It was late at night and I was still working.
I was tired, it had been a long day, and I was overwhelmed.
I parachuted in on my developer to make sure he was working efficiently.
I asked a lot of direct questions to see how things were going. Usually, it’s a friendly check-in to strengthen the team member, but tonight was different.
My brevity probably came across a little too strong.
After that conversation, I went on a walk, and then returned only to apologize to my developer about my behavior and explain that I was stressed. I don’t like doing that.
What was really going on?
There are deeper reasons that explain why I did what I did.
I was overworked, afraid about the future success of our business, and tired.
I was leading my life, and consequently, my team, with fear.
Fear that I did not have enough time.
Fear that we might fail.
Fear that we might not be moving fast enough, or smart enough, or efficient enough, in the right direction.
Fear that I needed to spend more time working because time was scarce and more time meant higher odds of success.
Now is a good time to talk about fear.
Fear is a very human characteristic.
And sometimes, it could be a good thing.
In the earlier days of our species, when we fought in tribes, fear helped keep us alive.
Fear has a funny side effect, though... it prevents connection.
And at HX Works, we believe that HX, or the human experience, is about connection.
Connection with self, connection within the mind, and connection to others.
When we’re fearful, we cannot think beyond the fear, because it takes us back to survival mode.
What does fear look like?
Think about these scenarios...
Symptom: Working too much.
Root fear: Fear of not enough time.
Symptom: Trying too hard to lead the “right way.”
Root fear: Fear of not being enough to lead.
Root fear: Fear of an employee/partner not doing their best.
Symptom: Lying, not being truthful, false praise.
Root fear: Fear of disconnection from others (shame).
Symptom: Needing help but not asking for it.
Root fear: Fear of what others will think if you ask for help.
Symptom: On-going chaos, insatiable desire for more, unhealthy habits.
Root fear: Fear of not being enough (shame).
Symptom: Anxiety over business succeeding.
Root fear: Fear of trusting in self to pivot as necessary with business.
Symptom: Poor health, poor relationships with family/friends, addictive behavior, depression.
Root fear: Subconsciously and strongly mixing behavior/work with identity (shame).
In each of these scenarios, fear prevents us from connection.
Strong connection to self results in high self-awareness.
Strong connection with others results in the ability to be empathetic.
Strong connection results in true clarity, not subjective (fearful) clarity (or lack thereof).
Connection means everything from connection within the brain, to truly connecting to the present moment.
Why is this conversation important?
When you do not understand the effects of fear, you're not cautious, proactive, or intentional... and that can cause you to live an undesirable legacy. At HX Works, we do what we do for legacy. Legacy is our why.
The side effects of being filled with fear
The above examples are the side effects of fear for the CEO, or the founder, or the entrepreneur, or the leader.
But this insight is about legacy.
And legacy is not completely about you.
Legacy is about the people you affect.
Family, friends, the world.
When leaders lead with fear, they project their fear, and they prevent connection of the people around them.
When I micromanage my developer because I am stressed, I stunt his growth.
I stunt his growth because I project my stress, and I prevent him from creating healthy connection. Connection within his brain, to connection with his family, to connection with his existence of life.
When I lead with fear, I project that fear onto others, and that fear in others prevents them from thinking critically, or creatively, or objectively... because they’re stuck in survival mode.
When I lead with fear, I prevent true connections between my team and their families.
When I lead with fear, I prevent a deeper connection between my team and their existence.
Leading is not about the leader.
Leading is about legacy.
Leading is about how the leader affects.
What does trust look like?
If fear prevents connection, then trust creates connection.
Trust is a very real part of our humanity.
Simon Sinek, a thought leader in leadership, has correlated oxytocin as the chemical in the brain that is released when we trust. Trust is core to our biology.
When a leader trusts, it looks like this...
A leader trusts others say what they mean and mean what they say.
A leader isn’t so concerned about competition (often fear-based), they’re concerned about their customer, and they trust in their ability to care for their customer.
A leader respects and trusts first, because to earn trust, it requires you extend trust.
A leader trusts their customers.
When you trust, you create opportunity for connection, which allows those around you to connect better.
When you trust, you project trust, and that results in people trusting themselves.
Do you know how you lead?
If you’re not sure how you lead, ask those around you. If they’re in tune, they should know.
You can also learn about this through reflection, meditation, and distancing yourself.
Understanding how you lead, and aligning with what you want when leading, takes effort. If fear lies within our basic animal-like instinct, then trusting takes effort and intentionality.
How to lead with trust
As a CEO, leading others with trust does not begin with others.
Leading with trust begins with self.
It begins with how you trust yourself.
And like most things, trust is a muscle.
The more frequently you reach your goals, small and large, the greater you are able to trust yourself.
When you become aware of this, you can implement systems to remind yourself to trust.
Ask yourself this question, “Am I leading with trust or fear?”
Ask yourself that question habitually.
It’s either conscious, or it’s not.
Ask yourself on a daily walk.
Ask yourself at a red light.
Ask yourself when you get in your car.
Build systems and routines that help you live your legacy.
Surround yourself with people who lead a life with trust.
Cut off connections in your life to things that provoke fear.
Cut off the news.
Spend less time with people who project fear.
Embody trust and understand that it is a muscle that must be strengthened.
And remember, leading your life, and leading others, is about living your legacy.
Legacy gives context to the present.
Do you want to lead better? Learn about our introspective experience.