“What if we don’t hit our numbers?”
“Supposing the new program launch isn’t successful?”
“What will happen if we can’t fill that staff position in time?”
These worries, and countless others like them, can dominate the thinking of leaders. This week at the WCA enough problems and potential problems have crossed my desk that, if I don’t discipline my thinking, I could find myself doing little more than worrying all day.
And the reason leaders must maintain the discipline to avoid needless worry is because of the mental energy it can cost you.
Few resources are more important to the vitality of a leader than mental energy. The ability to solve problems, build teams, cast vision and plan strategy all require significant portions of mental energy, and throughout your day you are either filling or draining your mental energy tank.
But the ability to overcome this challenge can be achieved, if you know these 4 ways to win the war on worry…
1. Understand the difference between worry and concern
Concern is action-oriented. In fact, concern is one of the fuels that drives effective leadership. It flows from a deep sense of dissatisfaction over a situation, and drives the leader toward problem-solving.
Worry, on the other hand, is merely hand-wringing negativism.
2. Recognize the futility of worry
Studies have shown that 85% of what we worry about never comes to pass. For leaders the math just doesn’t justify expending mental energy on outcomes that are unlikely to ever happen.
3. Arrest “worst-case scenario” thinking
Much of worry flows out of assuming the very worst outcome of any situation.
For example, when results are below plan at a particular juncture, “worry” assumes that the trend will continue, that the plan will fail, that this will cost you your job, that you will therefore be unable to provide for your family, and on and on and on…
The mental discipline to recognize this thinking pattern, to arrest it mid-thought, and to refuse to entertain such scenarios is a tremendous energy saver.
4. Expect the best, prepare for the worst.
This axiom may be slightly simplistic, but there is some truth to be found here.
Effective leaders don’t supplant worry with naiveté. And they certainly don’t adopt Alfred E. Neuman’s policy of “What, me worry?”
Instead they right-size the possibility of a negative outcome, and they put the necessary response plans in place.
There is no quick-fix, but if you embrace these strategies you can see dramatic improvements in your mental energy tank.
And over time you really can win the war on worry.