Monday, December 08, 2008

A Personal Story

I woke up early Saturday morning. As I lay in bed trying to fall back to sleep, it occurred to me that the work for my biggest client was slowing down and I wasn't sure what I could do to ensure it continued. A prospect had emailed me earlier this week with some ideas to scale back the work I had proposed to do for him. And a couple of other prospects I was hoping to close hadn't returned some emails I'd sent over the past couple of weeks.

Despite enjoying one of the busiest months since I went out on my own, I allowed that morning's sleep to be ruined by thoughts and worries over the future. Such is the life of an independent contractor, and given the current economic climate, these worries are affecting many others as well.

Thankfully, an article in the Sunday New York Times pointed out that this fear is a natural process of our brain when confronted with uncertainty and threat. "When Fear Takes Over Our Brains," by Gregory Berns of Emory University, furthermore, reminds us that "when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risktaking are turned off."

And this is the problem with recession or whatever you want to call it--people and businesses stop exploring and taking risks. Other people read in the newspaper (every single day) about the hunkering down of these groups, become afraid, and hunker down themselves.

Berns talks about what he is doing during this time to get himself and his brain thinking again, moving past the fear. Sharing his own fears and plans is a gift and helps me focus on what I should be doing. This week, I'll be working hard on all my current projects. I'll be calling prospects back who I haven't heard from. I'l be thinking of new things I can do with may big client and proposing them. And I'll be reflecting on other actions I can start and other opportunities I can pursue.

Because I won't get paralyzed thinking about the bad things that could happen. And if we all can put the fear aside, and start exploring and taking risks--even small ones--we will begin to shape the next era, beyond this recession.

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