anxious or fearful?
- What is their story? How has it shaped their core-identity?
- What are the deepest fears that prevent us from leading the life we want to lead?
- How can we overcome our fears and lead the life we desire?
Our fears and anxieties are largely developed during our early years. We all have core beliefs that shape who we are and how we do things. As a leadership coach working with executives, I find there are three prominent character types that expresses this emotion in all of us.
- Fear of rejection, not being liked or being included. I call these Heart and compliers types.
- Fear of not having things figured out, not being smart enough. I call these Head and protecting types.
- Fear of failure, lack of achievement and goal accomplishment. This is mine and I call these Will and controlling types.
Each of us has a unique blend of all three, but one is usually primary. Each type organizes its personality around basic energies, strengths and gifts. They are expressed from an outer game perspective (dependent on what others think and feel about us) instead of an inner game (how I feel about myself is not dependent on others but on my core beliefs, purpose and values).
As I go deeper into each of the three types, remember they have their origin in our unique personal story. It is important to think about and understand our formative years and our upbringing. The people who shaped us and how we were acknowledged and recognized for getting things done, being smart and having things figured out, and our ability to connect with others.
- Fear of rejection, not being liked or being included. (Heart and compliers types)
These types feel “I am OK if I have strong relational bonds and others like, love and accept me”. These types move towards others and their strength is to establish relationships with people. If they are rejected or don’t belong to a group they feel shame and rejection. These types are relational and that is their gift. Their self-worth depends on others liking, loving and accepting them.
The limitations for them is they give up too much power, avoid conflict, rarely take risks, and find it difficult to make decisions especially if the decision impacts how others will see them.
- Fear of not having things figured out, not being smart enough. (Head and protecting types)
These types move away from others in a rational analytical and aloof way. They form their character structure around their gift of their intellect. They are usually intellectually brilliant and rational. They have things figured out. They seek knowledge and truth. They remain in their head and provide rational explanations of what is going on around them. Their self-worth is dependent on others seeing them as smart, knowledgeable and superior. These types feel “I am OK if I am smart, self-sufficient, superior and above it all and can find fault in others’ thinking”. Their gift is they are smart and have things figured out. Their strengths are remaining composed and rational amid chaos and conflict, analyzing what is going on from a safe, rational and distant place by providing brilliant analysis of the situation.
The limitations for them is that they play from the neck up. They are often experienced as cold, distant, over analytical, critical and arrogant. Relationship building can be a struggle. They constantly ask for more information and data to get things figured out. Decision making can take more time with these types.
- Fear of failure, lack of achievement and goal accomplishment. (Will and controlling types)
These types move against others. They compete in order to triumph over others. Anything that gets in their way of them accomplishing their goals will be dealt with. These types take power and use it to move forward. Their core strength and gift is their inner drive to make things happen and get results. Their core belief is: “I am OK if I am the one who gets results”. Failure is not an option for them.
The limitation is taking up power at the expense of others and seeing others as a resource to be used to get things done. Therefore, they tend to leave a lot of bodies in their wake.
They have a difficult time delegating, developing real teamwork, mentoring others because trusting others with results risks failure.
What weighs you down? For me it as the fear of failure. As a young boy in my formative years, I was recognized for what I achieved in school and sports. This helped to shape my identity and drove me to succeed and receive praise from others.
I never realized that my strength of getting results would also be my greatest limitation until I received my first 360 feedback thirty years ago. I was fortunate to work with a leadership coach to help me develop my sense of purpose and values; understand my gifts and limitations; and how I could lead in a way that produced results that empowered and engaged others.
Fear and anxiety are always present in our lives. It takes courage to reflect and become aware of what fears and anxieties drive you. Being conscious of your fears enables you to address them in a more productive way. Don’t let fear and anxiety control you. Manage and control it and lead a life that is focused on your core beliefs and values and not dependent on what others think of you. By doing so you will soar.