Facing Fear In Leadership
I have been so aware of the pervasiveness of fear in my life these days — fear in my leading a session of Journal work on Friday, fear in taking on an assistant teaching role in the Sevenoaks Pathwork Transformation Program starting later this month, fear even in sending out emails regarding administrative matters in which I am involved. Fear in my relationships, especially with some people. Fear in writing this blog. Why such pervasive fear in so much of my life, especially in these recent months? What is up? What is trying to get my attention?
Let me dig a little deeper. What exactly was my fear leading up to my leadership role on Friday? First of all it was not a debilitating fear — I could lead the session just fine, and did not feel the fear in doing so. In fact when afterwards I shared with one of the participants my fear issues, she was stunned. She saw me as relaxed and comfortable in the role, very natural, and thought it was well done. And her words did not lessen this fear that I felt. Not one bit.
So maybe there are various types of fear. What type is this fear that plagues me? It feels huge, ever-present, and pervasive. I think the word is existential, not rational or theoretical but experiential, and relating to my very beingness. I do not think it is depression, because even though I feel fear, at the same time I feel very alive and active and engaged with life.
Let’s take my current fear, the fear of going into this teaching role in Pathwork in two and a half weeks. What is this fear about? Part of it is related to not knowing what we are going to do yet. I feel pressure to get things down on paper. A framework. Do I fear that the framework will not come together? Not really. Our teaching team has lots of ideas floating around. So what is it?
In part the fear comes because I rely not on a formulary plan or a curriculum handed to me by other faculty but rather because I rely on my intuition to let fresh plans arise from within me and from my engagement with my lead teacher. And then in the group I rely on my intuition to let the leading go where it wants to go, following the flow of energy and Spirit in the group. And I notice in this that I can be creative and responsive both in preparation and execution, even spontaneous much of the time. In other words, what shows up is very much me.
I am getting closer to the fear now. I am afraid of being me! I am afraid that I shall not have the skills or talents to be effective in leading from this core of me. How will I lead this type of work or that type of work, all standard fare of our 4-day sessions — things like core energetics, meditation sessions, movement and dance sessions, breath-work, artwork, rituals, and emotional-processing work-scenes, to name a few. I feel like David facing Goliath. I have a slingshot that I know how to use (my slingshot is just being me, fully present), and yet in learning a lot of specific techniques (core energetics, etc.) I feel like David felt when Saul gave him his armor to carry into battle. The armor was not David, rather it just got in the way, and in the end David faced Goliath without armor, with just his being, confidence, trust, and slingshot. And David was not afraid.
Fear is my lack of trust. What or whom do I not trust? I do not trust me. I do not trust that I have the skills necessary to use the many tools of Pathwork Transformation Program, to wear the armor and carry the weapons. AND I do not trust my slingshot, my core essence and presence. This, of course, is a both/and, not an either/or. I need to develop my skills to effectively wear the armor and use the weapons AND I need to trust my Essence, my Presence, God within and without, and my slingshot.
There, that clarity helps a bit. But I also need to be where I am and not ahead of where I am. I am a student, always have been, always will be. And as a student I must be willing to make mistakes, lots of them, as I master the skills of this work, mastering both the tools and the Presence. And I must come to trust Spirit, both within the group and arising from within me. This mastery and trusting is my edge, my challenge. And my calling.
As I consider this challenge I find I relate very much to the words of Pathwork Lecture 199 — The Meaning of the Ego and Its Transcendence. I want to sit with the words of this lecture as they apply to my leadership and my fear of leadership.
Blessings and love over the holiday weekend,