How to lead with curiosity, not fear

Who wants to admit they made the wrong decision, picked the wrong partner or said the wrong thing? Even though we make hundreds of decisions each week, many of us work to avoid the unwanted emotions associated with a misstep. 

A few weeks ago, I encountered a big misstep, which triggered many emotions. With an overwhelming desire to avoid the uncomfortable truth, I felt my body reacting to the situation with a wave of embarrassment, followed by nausea.  

Can you think of a time where something did not go as you had planned? How did you react? Did you have an outburst of anger or frustration? How did your body respond to the situation?

Many of us disguise a misstep by wrapping it in anxiety, frustration or rage that can stem from embarrassment, fear or uncertainty. Even with these deflection mechanisms, the underlying feelings can be all consuming and make many of us feel incredibly vulnerable.

In “Brené Brown: The Call to Courage,” on Netflix, she states, “Vulnerability is not about losing, it is about showing up when you can’t control the outcome.” 

Some of us deal with vulnerability, a state of being exposed, by the stories we tell ourselves as to why we are right or how blame belongs elsewhere. Sure it is easy to hide or belittle others to cope with our fears of not being good enough, but notable leaders start from the inside out.

Mindfulness and mediation are taking leadership by storm with articles on Forbes.com such as “How Mindfulness Can Make You a Better Manager,” by Victor Lipman, and “Don’t Let Stress Have the Upper Hand: Take Back Control with an Empowered Mindset,” by Naz Beheshti.

With more self-awareness, reactions to these unlikely situations evolve as your mindfulness practice matures. Old leadership styles seem to align more with protecting your ego and supporting your position. This updated approach allows you to take a step back, shut the office door, quiet your mind and seek your inner mentor before determining any immediate actions. If assistance is needed, play a YouTube mindful meditation to ground and realign your energy for productive interactions and conversations.

When you have a misstep, ask yourself:

  •   What do I need to learn from this situation?
  •   Why am I feeling embarrassed, fearful or uncertain?
  •   What am I telling myself to undermine my self-worth?

Think about the times you are set off in an undesirable direction. 

  •   What takes you there?
  •   How do you feel about yourself? 
  •   How long does it take you to get back to a healthy and positive state of mind?

Mindfulness and meditation practices have brought forward leadership techniques to consciously separate from fear-based stories, allowing the space to seek the lessons and perspective to lead from a space of gratitude, not fear. 

Takeaway: Every event in our life has a lesson or reflection of our current state. How are you responding?

JJ DiGeronimo is president at Tech Savvy Women