What keeps you up at night?
I know I am not the only one who is awakened by a ruminating mind. I seem to tell myself the best and most imaginative stories between the hours of Midnight and 3am. Sadly, at that hour and in those moments, I frequently buy-in to those stories and allow them to carry me away.
Recently, I began to examine those stories in hopes of understanding their origin and the reason for their numerous and unwelcomed visits. This investigation has resulted in some interesting findings. By nature I am a problem solver, it is what I do for a living. On the surface, that sounds like an admirable trait and for the most part it is of benefit. However, it also means I am someone who likes to know how things will turn out. The unknowable is hard for me to handle. Couple that with the fact I am a worrier and the outcome is many sleepless nights.
What keeps me up at night? I want to know that I will always give my clients the right advice and deliver value. I want know that those that I value deeply value me. I want to know that I will forever be able to provide for my family. Finally, I worry about surprises, as I hate surprises!
Business leaders carry the burden of many. I have begun to use this very question in my practice. The impact has been significant. A CEO may articulate that she wants to drive growth. Yet, when I ask this question, the answer rarely has anything to do with growing sales or profits. The reply might be that she worries about providing for her employees and their families. In a family business, the concern is often about upholding the family legacy or not letting down the prior generation. Leaders worry about making the right decisions, taking the right action and achieving the desired results. They often struggle with having to do so in isolation, feeling as if they are on an island.
I want to encourage a discussion around these worries and fears. I feel there is a real benefit in sharing the things that keep us up at night. Too often we fail to unveil these concerns. Yet it is my belief, that an open dialogue can do much to help us better cope with these stories we tell ourselves. At the very least, we can offer one another the comfort of not being alone in our doubts. I would like to bring forward the fact that many of us are burdened by these nighttime concerns.
What keeps you up at night? What strategies do you employ to deal with those concerns? Let’s open a dialogue and bring into the open our worries and fears. I don’t view these as weakness; rather I view them as the embodiment of humanness. Humanness with all of its accompanying vulnerabilities is the makings of an integrative leader.
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