In my coaching practice, I find that many successful people have the same wish: to have very few doubts, fears and/or pain. Quite often I am asked if the coaching can make these go away. And we are talking about generally well-functioning people here.
However, they have a desire to make ALL hard times go away, and every time they experience difficulties they feel like they are failing. They feel, as though everything should be smooth, otherwise they must be doing something wrong.
For many leaders this also means that they have never expressed the doubts, fears and negative feelings that they are sharing in the coaching room. Not only have they not shared them with each other, they haven’t shared them with anyone at all.
The problem here is that doubt, fear and pain are a natural part of being human. They are warning signs, and will result in negative consequences if you consistently ignore them. Numerous scientific studies have shown that being stressed out is only the beginning; if you continue to ignore these signs, you can eventually become physically ill. When you as a successful leader do not share these feelings, you end up creating an ideal that permits no doubt, fear or pain.
As long as you do not indulge in complaining and blaming, doubt, fear and pain are usually valuable pieces of information about a need for change.
Thus, it is not a matter of making these feelings go away, but rather turning the information into a tool to be used for your personal development. In fact much leadership unfolds extraordinarily during crisis – be it small or large. In my experience, the greater the doubt, fear or pain, the greater the potential is for personal development.
The next time you feel doubt, fear or pain, you’ll need curiosity and courage to investigate what information is hidden beneath. Instead of blaming and complaining and/or trying to fix it right away, get curious. Ask yourself: are there any of my needs and/or values that I am compromising to an extent that is not meaningful?
When you have the courage to be curious you will be more clear-headed and you will be able to find a way forward that is meaningful and aligned with your personal values. It might not always be the easiest way, but it will be aligned with your personal values and your needs and thus meaningful to all in the long run.
In this way doubt, fear and pain are a lever for your personal development as a leader.
Also, I will encourage you to start sharing these feelings little by little. I can assure you that we all have them. But the successful leaders I meet are often very busy trying to hide these feelings, and this is the way we all end up with an ideal that permits no doubt, fear or pain.
Even when you are curious, you may not find all of the answers and necessary actions right away, but be patient and trust in what you find. Through this patience and trust you will find the clarity you need to decide on which actions to take.
In short – When you feel doubt, fear or pain use:
1. Curiosity and patience – Are there any of my needs and/or values that are compromised? – Trust what you find.
2. Dialog – Who would be able to stay curious with me about these fears and doubts?
3. Action – What can I do to get my needs and/or values fulfilled?
Good luck sharing your curiosity