Three Reasons Why Many Leaders Are Afraid Of The Future
Managers are responsible for the present. Leaders are responsible for the future. This simple definition draws a line between one who manages certainty and one who leads into uncertainty.
This core difference may sound simple, yet, many leaders are afraid of the future. This fear blocks leadership qualities in many people. Therefore, to create more leaders we need to understand the restricting nature of that fear and turn it into a strength.
There are three reasons many leaders are afraid to look into the future – natural fear, the comfort of the present, and procrastination in a face of the unknown.
We all have absolutely normal human fears – the fear of falling, the fear of judgment or rejection, the fear of public speaking, and so on. The fear of the future or anticipatory anxiety is one of those normal human fears. This fear is associated with excessive worry about potential future events which can be best explained as ‘What if?’.
The fear of the future often comes as a result of negative experiences from the past and people tend to project such experiences onto the future in a more negative way. Plus, the future is uncertain and out of our control which is not acceptable to many.
This natural fear triggers negative or cautious thinking that starts to guide our behaviors and emotions and leads us to think about problems that result in creating more problems.
At the same time, fear infuses negativity into our minds and doesn’t offer solutions. Great solutions come from positive thinking. Stop feeding negative thinking about problems that may never happen. Feed positivity and think about solutions that you can create and implement in the future to make it better than the present.
So, simply accept that the fear of the future is a normal human trait, and move on.
Too much comfort is a fertile ground for the fear of the potentially uncomfortable future that may occur. Comfort is a killer of our inner potential that makes us think ‘what if I fail and lose my comfortable life?’.
The desire for mental comfort blocks personal and professional growth. Comfort is a swamp that destroys a person’s will. This is a force that is difficult to defeat. It always presents new excuses and reasons why you shouldn’t act on your vision.
In practice, many leaders think ‘I do well enough and don’t need to do better’ without even trying to leave their comfort zone. This leads to short-term thinking and the eventual destruction of whatever they might have accomplished.
When we feel comfortable, we are not looking for solutions. Comfort is rich in choices that don’t require commitments. Leaving your comfort zone requires decisions that assume commitments and more responsibilities.
Comfort feeds ego. A big ego kills the vision of the future instantly. The ego is a mask that blocks out the world in favor of personal interest. It blocks everything, allowing only ‘me’ to grow like a balloon that will burst into sadness in the end. These people don’t see anything in it for themselves. This happens with leaders of all ranks as well as shareholders, partners, and employees. They are not prepared to leave their comfort zone even under the threat of being run over by change.
In reality, we all love the comfort and have a reasonable dose of ego but too much turns people away and ruins opportunities for creating the future.
Procrastination in the face of uncertainty
Tapping into something unknown with no knowledge or information is always difficult. We have solid and well-packed knowledge about the past, we have fairly enough information about the present, and we have no knowledge or information about the future. The future is yet to be created out of weak signs and clues into something solid.
At the same time, many leaders have so-called mind lag, thinking too much about the past, a bit about the present, and very little about the future. No one creates the future with thoughts cast into the past.
As a result, tapping on something unknown or uncertain causes procrastination in thinking and acting. Yet to be realized that life is uncertain. The future is even more uncertain. However, uncertainty hides the beauty of the unknown which allows us to discover new knowledge and meaning. We define success by making the uncertain certain. Growth lies in uncertainty.
The fear of the future is not a verdict or genetically uncurable defect. A cure to that natural fear, comfort zone, or procrastination in a face of uncertainty is a strong and compelling vision.
Vision is our aspiration for the future that we strive to make a reality today. A strong and compelling vision is the only certainty in this forthcoming uncertainty. Vision must be greater than you and your organization, and so inspirational to you and your people that it outfights your fears. Vision is the single most powerful leadership tool for creating a prosperous future.
Be a true leader that defines the future for people and put your signature on the future being here and now.
Written by Dr. Oleg Konovalov.
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