Accepting Anxiety

Last week I wrote about how to keep moving forward in times when we are feeling overwhelmed by challenges in our businesses. My posting today is on a similar theme—managing our anxiety.

Some business owners thrive on anxiety. They require the frenetic energy it delivers in order to do business. Others suffer severely under the weight of its emotional intensity. Neither extreme is desirable.

The ability to manage anxiety in a balanced way is a requirement for success whether yours is a family or non-family enterprise. Reprising last week’s water metaphor—with each set of rapids we navigate we get stronger. The struggles we encounter as business owners are a source of personal and professional growth.

A prerequisite to managing our anxiety is our acceptance of it.

I recently had a conversation with a young second-generation business owner about her process of managing anxiety as she grew the family business. In her view, seeing her challenges as a vital part of her personal and professional growth was an important first step.

To control the anxieties assaulting her, she learned to diminish their overwhelming character through acceptance of her feelings, instead of exhausting her inner resources in struggling against them.




This past week a number of my clients expressed feeling overwhelmed by unexpected challenges they are facing in their businesses.

Speaking metaphorically, I suggested to one client that he keep the nose of his kayak pointing downstream—that he turn his attention to steering day-to-day business operations. A crisis is not the time for big-picture planning. What is necessary is to focus on paddling past the next group of rocks—not to ponder which may be the best rocks. A few days later he wrote to tell me this phrase kept him moving forward, taking on each new challenge as it came to him.

Our faith in our business and in ourselves increases with each stroke of the paddle. Through flat water, white water, quiet pools, raging rapids, by keeping our kayaks pointed downstream we can successfully navigate the ever-changing currents of business.