Two drives prevent human systems from flourishing in healthy ways: Fear and lack of self-confidence. One of the ultimate ways to make a real difference – in whatever sense – in the short and long term is to cultivate the ability of people to conquer their fears and to gain self-confidence.
There lies the challenge. And only our intention to improve this in ourselves and to be generous with helping others do the same can help people co-create healthy human systems.
How to address these root issues?
We all have fears. From the get-go as babies all the way to the dusk of our life. Some say it’s just a matter of ‘being aware’:
- A: Accept the anxiety. Don’t try to fight it.
- W: Watch the anxiety. Just watch it and when you notice it, scale your level of fear and start to breathe longer on the out-breath.
- A: Stands for ‘Act normally’. …
- R: Repeat the above steps in your mind if necessary.
- E: Expect the best.
And certainly one of the lessons of meditation is that being aware of what controls us is 50% of the solution. This other post puts awareness on top too.
This judicious post gives us some tips to tackle our fear: accept our vulnerability, lower expectations (right down to ‘expect nothing’), embrace the possibility of success, let go, be present in the moment, trust yourself.
In addition to that, and specifically for agile KM initiatives, I would add, at a collective scale:
- Inspect our collective fears and vision a world without them
- Keep enriching your grand visions, but take baby steps – breaking large challenges in tiny chunks is one way to outsmart your brain using the science of fear
- Cultivate taking risks (safe-fail and all that) a.k.a. learning in the service of success
One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation. – Arthur Ashe
Self-confidence can be related to fear, when it’s about the fear of not being up to standards, fear of failure etc.
For general self-confidence, the great website Zen Habits proposes 25 tips that surely can help you improve.
But from an agile KM perspective, here are some perspectives to help us gain self-confidence:
- Seek, give and cultivate feedback – knowing how to provide and how to receive good feedback is essential for all of us and for our collective enterprises. Feedback is the learning loop that doesn’t require structured processes and can happen at any time. And when it comes to self-confidence we both need positive and constructive feedback.
- Seek and provide opportunities for growth (slightly) outside the comfort zone: When we take risks and do things that seem like challenges, and when we succeed, we grow immensely. We need to be given these chances, and we need to give these chances to others when we can too.
“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. – Seth Godin, in ‘Linchpin’.
- Abandon toxic attitudes that kill self-confidence: Kill cynicism, trade judging for trying to understand, stop making fun of peoples’ efforts to do good or better, stop mocking idealism. All these negative traits are keeping people down and unable to grow. The result of the lizard brain, and the contrary to what we should be doing… It’s all in the attitude.
This is potentially only the first post on this topic because working on these two levers of human systems has dawned upon me as being really essential to whatever we do.
And I’m now going back to my meditation practice, because all of the above is much easier said than done. But healthy human systems where love, happiness and peace find an easier way through are well worth the effort.
Related blog posts:
- Believe in empowerment? Then just do it!
- Of ‘healthy human systems’ beyond ‘the field’ and facilitating conversations that change the world: an interview with Sam Kaner and Nelli Noakes
- With KM, life, it’s all in the attitude, so ‘JUST DO IT’ (Nike does it)