Many say that there are only two fundamental emotions: love and fear. I also believe that how we live is how we lead. So if how we live is how we lead, which emotion do we want to live by—fear or love?
With a fear-based approach to life, we are always on guard for the future. We sacrifice today for an uncertain—and unpredictable—tomorrow.
Fear comes from a belief that we will lose something we value in the future. A belief that someone or something threatens or will threaten the things we care about and want to hold onto. Ironically, the future, by definition, only exists in our imagination.
Fear has us defend what we have and launch preemptive attacks against perceived threats. Fear focuses our “what if” planning on potential catastrophes. Fear blocks our ability to be fully present in the moment. We hold off on fully celebrating the present because the good times might end at any moment. Preparing for the dangers of tomorrow, we accept collateral damage in our relationships with friends, family, and co-workers today.
Fear-based living leads to burnout and numbness after a while. It’s like the boy who cried “wolf”. Eventually, nobody listens to you.
Fear is the thief that robs us not only of the delight of the Now, but also of love. The fear of being vulnerable and the fear of losing control, the fear of commitment and the fear of the inevitable pain that love brings with it. All these fears and more displace love.
In his book Finding Inner Courage, poet and philosopher Mark Nepo says that there are two great regrets in life: the prospect of dying without truly having lived, and the prospect of living without truly having loved.
Love as an approach gives us a life that is inspiring and sustainable.
Love is expressed in the moment. Love brings the present into focus. We love how love makes us feel…right now. It illuminates and animates our life.
We reduce our stress and anxiety when we lower our guard, pay full loving attention to what is present all around us, and face and embrace everything that life sends us. Love’s exuberant energy encourages everyone we touch to reach higher, to experiment and learn, to grow. The better “now” we create through love opens up new possibilities for the future.
This is “no regrets” living.
Consider what love-based leadership offers. We can spend less time predicting and planning for the future (it never turns out the way we expect anyway). Less time analyzing and reporting on the past. Less time assigning blame for what went wrong and investigating who knew what when.
Instead, we can spend more time transforming the present and influencing others with our exuberance. We can learn quickly from our experiences and shift our attention back to “What now?” We can bring this perspective to bear no matter what the circumstances. People around us will be inspired to new levels of performance. And they’ll spread the “love” to those around them.
How do you choose to live and to lead—from fear or from love?