Safety is an illusion and a great desire. The illusion of safety is that at any point in time we are free of risk. At work, there are so many uncontrollable factors that could impact our business. As leaders, we must have courage to take action by moving into uncomfortable and even emotionally charged situations. The key to navigating the unsafe emotional situation is to not judge the emotion. A developmental approach is to let the emotion exist and engage in understanding.
Dr. Susan David in the book “Emotional Agility” outlines this approach – “When we stop fighting what is, we can move on to efforts that will be more constructive and more rewarding.” As leaders, dig deeper into the emotion by naming the emotion – such as “anger” and find out why that emotion may exist.
A question / statement you could pose would be – “I noticed there is some anger around this topic. Why do you think this is so? What do we need to address to understand this better?” You may find that your team has a valid concern that needs to be resolved.
We live in the balance of uncertainty and certainty. There is ongoing tension between living in the safe zone and pushing for adventure and change. We were made to adventure, to be challenged and to push forward. At the same time, there is a part of us that often longs for things to never change and the status quo to remain the same.
Dr. Susan David outlines several dynamic tensions:
“Whelmed vs. Overwhelmed” – whelmed at it’s essence is challenge. Overwhelmed places us in the panic mode and stifles us from all action. I covered this concept in one of my Open Pivot Videos –
“Courage vs. Comfort” – Dr. David states that we can choose courage over comfort. “To keep growing, you need to be open to the unfamiliar, even the uncomfortable. And leaning in to your uncomfortable emotions allows you to learn from them.”
“Workable vs. Unworkable” – The workable choice is the one that is good for you at any point in time. The key is that the choice allows you to proceed closer to what you want to be. The unworkable choice is the one that stretches you too far into the panic mode.
“Depth vs. Breadth” – For us to grow, we must consider the depth and the breadth of our work. A great question from Emotional Agility – “When was the last time you tried something and failed?”
Safety is an illusion. How often do you choose courage over comfort? Your growth depends on the answer to this question.