Breakthrough lies just beyond the Fear

Last fall, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with Traci Fenton, CEO of WorldBlu.  If you aren’t familiar with WorldBlu, you should be.  Here’s how they describe themselves:

WorldBlu is a global network of organizations committed to practicing freedom and democracy in the workplace.

Our purpose is to unleash human potential and inspire freedom by championing the growth of democratic organizations worldwide.

Traci has a powerful vision for how freedom and democracy can transform the workplace–and she is making it happen.  Their message deeply resonates with me  as it is so connected with the type of work we do.

One of the tools Traci and her organization share and use is what they call “the power question.”  Despite being a disciple of questions, I have to admit that when I first heard this one, I didn’t understand it’s impact.  But as I’ve considered it, used it and shared it with others, the power has become very clear to me.  Here it is:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

This can be applied to you individually, to your team or to your organization.  When you are confronted with an important decision or choice, you use the power question to uncover the path that is most likely to reveal amazing results to you.  The answer to this question is where you find opportunity and breakthrough.  The reason this question is so powerful is that most of the time, we aren’t aware of how afraid we really are or how much fear is dictating our actions.  Once we reveal the fear, we can chose to embrace it and go forward despite it.  Traci explains this much more eloquently than I could ever do justice to, so I am embedding her Tedx talk at the bottom of this post for you.  If you are intrigued by either the concept of workplace democracy or the power question, the video will fill in more details for you.

Fear is running rampant through our organizations.  As we have conversations with leaders to explain to them that the pathway to a culture that yields amazing results is through liberation of talent, not tighter control, you can hear the fear in their response.  The very idea of loosening their grip on the reigns scares them to death because it’s the only path they know.  Liberation can feel like pretty messy business at first, particularly for leaders suffering from the delusion that they are in control.

The power questions offers up a great test for any leader staring at an organization that needs to go faster, to be better.  What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  You might turn more of the business over to the people and trust them to carry it into the future.  You might find the courage to be vulnerable and admit that you don’t have all the answers, that you need help.  You might let go of control and lead people to be their very best through their work.

Great things lie on the other side of our fears if we can only find the courage to step into them.

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