Anxiety and Leadership

Thought-provoking post (here) at llpathways (blog here) on whether we should be trying to banish anxiety from our lives.  The post is a riff on the existential psychology of Rollo May — one of May’s most famous and best observations is that

One does not become fully human painlessly.

Back to the post, I especially liked this passage outlining May’s take that:

[A]nxiety was not something to be somehow removed, but a gateway to the exploration of meaning in our lives.  Indeed, that anxiety itself is associated with human creativity.   Anxiety is as though the world is knocking at your door, and you need to create, you need to make something, you need to do something.  It is an incentive to courage – one of the attributes of the exercise of leadership. 

I’ve been reflecting on courage and bravery lately, so this post touched a chord with me.  As I reflect back on when I’ve had to do tough things, I see that too often I would do that tough thing, but in a way that was profoundly inconsiderate or callous (at best).  By wallowing in the despair of what I was losing, or how unfair it was, etc., I found that my fear, resentment, and apathy had destroyed what I had hoped to preserve when I made the “hard” choice. 

Leadership is often about doing the right thing, but also about doing it the right way.  Per another May quote:

Courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.


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