When we’re under the hypnosis of our own fear, we can’t move ourselves into a state of calm. In fear, we exist in a state of fight or flight that clouds vision and leads to poor decision making. It can cause avoidance, ignoring problems staring right at us, and even pushing away the things we need to attend to most.
We may seek ways to minimize issues, seek gratification or hollow pleasure, or convince ourselves that there isn’t truly a problem… But our actions (and inactions) affect others.
I asked my daughter what it means to be in this state, and we kept coming back to the word “fragile” – breakable. This delicate state leaves us open to reactionary decision making, inaction, and remaining closed off to opportunity for growth.
So, what’s the opposite? Anti-fragile.
To be leaders, we need to be anti-fragile… But how do we create anti-fragility fitness? And why do we need it?
…Because modern life requires resilience. How we hold space is perhaps the most needed leadership skill (along with listening) in the 21st century playbook.
Anti-fragility fitness is how we position ourselves to thrive in the midst of uncertainty and mystery, where learning from them as they emerge becomes possible by showing up… And our attention becomes our property once more.
We know that the world can be unpredictable. We won’t always know what’s coming next, and existing in the realm of uncertainty can be the source of fear. We get distracted from our purpose by doubt.
So, to bolster anti-fragility fitness, there are 6 domains of concern that we’ll be tackling in this series:
- Change Management
- Stress Management
- Earnings Management
- Relationship Management
- Business Management
- Financial Management
In this first installment, we’ll look at Change Management.
Managing change is all about being mindful, present, and focused. To do this, we need four essential capacities.
1. Suspend Judgment
In our current world of information overload, it’s easier than ever to make inaccurate assumptions and predictions based on partial data, our own biases, and the desire to control.
However, when we can suspend judgment and accept things as they truly are, we become more open to the changes happening around us.
If we can stop all the automatic “mind stuff” and receive information from a place of curiosity and acceptance, the fear of uncertainty dissipates.
It is a choice to accept things as they are… To accept people for where they are, not where we want them to be. Not only is this an act of honesty, it’s also an act of respect. This is emotional, not intellectual. It comes from the heart.
By using our hearts in this way, we can let go of cynicism and get outside of our own bubble. We can sense what people need, how they are suffering, and how their perceptions are different from our own.
By listening to different voices, from different backgrounds and places around the world, we better understand the legitimacy of experience. This open-hearted, open-minded state of being creates resilience and anti-fragility because we know that change and difference are nothing to be feared.
In presence, actively aware of the moment in space and time we’re in, we also find wholeness. In a state of wholeness, we cannot be harmed by change or uncertainty, and there’s nothing to fear.
We can act from within this sense of wholeness, and sense where it’s ready to expand. In this way, we have the opportunity to ask who we want to be, how we want to be there for others, and how we want to accept the changes that emerge with tranquility.
4. Voice What Matters
When we voice what matters to us, what presents itself to us, we give it validation and make it real. When we notice and name it, we begin the process of making it true. This is speaking your presence, your acceptance, and your suspension of judgment into reality. It is also claiming your expectations (or lack of them), instead of letting your mind make them up for you.
Taking control in this way is an act of defiant anti-fragility.
And so, these capacities for suspension, acceptance, presence, and voicing are critical for managing change as it arises. They allow you to let go of fear and welcome in something new.
The closer you are to truth, to your authentic feelings (supported by an open heart), the better you can manage change. You begin to see change not as something happening TO you, but as something happening FOR you. Show up, accept what comes, and respect it enough to see without criticism or judgment. Move into change without fear and without attachment to the outcome. We come to know the path by walking it. In the next installment, we’ll take a closer look at stress management.