Often we get so busy with day-to-day responsibilities and tasks that we don’t take time out to reflect on what has been achieved, what needs to change and to plan for the future in all aspects of our lives. Time for reflection is very important for our mental, physical and emotional well-being, and our ability to engage in self-care. I think it is indicative of our “busyness” that the number one workers compensation claims today are stress related, rather than physical injuries. Stress is also the most significant contributor to ill health. And yet we work harder and harder, much of which is driven by fear of loss of security through loss of employment. Yes, things are challenging economically in Australia and around the world, however, I believe there is too much fear-mongering and negativity, which simply compounds many irrational fears.
Why are we so afraid of so many things? We have become a society which fears anything and anyone who are different. We have become more close-minded, yet many are challenging why we are thinking and behaving this way, and so we should. Some of our irrational fears at present include the following:
- Allowing more women into senior leadership roles will positively discriminate against men
- Increasing female participation in male-dominated industries, e.g. construction, firefighting will diminish the skill level and competence of the industry
- Boat people and refugees will take our jobs and don’t really need our help
- Marriage equality will cause the demise of traditional marriage and a break down in society’s values
- Victims of domestic violence shouldn’t speak about it publically, because it isn’t “nice”, and it’s a private matter
- Young people are not as committed and hard working as older generations
- Charity starts at home, therefore we need to cut foreign aid to third world countries
- Freedom of speech is dangerous, and those with dissenting views should be silenced or punished.
Politicians and elements of the press promote comments and stories that are designed to increase fear, leading to greater intolerance, scepticism, lack of trust and respect for those who are different. When did we become this politically-correct, scared and distrusting society?
I have long believed that with conformity all we get is more of the same, and doing the same things over and over again will simply deliver the same results. If you change nothing, then nothing changes.
Too many leaders in public roles, in religious institutions, the private and public sectors, are leading through fear, command and control, when what we need are courageous leaders, who are authentic, act with integrity for the greater good of the people, and communicate open and honestly with transparency. Courage is doing the right things, not the popular things. Leadership is also about embracing diversity, rather than seeing diversity as “threatening”. Leadership is about listening first, before speaking, and being open to differences of opinion, exploring the best solutions to the problems we face. The problems of the future cannot be solved at the same level of thinking as yesterday. Most importantly, leadership is the about the “Power of One”, yes that means it starts with each one of us first, then through leading others. What assumptions, stereotypes, thinking and behaviours do you need to change for a more productive, inclusive and collaborative future?
Change is a choice you make!