When I was nineteen I took my youngest brother out on a nearby boating lake. He was only six years old and as I rowed us both across the shallow water he became quite nervous.
I stopped and explained that because this was the first time he’d ever been in a boat, the rocking was completely different from anything he’d experienced before. But actually there was no real danger: the boat wasn’t tipping over in the way he feared it might. And even if we did fall in, the water was so shallow that we could easily walk to shore if it did. Who knows, once he got used to it, bobbing around in a boat might even be fun!!
I don’t know if you’ve ever been out in a small rowing boat but these times of churning that we are living through are like this: many of the situations we face are completely different from anything we have known before. And although fires, floods, and hurricanes are becoming increasingly common, there is usually no immediate danger. Even with Covid-19 the actual risk is low, if we take precautions.
The later steps in the Inner Leadership process will show us how to make sense of whether the danger is real, find more ways to respond, and choose how best to move forward.
But before we do any of these things our first task is simply to learn to centre and ground ourselves so that we can stay calm despite the rocking.
Then, like Doctor Who, we can start to see the challenges we face as opportunities for adventure — proactively handling whatever comes up and learning to enjoy the process, just like the bobbing of the boat!
This is the first step to becoming antifragile.
Have you ever worried too much about something that didn’t actually happen and where the risk was very low even if it did? What would it have been like if you lived like Doctor Who?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)