The Uncertainty of Business and Why We're All a Little Afraid
Rebecca F: Hello, this is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of the Bad Ass Women's Council podcast, and I am super glad that you're here. So, we're all a little afraid. Do you buy that? Do you feel that? Are you a little afraid every day about something? I know I am, and what I have really appreciated since we had Dr. Joan Rosenberg on the show last year was understanding the difference between fear and uncertainty. Because we use the word fear a lot but what she taught us on the show and in her book, 90 Seconds to a Life That You Love, is that fear is the right word if there's physical imminent danger. So, if there's a tiger in the room, you should be afraid. If there's a tornado coming, you should probably be afraid. But most of what we're experiencing, that we call fear, is uncertainty; the fact that we just don't know how things are going to turn out. And especially in business there is a lot of opportunity every single minute for uncertainty. So, let's break it down. So our brains are wired to keep us safe so there's a little bit of that healthy fear that's built in. In fact, I was on a business trip... Gosh, I kind of miss being on a business trip, actually. I never thought I'd say that... a couple of years ago. And I was at my hotel, I didn't have to do my keynote speech until later in the day, so I got up that morning and I wanted to go for a long run. And so I asked the people at the front desk, " Hey, where's a nice nature, great place that I could go get lots of miles in this morning," and they gave me the name of this park that was a few miles away. And I got in my rental car, got there, pulled in super early and so the park wasn't actually open yet but lots of trails there. And as I pulled in there was this pick up truck that was sitting off to the side, and there was something about it that just caught me; you know that feeling inside your gut, and so I kept an eye on it. I got out of my car but I didn't get too far away from my car and just kind of scoped out the area. And the longer I stood there, the more uneasy I felt, and finally I thought, " No, not going to do it." And as I was walking back to my car, that's when the lady who was opening up the park front desk; whatever that's actually called. I don't think it's called the front desk. But she said, " Hey, can I help you," and I said, " Yeah." I said, " I was going to go for a nice long run here. It looks like a great place with great trails." I said, " But honestly, I'm just feeling really uneasy with that guy parked over there in his truck. It's just giving me the creeps." And as I'm standing there talking to her the hair on my arms stood up; on my arms and on hers, and we each looked at each other and she goes, " I get it." And she said, " We've never seen that truck here before. I'd love for you to come back another time. Sorry you've had this experience but I totally understand." And I am absolutely confident that had I not listened to that healthy fear that was bubbling up in me that that day would've ended up far different. And I got in my car and I drove back to the hotel and I ran about 5, 000 laps around the hotel property to get my miles in that day, and the whole time just grateful that God had given me that little nudge that said, " No, don't do it." So there is this aspect of having some healthy fear that we all need to keep us safe, but what about the uncertainty that exists in our lives, in our business? What I have found to be true is that the more I talk about this, the more comforting that it is, because uncertainty is such a shared human experience it has the opportunity to really bring us together. Because, when we have those shared human experiences, there's calm and comfort and often courage that gets built in knowing that we're not the only one. So uncertainty could be what unites us, and I learned this from another personal experience. When I was working for the Franklin Covey Organization I was successful, I had good sales numbers, and so I stood out for that, and I was asked by the western region in California, the managing director there, Maryann; love her, to come out and talk to her region about some of my best practices and the things that I was doing that was lending itself to my success. Which, you all, it's an honor to be asked, right? You think, " Oh, that's cool," and then your immediate second thought is, " Holy crap." There's nothing more rattling that being asked to talk to your peers because then it starts to have you question, " Well, am I really that good? I don't think I'm good enough to go tell you how to do that." That just stirs up all kinds of what I refer to on the podcast as the little bitch in my head... in our heads, right? But I said yes, I prepared my talk, and I prepared to talk about the things that mattered to the company, about having a good, healthy pipeline, using our sales force CRM, making sure you uncover the client's needs, building a business case, what's the ROI... I walked through each stage of the sales cycle and was prepared to talk about how I did those things. And I did the talk and it was fine, and at the very end... Let me also say that the main reason I was excited to do the talk was because I got to see my friends in California, because shared human experience is what we're all seeking, right? So I'm thinking, " Okay, good. Got the talk over with." What I was really looking forward to was drinks in the bar after the conference so I could catch up with everybody, and we all know that that's where the real sharing of information happens. That's where you really start to learn from each other. So I'm wrapping up and I ask if there was any questions, and somebody asked... I don't remember this very specific of the question; something about how do you hit your goals year over year, and I said, " Well, I'm afraid every single day." And I hadn't prepared or planned to say that out loud but it's in fact the truth. And the whole place got quiet but in a now they were really paying attention kind of way, which made me really uncomfortable because I thought, " This wasn't what I had told Maryann I was there to talk about," so I immediately look up at her like, " Am I in trouble? Should I have not said that?" And she didn't give me the, " Get off the stage; you're fired," look, so I just kept going. And I said, " Yeah, I'm afraid every single day," and then someone said, " You? You're afraid?" And I take that as a compliment because I'd been known... My reputation was that I was fairly bold and outspoken, which, if you've listened to the podcast any, you know that's true. But I said, " Yeah. I think if you're not a little afraid, especially when you're in a job that requires you to hit your goal every year and then you get rewarded with an even bigger goal, you're probably not doing it right. It's that uncertainty and that bit of fear that drives me, that has me get up every day and try to figure out a new solution and how am I going to keep this ball rolling." And so many people had questions, and the person that originally asked the question had this look of relief on her face; I'll never forget it. It was this sense of, " Thank God it's not just me." And the vibe in the room completely changed in a beautiful way. It was almost like before I started talking about the real stuff, about uncertainty and fear, to a lot of them I probably sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher; wah, wah, wah, right? Use the CRM, make sure you have a good business case. I mean, that's all stuff we've been told a gazillion times, but what stops us from doing the things we know we should be doing is often that little bitch in our head that says, " I'm not sure you're good at this," or, " I'm not sure you're going to be able to close this deal." But when we were able to unite around our uncertainty and our fears, that's when we really came together. And, in fact, in the bar that night, people continued to come around and ask me more questions about it. It was like I had just given them freedom and permission and released them from this little fear prison that we put ourselves in. And especially when we're high achievers in the business world. Business has a ton of uncertainty. The strategy, the customers, the employees. People are uncertain. We're personal, we're emotional, we're social. We aren't robots. But the business wants us to feel like it's all in control and everything we do can be measured and optimized. But I've worked for a lot of companies... worked with as a consultant, with a lot of companies, helping them design and execute their strategy. And, you all, a business strategy is just a really smart guess. Sure, you want to go gather some information, maybe get some data, make sure you're making an educated guess, but any time you put a goal or strategy out there in business, it's uncertain. It's uncertain if people will know how to execute the strategy. It's uncertain if a customer's going to pick up the phone. So much uncertainty. I could keep going; example after example. And we pretend like, because it's business, that it's all under control because there's a spreadsheet. But, you all, there's so much that's just figuring it out. And I say that not to give you more fear and uncertainty; I say that to give you comfort that we're all figuring it out, because business is done by people for people, and nobody has it all figured out. And even if you do, you're working with somebody who doesn't, so you're always adapting and changing and shifting. So I hope that actually gives you more confidence than it gives you more fear, more uncertainty, and that we can all just go have permission to go figure it out together. So, what about those times when the voices in our head start to spin and talk us out of things we want to do or that we need to do? How do we handle it? Well, it's my experience that that's when we really need connection. We need others to help get us out of our own head and get us unstuck, so those voices inside our head, we can start to talk in our outside voices with each other. In fact, on the very first day of Rise and Thrive last year, which is a seven month experience that I take seven high achieving career women through together, I'll never forget that these women that come together; they are bad asses. They're leaders, they're executives, they're directors. They're people that are doing big work. And they've stepped into this opportunity willingly; there's no hostages. They've paid a nice check for this experience. But the first day they're all sitting around that table and they're looking at each other, and I just felt the uncertainty, I felt the fear, I felt that everybody's wondering, " What's this going to be about? How is this going to go?" That's part of the deal. When we step into something bold and big and different, we've got to be willing to sit in that place of, " I've never been here before." So I took the opportunity to do what I do when I feel that, and I just wanted to bring some levity to the room and I said, " You all, this is for you. You can't eff this stuff up." And then they all laughed and realized that it wasn't a test, it wasn't something to overcome; it was something to step into with each other. So if we're going to handle what I call the sea of uncertainty, of swimming in those waters of not sure how it's going to go, step one, be optimistic. We're always making up stories in our head. Brené Brown talks about that in Dare To Lead; What's the Story I'm Making Up? So if we're going to make up a story, let's make up one that's optimistic and expectant, and move through these challenges and these big, bold decisions that we want to make with just a sheer amount of optimism. And then, number two, look back. Look back over your life and your experiences in your business. Look for evidence of your bad assery because you've got stuff that you've done that you've been great at. And go back and look for evidence of that. Make some notes. I recommend you keep a bad ass list handy that you can just pull it up any time you need to be like, " Yeah, I did that," to encourage you and remind you that you can do hard things. Number three; ask for help. Expand your circle and get to know people with different skills. That's the thing that I have absolutely loved about the Rise and Thrive group, is they have such different style, personality, experience, gifts, and they can call upon each other, ask for help from each other, to be able to affirm each other and help validate that what they've got is what somebody else needs. And the fourth thing that I'll leave you with today is, if you're leading a team, remember these things that we've... that I've just talked about today. We, meaning me and the little bitch in my head. We've been talking to you today. Remember these things because: Everybody's a little afraid and we all need assured, we need clarity, we need the context of the business decisions and strategy. We need to know what's the story. Take the time necessary to help people feel safe with their thoughts, their emotions, their decisions. All these things come to work. It's always so maddening to me when I hear someone say, " Well, don't take it personally." That's impossible. Everything about our lives is personal. Or, " We don't need to bring emotions into this," when we're talking about something at work. Yeah, that's like saying don't bring your arms to work; they're inconvenient. We bring our emotions to work about everything. And so if we just acknowledge that instead of pretending like it's not a thing or it's not happening, if we let people ask questions and share their emotions and their insecurities, then we get that shared human experience that actually makes us feel bolder and more confident. That we're all in this together. That's what I've loved about Rise and Thrive. If this is something that you're looking for; you're looking to be bolder, you're looking to make some big decisions, and you want a group of bad ass women to gather round and walk in that uncertainty with you, we've got another group starting for Rise and Thrive. It's a seven month experience. Go to wethrive. live, which is my website, and click on the Rise and Thrive tab, and you'll see some information there. And then there's a Get Registered button that you fill out a little bit of information, and I'll schedule some time to jump on the phone with you and you can ask some questions and see if it's right for you. Because I find that, in this post COVID world, we've kind of divided into two camps and neither ones right or wrong; it's just my experience as I look around and talk with people. One group is kind of hunkered down, waiting for it to be safer out there, and I get it; there are... I get that. There is another group that's launching out and they're jumping back in to create opportunities in the midst of the uncertainty. If that's you, I'd love to introduce you to some other bad ass women to walk that journey together. All right, you all, I hope this has been helpful to you, and if you would like to connect, you know what; send me an email. You want to jump on the phone, talk about any of these things, I'd love to do that; Rebecca @ wethrive. live. All right. Make it a great day.
Business has a ton of uncertainty. The strategy, the customers, the employees — people are uncertain. We are personal, emotional, and social beings. We aren't robots. And uncertainty is a shared human experience that has the opportunity to ring us together. When we have those shared human experiences, there's comfort and courage that gets built in knowing that we're not alone.
In this week’s episode, Rebecca Fleetwood Hession talks to us about uncertainty in business and how we are all a little afraid. We think that business is all under control because there's a spreadsheet. But there's so much that is just “figuring it out.” Rebecca talks about the human side of business, reminding us that, “business is done by people for people, and nobody has it all figured out.” She tells us about times she has been afraid and fears she has experienced during her career, and she gives us permission to all “go figure it out together.” We will listen to Rebecca as she tells us about the way we can use uncertainty as a unifying experience that makes us feel bolder and more confident. In her own words, “we're all in this together.”
In today’s podcast, Rebecca the clarity and reassurance we are all looking for in business. She talks about why we need to know the story and take the time necessary to help people feel safe with their thoughts, their emotions, their decisions. We all bring our emotions to work, and if we let people ask questions and share their emotions and their insecurities, then we get that shared human experience. Rebecca discusses why that feeling of “togetherness” makes us feel bolder and more confident.
Listen in to learn more about why we are all a little afraid and how the uncertainty in business can actually unite us and embolden us.