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What Are You Afraid Of…?

Schools are beginning to return (in Scotland), without much heed to what has been going on across the past few months it seems and speaking to some friends who are teachers, they feel ‘disposable’, uncared for and afraid.

I notice that I have low level anxiety when I am out in public, when people walk too close to me, don’t observe social distancing, slip their mask down from their nose in the shops (or off altogether) … these times have made me fearful. And it’s got me thinking about the word fear and what it means. What am I actually scared of?

Ignorance, hate, bullying, persecution, assumed power, oppression, atrocious actions … these are some of the things I fear … because when these things are in action it appears to blinker people to humanity, to otherness, to possibility, to connection and I am deeply saddened by that.

FEAR – it casts all sorts of spells in our minds of darkness, ghouls and hauntedness however, I have thought of a way to bring more positivity to this simple, four letter word:

F – fathom (the reality) E – earn (respect) A – act (responsibly) R – restore (faith)

F – fathom (the reality)

Let me speak about a matter close to my heart, just by way of example. As a gay woman, I am a huge supporter of LBGTQ+ rights and equality. Who I chose to share a bed with, in the privacy of my own home, does not, in any way, impact on others around me. Neither does it impede my intelligence, my ability to enter into dialogue with others, my sense of fairness, my support of all rights, my ability to see the need for balance – this list could go on, you get the picture though I’m sure. I consider myself to be a reasonably sound character who brings her professionalism and experience to bear in her work and life.

I am perplexed and troubled by the uprising of extreme right wing ‘leaders’ (I use this term loosely here!) who espouse hate and disregard for LBGTQ+ (and black and brown lives, indigenous peoples’, and impoverished peoples’ rights, etc). It seems to me that the further towards wisdom we should be travelling (as a human race) the further away wisdom gets.

I can only assume that this hate, this vilification comes from a place of absolute fear of the unknown … so when faced with not knowing let’s ask people to practice FATHOMING – to actually understand the reality of what is being faced – how is this thing, that I don’t know or understand, actually going to affect me personally, if at all?

E – earn (respect)

Most of these ‘leaders’ don’t take time to earn respect either. They assume power … and rule by fear (wheedling in the psyche of the vulnerable of the ignorant (at best), naïve (at worst) folk stoking their internal fear fires…).

So, let’s make certain when we take on positions of leadership we earn the respect of those we lead creating space for people to voice their fears and supporting them to be informed fully on everything that matters to make the best and most appropriate choices.

A – act (responsibly)

The dictionary definition of this word is: In a sensible or trustworthy manner; in a way that relates to duty or responsibility.

To me then, it stands to reason that in all walks of life humans would act responsibly, and yet we don’t. I’m sure I don’t often, and I’m know people with assumed and ‘real’ power don’t – I witness it daily through the media (who also don’t!).

Leadership, true leadership that is, is absolutely about acting responsibly, in the best interests of everyone we lead; paying attention to the ripples we cause through our actions – locally, nationally and internationally (this can be interpreted either literally – in some cases – or metaphorically). With each step we take, check the imprint we leave…

R – restore (faith)

And finally, P-L-E-A-S-E can we begin to restore. I mean restore everything – our humanity, our breathing rooms (forests), the care of our environment more broadly, our wildlife, our community, our social responsibility, our focus on wellbeing (rather than pure wealth. I’m as capitalist as the next person in business, however, I also have a real sense of treating people fairly and realistically see that when we burn people out, we lose our ability to be wealthy anyway – so let’s get this balance right). And in doing so restore faith in the goodness of the World or equality, possibility, connection and the power of the collective (noticing that divisiveness breeds weakness in the whole system) …

Let’s reframe FEAR to something more positive – together … are you in?

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Posted on Wed, August 19, 2020 in General Leadership Personal Development
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