Worry: I know there is a crisis waiting for me

By Thomas DeLong

Jana Jones was a successful, experienced manager who had run a multi-million dollar business. She projected the image of being able to do it all. She was COO of an internet consulting firm and had previously run a major piece of a large consulting firm. Decisive, energetic, smart, driven and with a wonderful family, she seemingly had it made. Her managerial style, however, did not suggest someone who had everything going for her. Instead, it reflected a high-need-for-achievement professional who had fallen into the worrying trap.

Jana made others nervous because of her anxiety-ridden managerial style. In good times and bad, she worried, and she shared her worries with others. She was a master at turning any positive possibility into five potential negative outcomes. After an interaction, her subordinates left more worried than before the interaction began. Colleagues often remarked that they avoided walking by her office because they could feel her worry.

Her horizon always seemed ominous; there was some disaster visible in the distance and approaching fast. One colleague lamented, “Every time I had what I thought was a good idea or an alternative way of looking at a problem Jana would convince me that my idea could cause the downfall of the company.”

But Jana, like many driven professionals today, often worries needlessly, excessively and counter-productively. While a moderate amount of worry may focus the mind, too much diminishes effectiveness and robs us of our ability to move outside our comfort zone (because there is even more to worry about outside of that zone!).

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