Given the huge disaster in Japan, unrest in the Middle East, and shaky stock markets we especially need to nurture our “inner guru” (see my last post) to dispense the darkness of pessimism, fear, and worry. The positive energy and celebration of St. Patrick’s Day may be just the reminder we need.

Jim Clemmer - Practical LeadershipOne of the myths of St. Patrick is that he drove the snakes from Ireland. That’s considered highly unlikely because there probably weren’t any there to begin with. This idea is believed to have originated from his zeal and success in converting the Irish to Christianity. So he chased the “serpents” of devils, demons, and paganism from the land. He was a “guru” or darkness disperser.

In the depths of the Great Depression, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared in his first inaugural address in 1933, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It’s hard to truly comprehend what a powerfully negative force fear is in our lives. Fear emanates from the dark side. Fear is at the root of hatred and evil. Fear is the source of stress and worry. Fear keeps us from speaking up. Fear causes us to pull back and give up. Fear reduces our field of awareness. Fear floods our thoughts with bleak fantasies of failure and destruction. Fear sets up dark energy fields attracting to us that which we most fear.

Fear feeds mistrust and destroys relationships. Fear drives abuse and cruelty. Fear erects walls and closes ears. Fear craves power and demands compliance. Fear fosters bullying and abuse of position power. Fear is afraid of participation, transparency, and openness. Fear does not own up to mistakes. Fear shuts down learning. Fear creates the zero-sum thinking that leads to a scarcity mentality. A scarcity mentality leads to greed and hoarding. Fear breeds conflict. Wallowers live in fear.

My sixth book, Moose on the Table: A Novel Approach to Communications @ Work, centered on a fictional character, Pete Leonard, as he allowed fear to seep deep into his life and slowly choke his effectiveness and happiness. Eventually, he found the steps leading out of the slippery pits of fear to soar high above the “getting-by line” to the heights of success.

Like a black hole in space, the gravitational pull of fear can be an incredibly powerful force sucking us into its crushing depths. Canadian pollster Allan Greg has found that a majority of people give in to worry and fear far too easily: “…of all the questions I have posed in polling throughout the years, perhaps my favorite is: ‘If someone told you something was safe and someone else told you it was unsafe, which one would you believe?’ A very small minority (10 percent) reported they would believe that this (undefined) something was safe, and 22 percent had the common sense to declare that it would depend on who was doing the telling and what they were talking about. But the vast majority – fully 68 percent – would accept the message of doom and gloom. That gives us a penetrating insight into the nature of fear and our reaction to the possibilities of exposure to risk.”

So today let’s nurture our inner guru and use the light of leadership to follow in St. Patrick’s fabled path to drive out the snakes of fear!