Overcoming Fear to Grow

By Paul David Walker, CEO of Genius Stone Partners

Each insight is a flash of seeing into the true nature of things, and leads to another, providing you act on the first; if you don’t, the spark dies, and an opportunity is missed. Being in “the zone,” simply described, is one insight after another acted upon in the flow of cause and effect. It is like dancing in perfect harmony with a band. Dancing to the rhythm and flow of the moment brings out our soul’s calling and our natural genius, both of which have yearned to be expressed most of our lives.

As insight expands it can create momentum and turn into a compelling vortex that draws energy like a giant storm draws air. There is an attraction that brings in all manner of opportunities as people, near and far, see a familiar intent and join an energy field that feels like their tribe; like going home again.

The key to creating a chain response of insights is our ability to act in the moment before the flash of insight fades. A professional athlete has the muscle memory from years of practice in a given sport to respond in this manner. But can business teams do the same? Why not? Most have years of experience in their business. It is a matter of practicing the art of connecting insight to action as a basketball player responding during the flow of the game. A team of athletes has to practice so that when opportunity presents itself, it is ready to act as a team in a fast break. Likewise a business team needs to do the same. This is the kind of team that wins.

Fight or Flight Syndrome

On the other hand, when we are fearful, we move into “Fight or Flight.” This will be engaged when we are attacked on the street as well as when we feel threatened in a conversation. Our ego does not seem to know the difference. Any threat throws us into this syndrome automatically. It is a primal instinct that as been very useful to our survival ever since we lived in tribes.

What happens when we are in “fight or flight” is our blood runs from our internal organs to our arms and legs to give us power to run or fight. Additionally, our consciousness narrows to focus on the threat. So instead of being in “the zone,” as described above, the opposite occurs. Tribal warfare erupts and the wisdom of the team is lost.

As they are often threatened, police officers train at least twice a month on the firing range and in other ways mainly because of this syndrome. Given this primal instinct they and their weapons become dangerous. They have to work hard to overcome this primal instinct, to enforce the law in a constitutional manner. The people who live in underprivileged inner cities who are often exposed to random violence find themselves
in “fight or flight” constantly.

Experts have tested children as young 7 years old and find they suffer from PTSD. Police officers trying to enforce the law, in neighborhoods full of people who are hyper-vigilant easily snap into fight or flight, is a deadly combination. How productive would your team be if they were exposed to constant threat?

Insight Drives Results

An insight is a combination of two or more ideas merging to create a reality previously unknown, vs. two or more personal realities needing to be right while being fearful. One has an expansive, curious, and inclusive feeling. The observer and the observed becoming one to uncover new realities, paths, and understandings. Fear creates just the opposite effect.

Fight or flight combined with another primal instinct the “need to be right,” can create “tribal warfare” with your company or team. Imagine a team of people who feel threatened and have a deep need to be right trying to solve business problems together. Only with practice do we learn to manage our primal instincts, but do not underestimate the tricks our egos can play on us.

Stimulate Insight And Action, Not Fights

Leaders have to work to inspire people to exceed their own expectations without putting members of the team into fight or flight. A company only grows as fast as those leading the company. Great teams question the status quo, and collaborate to understand new realities, then act on solutions that lead to manifestation. Yet most people feel threatened by change, so it is imperative that leaders manage the state of mind of themselves and the team. One of the CEO’s I work with, Celso Pierre of Goodridge Americas, developed the following values for his team to facilitate growth.

We Work Together To …

• Bring a sense of possibility beyond the status quo
• Examine possibilities until solutions emerge
• Align our intentions to drive solutions

As this example illustrates, a clear and compelling picture of the desired state is important. It is an aspirational statement that provides an understanding and a draw towards the ideal. A picture of a common goal creates insight as we succeed or fail that is self-correcting in a positive manner. Insights that uncover hidden realities that are successfully acted upon create engagement. The purpose is for you and/or your team, as observer of the ideal, to become one with it, then create a new ideal. Since a leader must confront old ideas to grow, this takes practice and skill.

The assumption that fuels insight is understanding that there is no limit to what we can create together. As an individual, I find that if I capture insights as they occur, not letting them fade, and take action, even deeper insights emerge. To facilitate this I always have my journal at hand to capture, understand and expand insights before the clarity fades. I allow time in my schedule to reflect.

So when I work with a team I set a safe context to avoid fight or flight, while asking people to reflect on new ideas before acting. Likewise a team should have time as individuals to reflect in a safe environment with the purpose of discovering “possibility beyond the status quo.” Business leaders who make this a priority tend to lead their sectors.

The Habit of Reflection

After a success it is easy for us to fall back into old patterns and primal behaviors, as individuals and teams. So it is important that personal, professional and business growth is the default setting. Insight into the true nature of things followed by action invents futures that provide strategic advantage. To win consistently we have to teach each other, and those that follow us, how to create a state of mind around insight that is similar to athletes “in the zone.” Each time I learn something my state of mind is lifted and I become committed to new levels of action. The same is true with teams. When creating insight is a natural habit, higher states of mind will drive intent and performance at all levels.

Paul David Walker, CEO & Founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include Star Kist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century.  You can reach Paul at pauldavidwalker@geniusstone.com or call him at 562-233-7861.

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