Anxiety: How to channel it into your work

Anxiety levels high? Worried? It’s true that because worriers think through difficulties, they can be effective problem-solvers. But at a personal level we all know how enervating and pointless most worrying is: there’s little to be gained from it. But for companies? That’s quite different.

After all, they operate in a more ferocious environment. Half of new businesses in the US don’t make it to their fifth birthday. So for them, alertness to danger tends to pay off. Take the late head of chipmaker Intel, Andrew Grove, who famously entitled his autobiography Only the Paranoid Survive.

In it he confessed to constant anxiety about everything from products getting screwed up to morale slacking off. Or people figuring out how to do what we do better or cheaper.

The anxiety of CxOs

In fact, Grove suggests that CxOs (or senior management team) are always ‘last to know’ guys. They get bad news very late. Middle management will filter news before presenting it to you. They will present data in a format so that they look smart, tough, intelligent and proactive. No one wants to tell the bad news.

Companies that are failing because they don’t see change coming can be miserable places, adding to our personal anxieties. The trick is to create a culture in your company so that people are open without the anxiety of being reprimanded or ignored. In this environment a vigilant company that can move swiftly to head off competitive dangers can be a fulfilling place to work. And this is an antidote to the personal worrying that keeps us awake at night.

Maybe we can look to Seneca for advice?

True happiness is to enjoy the present without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied, for he that is wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.

What do you think? Leave a comment below:

Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

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