We all worry about the future at times, and leaders are no exception. Some even hang onto it, believing it to be an effective motivator. Yet the positive results you achieve are in spite of—not because of—the strain and stress of your worries. When you notice yourself doing it, call it for what it is: counterproductive, nagging, self-inflicted negativity about an uncertain future. It typically can’t continue to drag you down when you catch yourself doing it and dismiss it. This simple “worry-management” practice will improve your outlook, and help you be a more effective leader.
Here’s a start:
- Clear the worry decks: Make a list of your current worries; ones that may nag you, pop up at times, or even impinge on your sense of peace outside of work.
- For each item on the list, jot down a sentence or two about the absolute “worst case”—what could happen if your fears are fully realized, AND a “realistic case”—what’s reasonably likely to happen, given the way things are going.
- Then turn your unproductive worry into problem-solving concern: imagine the “realistic case” yielding a very positive outcome. What do you need to start, change, or stop doing, and how should you amend your thinking, to give that outcome your full support?
- Once these plans are in place, the worries may continue to pop up to haunt you at times. Acknowledge and dismiss them—give them the rest of the day off.
Based on client experiences / lessons learned, our weekly LeaderTips have been offering self-coaching themes and topics of interest to leaders since 2004. They are often published in BusinessWeek Online, sent weekly to our clients, and hundreds of other corporate leaders worldwide. I invite you to forward them to others, who are also welcome to subscribe using the link below. Note that over 100 of these tips appear in my book, Beyond Effective: Practices in Self-aware Leadership. Click here to subscribe to LeaderTips via email.