In times of uncertainty (isn’t that all the time?) it’s useful to balance fear with compassion.
Notice why you do what you do. You may be surprised how often fear is your motivator. Fear of not being endorsed, of not having good career options, of pissing somebody off, of being stuck doing work that’s boring, of being part of a losing team, of not being realistic about what you want, of not being satisfied, of not being a good provider, the list goes on.
Many high-achieving executives needlessly suffer because they fear scarcity. There will not be enough. They won’t do enough, make enough, or be enough. The fear that they are not enough is beneath all fears. It’s an insidious belief that is part of the lens through which they view the world. They become convinced there’s not enough money, fame, supporters, jobs, time, excitement, stuff. They then project their lack onto others who they see as not being enough. If they’re unable to support themselves and be self-compassionate, they assume others won’t support them and will be critical of them, not to mention their voracious appetite for others’ validation.
Who Are You?
Convinced they are not enough, high-achievers set out to prove themselves worthy. This is like using Google Maps and putting in “unhappiness” as the destination. Realizing your potential and being happy will never come from fearing you are not enough. The essential ingredient for happiness and greatness is compassion. Compassion for who you are and radical self-acceptance for what it took to get here. Dissolving unproductive or limiting fear requires knowing who you are beyond your reputation, role, money, accomplishments, friends, and references. Compassion is the seed of self-esteem and grounded leadership. When you are compassionate, you see there are infinite possibilities and that in the midst of uncertainty, pain and judgment, there is a you that has always been there and will always be there. A you that reflects the sum total of all your wins, losses, flubs, and moments of brilliance. When you get to know this you, what’s not to love?
What would the world be like if we all believed we had nothing to prove, lose or fear? If we believed there is enough and that we are all enough? What would happen to our relationships? I want to work and live in this kind of world. I want to be inspired by magnanimous leaders instead of being frightened by self-indulgent ones. Don’t you?
Dancing with Fear
You can’t effectively relate to your fear if you don’t acknowledge its existence. Fear is part of being human and part of feeling alive. It can be a great ally, but not when it arises out of thoughts of lack or self-criticism. That’s the fear that arises when you are confused about who you are. This fear can change only when you make a different choice about the meaning you make of the world. What practice keeps you mindful of the truth of who you are?
When you choose to use a lens of compassion you choose to be open to more possibilities, synchronicities and adventure. What do you have to lose by being compassionate? Any downside case you make for being compassionate will reveal what you struggle to let go of. Whatever you have to lose by being compassionate you never needed in the first place.
You have much to offer to a world where there is no scarcity, only infinite possibilities. Tapping this abundance starts and ends by being magnanimous to yourself.