Many of us were initiated into fear from an early age, even if we grew up in the most loving of families. We came to know it intimately as we encountered the prospect of punishment. We feared being ostracised, feeling ashamed. We feared our most cherished possibilities being withdrawn from us by those with power over us. It was central our education system, and it is what gave such powerful impetus to our learning to fit in as we grew.
And so as adults we come to rely on fear as a way of having things happen, and we hardly know we are doing it. We build it into our institutions, practices, policies and procedures. We barely see how we are creating circumstances in which we and others cannot speak up, cannot say what’s true, cannot bring ourselves forward strongly. We are blind to how our own fear is shaping us.
And fear’s wish to hide itself – because we are fearful of speaking about our fear – means this can be the case even in those organisations with the noblest aspirations.
So maybe it’s time to ask some important questions – ones that may provoke some fear themselves if you truly address them, head-on.
Does the way you run your organisation draw out the dignity of others, or their defensiveness?
Their genuine capacity to contribute, or their wish to protect themselves?
Their care, or their fearful self-interest?
Their ability to do the right thing, or their skill in looking good?
Their capacity to tell the truth, or to hide things away?
What does it draw out of you?
And could you learn, even though you are afraid, to be someone who draws out dignity, contribution, care and truth in those around you?