Saturday, January 16, 2016

Escaping the Prison of Fear

Fear is a living breathing beast in schools.  No matter how talented you are or how successful your campus is, fear is lurking around your building and waiting to rear its ugly head.  The minute that scores drop, fear arises.  If anyone complains, insecurity mounts.  If an educator experiences divorce, death or difficulties in their own personal life, fear drives them into survival model.

But as I ponder fear and the effects that it has on teachers, leaders and a culture of learning, I am reminded of this picture by Tony Evans that I tweeted out a few months ago.

As leaders, we must remind ourselves that we have two options in how we can handle fear:

  • We can avoid acknowledging that fear exists, or 
  • We can create a culture that courageously and collaboratively conquers their fears. 

A culture that fails to meet its fears head on will eventually succumb to the stress caused by fear and spiral into chaos. However, a culture that conquers its fears may suffer setbacks along the way but will eventually reach a new and better place. As leaders, we must remember that fear stifles creativity. It inhibits innovation, and it puts people in their place.  Whether its personal or professional, all fear stifles progress.

Fear is a prison, but it doesn't have to imprison us forever. A leader's job is not to remove fear from the organization. It is to challenge people to come together to courageously confront all fears. Fear will always be a part of who we are because we are human, but the best leaders ensure that fear doesn't strangle both the organization and the people who make it thrive.  Organizations that thrive, are composed of many people who care about one another, support on another in times of difficulty, and pick one another up when they're in trouble.  In these organizations, fear is not confronted in isolation.  It's conquered through collaboration.

This week, take time to work with your colleagues to:

  • Face your fears and call them by name, 
  • Eliminate your fears with a plan of action,
  • Acknowledge that having fear is ok, but letting it stop you is not 
  • Rise above your fears by telling your story. 
You won't believe the progress that will follow.

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