Thursday, January 8, 2009

Origins of Fear

I just finished a meeting with the project team. I feel relieved that the business leader was able to lead the meeting. In the past, she had some difficult moments but now I think she has adjusted well. With good leaders, I think that followers like me are less stressed. Actually I am not just a follower but the technical project leader as well. I think I will never be a good leader unless I have faith on others. I also have this fear that people will not do as they are asked to by their leaders and are only waiting to get something from the deal. I think this is the source of my fears and anxiety - the deep feeling that people are out to screw your life.

I wonder why and when I have reached this situation. What incident in my life has caused me to be this way? Is it the loss of my first love? Or the lack of parental attention in my childhood? I have become cynical and hard eyed that I am unable to trust people completely. Perhaps I put pressure on myself when I actually should not. I always feel that I should be doing something or the other party will feel that I am not worthy. So I stress myself and bring myself to pressure during situation where I need to exert leadership. During these times, especially with so many changes in the organization I am also feeling lost especially with the ongoing projects that I still have to deliver. Add to this confusing mix is the impending transfer that will turn my family upside down.

So I like it when other people take the lead. I have just finished listening to Suetonius 'The Lives of the 12 Caesars.' In terms of my leadership style, I may identify more with Mark Anthony rather than Julius Caesar. A leader himself but lacking the greatness and confidence of a Julius Caesar. So I am more of a follower but when thrust into leadership positions, I hesitate - filled with self doubt. I think I need to develop my leadership skills more if I want to succeed in life. I have not had the chance to have a lot of people report to me but during those short periods of time, I think those that have worked under me have greatly appreciated my leadership. I guess I have problems when I have to lead a group of aggressive and contentious people. I lose focus and confidence.

This is the problem I face when I tackle new projects when I have to learn new things. I am not the subject matter expert so I have to scramble and understand the subject. So I appreciate working with good leaders and I have had the chance to work closely with at least 3 people who I admire: the boss man, my old French friend and my country man in my last project. I appreciated working with them and the thing in common with them are: concern for their employees, demanding, hardworking, intelligent, leading by example, dedication, visionary and confident. I wonder how I can get that drive to be a leader. I think I have lost that drive when I transferred here but had flashes of my old enthusiasm when I had to a chance to work with these 3 inspiring leaders.

I think my main fault is that I distract myself too much. I fill my mind with too many books, movies and trivial experiences to make myself a well-rounded personality that I am lost when real and difficult events start to affect me. So I am often at a lost when the speed of everyday work life start to overwhelm me. So my first reaction is one of escape: to further bury my mind into new things, away from the problem. Last week, I finally had a chance to start sorting my stuff; getting rid of all those magazines or paper that I keep in the hope of reading one day and avoid missing some important stuff. I was able to do it by having a drink of brandy which help me steady myself. I guess if I concentrate I can focus on the subject at hand that I can address the challenge.

I noticed that my old friend who was also the business leader in our project is very calm and collected when faced with a challenging situation. He focuses on the issue, asks questions and tries to solicit down-to-earth solutions. He does not panic. On the other, if I was faced with a similar situation, I would probably get excited, start thinking of some sophisticated and new solution that would solve the problem. I am willing to try out new things not based on actual experience but on something that I have read. I guess I value more the things that I know than the actual experiences that I have.

I noticed this failing in me because I underrate my experiences. I also don't have faith in my fellow men which combines into an anxiety filled snob who prefers to spend more time in leisure - reading books and other activities but not actually working. So my usual reaction is to try to impress people, to show them that I am qualified. It is this insecurity that I should control and avoid thinking too much to impress. Instead try to force the mind to think of past experiencess and actual success that stories read in a book. Some book learning maybe good but should be applied subtly in actual situations. The trick is to keep both feet on the ground and accept one's short comings. I think if one stops pretending than one can become a true leader. Or maybe some who is just realistic and down to earth.

No comments: