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Getting real about our fears will change our decisions

You are sitting around the table in a meeting, you believe there are problems that the group needs to discuss. The voice in your head is asking a series of questions. You are asking yourself why can’t these people see the problem as clearly as me; you are asking why can’t I seem to convince these people to understand my point of view. You decide to stop talking as you are concerned of putting others offside. Ironically, the others are sitting around the table saying why don’t I just speak up; another is saying I hope the questions don’t come my way; when can we move on.

Fast forward to the end of the meeting, as you walk out of the meeting you ask yourself why don’t I just speak up? Why do I get defensive? Why aren’t I prepared to change? Why do I shy away from making the hard decision? Why do I make up information to help support my story?

The simple answer is FEAR. Fear of humiliation, shame, failure, rejection, loss of connectedness, abandonment, loss of autonomy, death etc.

This is a scenario lived every day of people’s lives. What we are talking about is the fear people experience when they are being asked to talk about issues they believe are sensitive;  and or make decisions that will be difficult to implement.

I know some people will be thinking I do not fear anything; or, it is not fear that drives the behaviours noted above…its just not worth the effort as nothing is going to change anyway.

The reality is that everyone’s performance is impacted by their personal fears. The human brain has the inbuilt scanner that is designed to look for danger, and react when necessary. This function is commonly talked about as the “fight or flight reaction”.  Interestingly this function also contributes to enhanced encoding and consolidation of memory which helps explain why we are more likely to remember emotional events than we are others.

The question for all of us is, do we recognise we are reacting based on fear? And how good are we at managing and changing our fear based reactions?

Experts have made numerous suggestions on how to manage our fears, and as a result make better decisions.

We have found that by concentrating on the mindset we hold and taking responsibility for our decisions, we place ourselves in the best position to negate the negative impact of our fears. The process of getting real about our fears helps us change our mindset and perceptions, and as a result make better decisions.

To get real about our fears we use five principles, that when enacted together over time help reduce the impact of fears and static mindsets, and increase our ability to hold a growth mindset and make wise decisions.

The five performance principles are:

  1. Check your mindset to enable you to contribute effectively
  2. Preparation gets you ready to contribute to productively
  3. Questions reveal more than statements.
  4. You have to talk about it to maintain focus
  5. Time is limited so focus on the things that mater


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