Books that inspire
Books that Inspire Me: #6 He Still Moves Stones
September 25, 2021
Books that inspire
Books that Inspire Me: #8 Art & Fear
October 3, 2021

Books that Inspire Me: #7 Driving Fear Out of the Workplace

This is the seventh in a series of posts in which I share thoughts on a book that has inspired me over the years. 
It’s called awfulizing: Imagining the worst possible outcome. In his book The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the New Millennium, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi showed that for a variety of biological and evolutionary reasons, the human mind automatically gravitates toward negative, frightening, and depressing thoughts. 

After reading this book, I began paying more attention and, sure enough, noticed the tendency in myself and in others to immediately latch on to negative assumptions. We’ve all been seeing that during the pandemic, including the polarizing negative assumptions that people are making about others.

As Jim Collins describes in his book How the Mighty Fall, when leaders are acting out of fear – which is often what happens when they are trapped in negative and pessimistic assumptions – they act in ways that bring about the very thing they fear.

The title of this book comes from one of W. Edwards Deming’s 14 points for total quality management: drive fear out of the workplace. This has become an especially daunting challenge during the pandemic, this time of unprecedented change.

In a survey of California nurse leaders currently being conducted by my company, more than 50% of respondents “are very concerned about the levels of anger and anxiety” among frontline staff, and another 10% fear their facilities will face serious problems resulting from caregiver PTSD. 

As leaders (and we can all be leaders, with or without a management title) we need to be acutely aware of this tendency toward awfulizing with hope and determination to achieve best possible outcomes. 

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