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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

#1 Enemy of Resiliency: You

Ok, let’s face it: you already do not like this headline. Whatever is going on in your life right now, you are doing your best to handle it.  Or are you? My Resiliency Group colleague, Joe Tye, just released his newest book, Winning the War with Yourself Field Manual. Using timeless principles of military strategists ranging from Roman soldiers to modern-day generals, Tye offers clear-cut strategies to handle all the things we (yes, me too) do to sabotage ourselves.

It all has to do with those internal, infernal voices. You know, the ones that say things like:

"Who do you think you are?"

"Hey, it’s not my fault. Life is just unfair."

" What if I fail?"

"I’ll never be as good as…"

and the big one that I see operating right now across our nation: "I am afraid…"

Fear prompts us into wanting life to be presented in black and white. Absolutes we think keep us safe. So we read and hear generalized statements that demonize people of different races, religions, background, and social status.We want one and only one answer. And without it, we give in to the terror of our imagination.We become our own worst enemy.

When the horror of 9/11 happened, executives of U.S. air carriers had, what Joe describes as, "a collective panic attack". Within weeks, they fired more than 140,000 airline employees thus playing right into the hands of terrorist because such a move sent the global economy reeling.The then-president of United Airlines warned employees that their company would perish.  Wow! What an uplifting message.

Imagination generated fear. But Joe insists: "Fear is a reaction, Courage is a decision."

In the aftermath of 9/11, all of my speaking engagements were canceled. As one client told me, corporate attorneys did not want anyone flying for fear of a lawsuit!

I begged them to let me come. I was not (and am not) afraid to fly. What a perfectly incredible time to help groups to come together, to let me facilitate their conversation, and to help teams find their courage. In fact, I said I would donate my time. Alas, no one took me up on it. Fear took the place of courage.

Joe is so right when he insists that fear causes you to overestimate the nature of a challenge and to underestimate our own resources.

We have the resources to be thoughtful, compassionate people. We have the resources to listen carefully to different opinion. We have the creative capacity to think of new ways of responding rather than pulling out old methods.

There’s a wonderful children’s story, The Monster Who Grew Small. It’s a story for children of all ages. In summation, the little boy was known as"Miobi," which meant, basically – "Scaredy-Cat". Yet, he was the only one of his village who with trembling heart, climbed to the top of the mountain to face "the monster" that had his village living in terror. The moral was, the closer the little boy came to "the monster", the smaller it became.

Face what you fear. Move closer. It might very well be much smaller and even harmless.

But the best lesson of this story came from my grandson who was age six. When the teacher asked the children if the little boy was brave, everyone agreed except my Keaton. Keaton insisted, "No, he was very afraid. He didn’t seek to be brave. He wanted courage."

Something to think about.

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