by Jen Sellers
My client Xavier had a niggling problem. As a senior leader and member of the personnel development team, he fosters the growth of individuals across the organization, including recommending transfers to grow new leaders and advance careers. Yet, if too many of his best people go to other locations, the performance of his division could be compromised.
Xavier only had a glimmer that this nagging issue was subtly draining him. We talked it through and he developed a plan which included prioritizing the most essential people at his site, looking at who could replace them from other sites, and preparing a time of overlap. When we were finished, I asked him what had been important in our discussion, and he said, “I turned a worry into action.”
In our next session, Xavier described how he dealt with another concern, the latest obstacle in a difficult plant start-up. Without realizing it, he had again turned worry into action.
As we explored further, he realized that turning worry into action had at least three positive consequences: 1) it created the plan to solve a problem and drive progress, 2) it brought clarity to those involved, and 3) it reduced his own and others’ anxiety, freeing energy and allowing everyone to be more effective.
But what does he do when he is still bothered after he’s done everything he can do for now? What if he has called on all the resources he can think of? Xavier described this type of uneasiness as a tiny anxiety drain, not a broken pipe, but a drip in the bathroom sink that you can’t stop. I suggested a mindful leadership practice – to take a couple of quiet moments, right there in the middle of our coaching session, to quiet his mind and send kindness to the anxiety.
He tried it. When he spoke, he said he felt more relaxed. He said he hadn’t really sent kindness so much as calmed his mind and found acceptance. He was able to let the problem go for a few short moments, to accept it for just a little while. I asked what letting it go, even for a few moments, had done for him. He said it allowed him to use the energy on something else, to place his focus where he could have an impact.
Is calming anxiety important? In my experience, it’s key to a leader’s effectiveness. It allows creative solutions to come through, it helps leaders stay resilient, and it frees up energy for positive outcomes.
There’s no one right way to work with the anxiety drain. Sometimes it’s to turn worry into action, sometimes it’s to give the worry a rest, and it may be something else entirely. Conscious leadership involves slowing down enough to recognize the drain and choose your response. When you pause and reflect, you can choose to solve a problem or accept what is for the moment; either way you are more composed and energized. You can consciously choose how best to stop the anxiety drain.
If you would like support in pausing to reflect and find the best solutions for you and your business, contact us for a complimentary session.
(Client names and a few details are changed to protect confidentiality.)