Tuesday, April 12, 2011

“Fear Funk”

Why are we so afraid? What does fear do to us? Fear paralyzes us. It freezes our action, it distorts our thinking with negativity, it attracts and amplifies problems and is the black hole of energy … fear simply sucks! It sucks the life, the success, the momentum from accomplishing our goals, from reaching our aspirations. Fear sucks our energy; fear gets in the way of everything. So why do we allow ourselves to be afraid? And what are the “Secrets of Life” we need to apply to overcome our fears?

When I grow fearful it generally centers around uncertainty, yet let’s not confuse this with change. Somehow my personal nature loves change. I have almost an addiction to constant change … to the next new experience. My fears are more rooted in faith, in belief. When I don’t truly believe, I don’t fully commit. Without an unyielding commitment to action … I get in my own way. I screw it up for myself because I hold back, I doubt myself, act inconsistently, indulge in self pity, lower my personal standards, and even give off nervous or bad vibes. So how do I break the cycle of the “fear funk”?

Fear is usually about loss or potential loss. It’s most basic underlying primal emotion is the fear of not surviving.

The first action I embrace is acknowledging and examining my fear. It is an awareness thing. The more conscious I am, the more I peel it back, the easier it is to determine my worst case scenario. As soon as I clearly understand my worst case scenario and believe that no matter what, I will survive … that my life is not threatened … my rational thinking begins to defeat my irrational thoughts. I am now free to fully focus my energy on overcoming my fears.

My next “secret” is to hold myself accountable to taking control over my own life. I need a plan of action. I have to be proactive instead of reactive. For me to break out of the “fear funk” I need to write a detailed plan and commit with unyielding determination. As I take action and feel like I am doing what I need to be doing moment by moment, I begin to rebuild my faith, my belief that the future will be what I envision.

I have learned over the past few decades that the more mindful I am; the more time I spend in the present moment, the faster I overcome my “fear funk”. How do I break the paralysis of fear and participate in the moment?

Just breathe! That’s right … deep breathing like an opera singer, from deep in the bottom of my diaphragm. When this focused breathing is accompanied by a conscious awareness of following each breath I become centered in the moment. Mindful breathing changes my physiology. Changing my physiology changes my psychology or mood. I am grateful to my yoga instructor who during the depths of the global financial crisis focused me on practicing my breathing to calm and balance myself. Check it out … in my opinion learning to breathe is a more effective and less expensive “Secret of Life” to combat fear than alcohol, drugs or therapy.

Fear is integral to life but if we turn it on its side it can be motivating force, an opportunity to commit our positive energy to personal growth and belief in ourselves.

How do you overcome your fears?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mentoring: The Gift of Knowledge

When we are open minded, and are fortunate to possess a certain level of personal awareness, life provides us with a constant flow of learning experiences. It can be as powerful as an epiphany or as subtle as a coincidence; it can come from formal training or from a simple event. Many of these learning experiences include an interaction with another human being. We have teachers, coaches, bosses, parents, friends, and even strangers gift us knowledge. At almost every turn in our journey, life is full of interpersonal learning on all levels.

Rarely, and sometimes never, we get lucky and find a true mentor. I define mentoring as a natural, personal relationship with a more experienced, wiser individual that transfers knowledge informally over a period of time. This wise man/woman called “Mentor” has no personal agenda other than to promote the development of their protégé or mentee. When this student/teacher relationship happens naturally, it is magic…It is a gift from the heavens.

Most people never experience true mentoring. It is one of the more elusive “Secrets of Life”. The ideal mentor/mentee relationship begins subtly, almost accidentally, and over time gradually ends that way as well. It is difficult to search out but is almost sure never to happen if you are not open and looking to learn from someone who has knowledge you desire. My simplest explanation is “It is a chemistry-energy thing”. You find yourself attracted to an individual you admire.

In most mentor/mentee relationships it is an older individual sharing with a younger protégé. But in my personal journey I have had two mentors that were a few years younger than me, three mentors that were much older and one special friendship that started out as me mentoring someone 15 years younger and ended upside down with my mentee becoming my mentor. All of these wonderful learning experiences have provided me quantum leaps of personal growth. When the stars align, a true mentor provides short cuts to life’s success thru knowledge transfer.

One of my late mentors, Lenny Zakim, was also one of my hero’s. He taught me to always be over-prepared, to be laser focused on a clear vision, to create and demand the highest standards of achievement, but most important of all… to make a positive difference in the lives I touch. The most amazing dimension about this special hero, mentor, and friendship was how much fun we had together. As demanding as Lenny was about everything he did and expected from everyone around him, he was equally as passionate about every friendship and mission that encompassed his life.

Mentoring is a pure, no strings attached gift to the receiver and a privileged opportunity for the giver. Life’s path is powerfully altered by the kindness and wisdom of mentoring. Look… but not too forcibly, and you may find your mentor or possibly your mentee.

Does anyone wish to share their experience with mentoring?