“Don’t be a Fred”. By now we are used to the different Southern Virginia dialect, so when our minister was reading one of the most prominent phrases in the Bible, we knew what he meant. Sorta. “Fear NOT” is one of those phrases that is like everything I do now – Simple, but not Easy. In the face of Continuous Change, most of which may NOT be of our own making, how do we engage Courage over Fear? I can’t solve this, but I believe it is something worth engaging in…
… I have always been a glass half full person – and we could go into why that might be, but for now, if you read these and know me, you know that reframing things comes second nature. Phrases like “What could possibly go wrong”, or “It’s All Good” flow out in ways that are rarely helpful 😉 The pain and fear in those I work with is real, and I have at least developed a much deeper understanding of what that looks like, and a few ideas on how to engage with the opposite of fear: Courage, or a corporate word, Confidence.
As Anysley left the band, a new drummer who was as talented and capable was needed, and luckily available. Steve Smith grew up with drums from the age of 2, and started taking lessons almost as early, from a drummer in the big bands in the early ’60s near Boston. He played in high school like the other members of Journey, but really had a much deeper formal training with a few years at Berklee College of Music there.
Like Anysley, Steve is ranked as one of the top drummers in history, and he brought the same tight bottom end to Journey as it accelerated up the charts. But imagine stepping into a tight band that was already on it’s way up the charts? Reproducing the sounds that have already become familiar, and yet being able to add your own distinct approach? It is not unlike what happens in teams when you step in as the Change Agent from last week, and see some things that could be “improved” the Courage to speak up is balanced with the Fear of not understanding the full context…
Our bodies are designed with fear in mind – and much is being discovered about the depths of those connections. The brain is triggered by events, and you probably have heard of the “fight or flight” responses, along with the equally debilitating “freeze”. Faced with something unexpected, our “natural” response is to pick one of those, and get good at it. Growing up small and bright has always been my deepest story, so I would add the one I would become the best at to that list – a different F word – Fun.
The paradox of laughing in the face of Fear sounds trite, but it worked for me… and as we discussed last week, Change rarely happens when things work. So when sitting in a conference room one day with a whole room full of really afraid people, my inner voice spoke up and reversed what was being said. Instead of “No one knows how to help us”, I changed it in my mind to “Someone somewhere knows who can help us”. With a simple positive shift, THAT person came to mind, and the rest turned out to be history. We started to turn the corner into steps we COULD engage, and the Courage we needed to stop simply being afraid.
It sounds way easier here than it actually was, and there are many stories about fear and Courage from that season I will share this week. But for today, think about your own response to events, and how you can engage your own practice of inversion – literally turning the negative thoughts, emotions, and most importantly, words into a different framing. I was actually starting to write this week about Fear – but I knew that was too negative. So I was lazy and said – Afraid. No – model what you are talking about. It is really Courage that needs our focus, and the Confidence that comes from engaging that. It is a habit worth building and one that happens Just The Same Way.