Archive for Fear

London Leadership Challenge

By · June 29, 2009 · Comments (0)

St Pauls CathedralLove versus fear is a fascinating leadership topic. Today I am reminded of what fear really feels like.

Heart stopping, weak in the knees, nerve wracking fear, in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, of all places. It is Christopher Wren’s architectural bridge between earth and heaven. I was sitting quite contentedly in the whispering chamber, surveying the checkerboard floor far below the base of the great dome, and remembering the old women feeding birds for a tuppence on the steps of St. Paul’s in Mary Poppins. It is a grand cathedral, steeped in history, and as magnificent as any.

My daughter, a 15 year old runner, and my husband, also an athlete had just sprinted to the very top of the dome and down again, and insisted I do the same. They said that the view from the top is like no other, so off I went up the next set of steps. When I reached the chamber of gold, the next set of stairs somehow appeared rickety and unsafe, and when I asked the guard about them, she admitted that this upper section of the dome had reopened only this morning after a year of repairs. What should have made me feel better, made me feel worse. I felt less safe than I ever recall. ‘You can’t be afraid mom, you jumped out of an airplane’ my daughter said, but it did little to diminish my rising fear. My knees were pure gelatin, palms were dripping and my heartbeats had become a deafening thump, thump, thump, exploding in my chest.

This was new. I am not afraid of heights. I am not afraid of small spaces. And yet I felt terror at ascending a small flight of steps. Hours later my entire body flushes in the recollection. Clearly, I did make it to the top and back down again.

Focus and breath. Focus and breath. This is how to move you through your worst fears, an inch, a step, a piece at a time. As with someone afraid of snakes, show it to them, have them touch it and soon they will be holding it, after a series of successive and successful approximations.

Move across fear to the other side, or above the fear to the very top, for the spectacular view, and well worth the climb.

Fear is very real, but move across the chasm of the unexpected and unexplained, through the fear to the other side.

Comments (0)