I have a client who I deeply admire and respect. She is smart, strategic, insightful, caring and super savvy. While at a meeting with her recently, she shared with me an incident from her past that had been bothering her. It was a career-related decision that she made over 20 years ago that she still regrets today.
I was surprised to hear that something she decided so long ago still bothers her today. On the outside, she looks so “together” and confident. Yet, on the inside she harbors fears and regrets that hold her back.
This situation reminded me that we are all human. We all have fears, worries, concerns and regrets. Even those executives that many of us look up to and admire, have doubts or worries that ultimately hold them back or cause them unnecessary stress.
One of the reasons leadership can be so challenging is that we have to manage people and the insecurities, fears and beliefs that they bring to work.
Here is my three-step approach for managing these fears so that people can be more productive:
- Recognize that we are all human and having fears is normal
- Help the person to realize that their fears are not real. They are probably just creating a “false story” in their mind
- Help the person to remove the fear and replace the “false story” with facts
For example, I had a client tell me that he was nervous about a meeting that his manager booked with him on Monday morning.
Here is how I used the three-step process to help him.
Step 1: I acknowledged that having fears is normal
Step 2: I asked him what stories he is telling himself about the situation. He replied by saying that maybe he will be getting fired as his sales numbers have been down this quarter.
Step 3: I asked him to replace his fears with facts. He said that his manager recently gave him a new client to manage. Also, his manager asked him to speak at a team off-site in April. There were several other facts that did not point to him being fired.
My client felt much better once he was able to release this “false story” and replace it with facts. He emailed me on Monday to confirm that he was not fired! In fact, his boss wanted to include him in a recruiting interview and wanted to share some information with him.
We all tell ourselves stories that are not true or hold us back.
What “false stories” are you telling yourself right now?
What facts can you replace them with to feel better about the situation and more empowered moving forward?