“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened,” noted the American writer Mark Twain. What worries are on your mind right now? These days, many people worry about many things, which is unsurprising given that we’re living in a fragile world economy that has been battered by other external shocks in the aftermath of a global pandemic. Sadly, a troubled mind full of worries, anxieties, and fears is too distressed to engage in more advanced creative thinking that might be helpful to overcome some of these very same concerns. Today, let’s spend some time on how to best take stock and deal with those doubts, worries, and fears that might at present weigh heavy on your mind.
What are global worries that concern many people?
Recent studies by McKinsey and Ipsos identified inflation as the number one issue worrying people globally. They also list other concerns often related to this primary worry or help drive it:
Rising inflation puts pressure on central banks worldwide to raise interest rates, effectively ending more than a decade of cheap money and enhancing financial pressures for indebted private households, corporates, and public institutions.
Geopolitical instability and conflicts are other major concerns. In particular, the war in Ukraine may drive many global economies into a recession, not to mention the senseless loss of life and the mounting dangers of a nuclear war escalation in the coming months.
The war in Ukraine has also led to high volatility in the global energy markets, with prices for gas and oil skyrocketing this year and the stability of energy supplies in the coming months put into question. Especially in Europe, many people worry about being unable to pay for rising energy costs on top of their usual household expenditures, thus fearing sitting in a cold room in the dark during the winter months.
While some countries have largely learned to live with the coronavirus, others still practice a zero-Covid regime out of worries about what a shift in strategy might mean for the unvaccinated or less effectively vaccinated parts of their population.
Given the massive levels of uncertainty in the world at the beginning of Q4.2022, one might ask: What’s not to worry about?
So why do I care about this topic now?
Two weeks ago, I started guiding a fresh cohort of learners through a new creative leadership course based on Genius Journey, the creative leadership development method I created for Thinkergy. I send creative leader candidates on a metaphorical journey where they visit ten destination stops, at each of which they learn about one disempowering mindset that limits their creative potential and one corresponding empowering mindset that unboxes their thinking and reconnects them to their creative flow channel.
After checking in, the candidates began their Genius Journey last week by visiting the foundational first destination stop. At Stop 1, they learn that we must stop our doubts, worries, and fears and become courageous, action-oriented, and persistent believers.
The willpower sequence belief-courage-action-persistence is the way to overcome our doubts, worries, and fears: Belief in yourself, your abilities and talents, the importance of your mission, and perhaps even being supported by some higher forces in your journey. This faith gives you the courage to take massive action. Once you’ve embarked on a project, you persist until you succeed.
But to achieve a true mindset shift here, it is critical that we first investigate our empowering and limiting beliefs (= otherwise called doubts) and also gain the upper hand over our worries and fears. Only then are we ready to move to the next level (and interim destination stop) of the journey, where we will have to confront our worst enemy.
How to confront our doubts, worries and fears?
Fear Capture, Fear Buster is the name of one of eight genius exercises to help you shift your mindset from negative to positive at the foundational first destination stop of your Genius Journey. The exercise invites you to acknowledge and confront your present doubts, worries, and fears to start dealing with and overcoming them. Gaining some control and mastery over your doubts, worries, and fears shows you a pathway out of the prison of your limiting mind and sets you free to unleash your full creative potential.
How exactly does this exercise work?
First, write down all your present doubts, worries and fears. What are you afraid of? What weighs heavily on your mind? For example, you might worry about inflation or rising interest rates, or you might be afraid of losing your job in the coming year as there are mounting signs we’re heading into a global recession.
Next, understand the source of each listed doubt, worry or fear. Ask: Why do I give energy to this thought? Why am I afraid of this? What’s the source of this doubt, worry or fear?
Then, dealing with each of the listed doubts, worries and fears in one of the following ways:
Look at this rationally. What are the odds of this really happening? What is the worst possible thing that would happen to you? And what would this mean? Then, choose to accept this worst-case scenario should it occur for real. Then, begin creating action steps to prevent it from happening.
For example, the likelihood of losing your job in a recession is lower than 10% in most organizations. If it happened to you, you would likely get a redundancy package that will help you bridge some time until the economy bounces back and new opportunities come in. To proactively prevent the worst outcome, you can approach your boss to ask her how she sees your performance. Then, consider volunteering to take on an important project or working extra hours to show your commitment to the team.
Confront it: “Always do what you fear,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested.
For example, some time ago, I came across a snake while running at speed on a trail run in Hong Kong (fortunately, we both survived the incident unharmed). Subsequently, as I have a healthy respect for snakes, I was wary of rerunning the same wilderness path, yet I forced myself to go through it again and again. Moreover, I went to a snake institute to learn more about these reptiles and their behaviors — and even touched some of them.
For example, if you’re afraid of speaking in public and giving presentations, join an organization like Toastmasters International that allows you to gradually develop your public speaking capabilities in a safe environment.
Share your worries with trusted mentors, close friends, and loved ones. How do they look at them from their point of view? Do they share them, or are they unconcerned? Openly exchange your viewpoints. Then, brainstorm ideas on how you might proactively deal with each issue.
Accept it as a natural part of life. No matter how hard we try, some aspects of life are beyond our control. While we can anticipate possible consequences and plan our countermoves, we have to deal with some situations as and when they occur. So if you like, write those fears beyond your control on a separate piece of paper. Then, burn it and let go of these worries outside your sphere of influence.
For example, no matter how much we worry about it, we cannot influence if an autocratic head of state decides in an irrational moment of delusion to launch a nuclear bomb to achieve a strategic advantage.
Believe. Silence your worries by having faith that, in the end, all will work out well. As the American entrepreneur and inventor Henry Ford put it: “I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about.” Likewise, the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi noted: “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.”
Whenever you notice you entertain the same limiting thought or worry, again and again, go back to this list and reread your counter strategy. Then, apply it and move on with your life.
Conclusion: Stop indulging your doubts and worries; have faith and courageously take action
Every once in a while, it’s a healthy move to take stock of one’s current doubts (=limiting beliefs), worries, and fears, and then explore how plausible and justified each listed point is before exploring how to deal with each concern most effectively. Given the current turbulences in the world and business, I also welcomed the opportunity of visiting destination stop 1 of the Genius Journey as the “tour guide” of my learners to also revisit the Fear Busters exercise for myself. I acknowledged some issues concerning my mind, then listed counter strategies to deal with those things worth my attention, and even began taking action on some of the most pressing items. Now, I can shift my focus again on my work and creations in line with the advice of the motivational author Roy T. Bennett: “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”
The title photo shows the article’s author testing out the “House of Horror” alone before taking a group of creative leader candidates there to experience what it means to bust one’s fears.
Genius Journey, Thinkergy’s creative leadership development method, discusses ten opposing mindset pairs that either limit or empower you to reconnect to your full creative potential. Check out this video to understand how the Genius Journey works.
Thinkergy offers experiential Genius Journey training courses (of one to three days) for companies. Also, we can compose a tailored, more extensive Genius Journey development program for a group of executives who are eager to rediscover their inner genius.
Contact us if we can support you in your aims to develop creative confidence and creative competence of your talents and to creatively empower your team, business unit, or company to succeed in this disruptive decade.