Feeling anxious these days? It’s an understandable sensation when trying to accomplish significant life goals, and starting a business definitely falls into that category. Justin Menkes, author of Better Under Pressure, noted the human urge for unwinding and for being drawn to “the comfort of relaxation rather than to the challenge of discovery.” For a high achiever, anxiety combined with chaotic challenge-seeking can be one’s undoing if left unchecked. The business world is beyond brimming with people anxious over the next project, the next career move, and the next life event.
Very few answers to our worries come to us immediately. Luckily some good books claiming answers, namely Flying Without a Net: Turn Fear of Change Into Fuel for Success by Thomas J. Delong, Professor of Management Practice in Organizational Behavior at the Harvard Business School. The jargon-free book delivers a helpful read that will give you a sophisticated means to accomplish your tasks with grace and aplomb.
Put the past into the past instead of transferring old perceptions into new situations.
Drawing on his extensive research and consulting work, Delong lays out the leading causes for a dysfunctional loop within a familiar personality type, the high-need-for-achievement professional. That loop can lead to anxiety with a bottomless craving for achievement regardless of personal costs and an entrenched resistance to change.
To bring redemption Delong constructs a framework that prescribes how this anxiety can be managed. He does not sell happy-go-lucky solutions. Instead he weaves research and past experience to come up with useful recommendations.
“Taking safe risks is paradoxical, since high achievers relish seizing opportunistic risks to get ahead, yet they are also risk-averse to the extent that they are fearful of taking a risk and failing. High-achiever types manage the paradox by being both perceptive about risk and selective about risks they take…As long as they only take calculated risks, they can avoid feeling vulnerable.”
Much of the content in Flying Without a Net is well reasoned without belaboring its points. Delong admits his foibles along the way, and notes that we are all vulnerable: “Just because these traits are common…doesn’t mean that they have to derail your career.”
Highlights to help you start soaring:
• High achievers fear being wrong, leading to anxiety and to feeling a lack of purpose.
• Anxiety comes from wondering the purpose of tasks, feeling isolation from other people and questioning the significance of self.
• At times high achievers pick up destructive behaviors to relieve anxiety, such as busyness, comparing ourselves to others, blaming others for our frustrations and worry.
• We must adopt behaviors that permit “strength from vulnerability”–recognizing when we transfer busyness into avoidance of human connection, for example.
Small business owners are susceptible to high-achiever anxiety. Many entrepreneurs come from corporate environments, leaving their functions behind and bringing their psyche with them. Flying Without a Net is most useful for those aspiring professionals contemplating a jailbreak from a bad work environment, and works well for small business leaders seeking to guide teams to be creative, rather than just busy.
Read Flying Without a Net to reassess your ambitions, restore your sensibilities and inspire you to do more than just checking tasks off a list. SVBS