A Coaching Power Tool created by Natalia Bogoyavlenskaya
(Executive, Business and Entrepreneurship Coaching, GERMANY)
Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by working
No path?! Oh, dear, I’d better not set up myself on this journey! Can you relate to such response? I certainly can. There is a great appeal in staying by the things that worked for us and made us happy yesterday. The world however keeps moving on and it does it with ever increasing speed. There are new products, new technologies, new ways to communicate and many other things to try and make our life better as well as to help us to bring our best to the world and contribute more to the lives of those around. It is exciting but it is also scary. ‘What if’ questions keep popping up creating disencouraging scenarios in our imagination until our worrying self has ultimately overcome our explorative self. But are those worries justified? Can we answer without trying?.. ‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened,’ – said Mark Twain. So, does it mean we tend to ‘catastrophize’ the situation and, if so, why?
Indeed, neuroscientists and psychologists are telling us that jumping at a high risk opportunity is not in a human nature. In fact, it’s not in a nature of any living being with fear being one of the earliest automatic responses developed by evolution. Let’s look at the human brain consisting of different layers reflecting our evolutionary journey. Thus, we have the ‘oldest’ brain we inherited from reptiles, and it is that very part of our brain which is responsible for automatic fearful response. We have mammalian brain enriching us with further emotional responses. And we have human brain which is by and large responsible for cognitive processing of the information we are getting from our environment. According to Triune Brain theory, any environmental input will enter our brain via reptilian brain, and that’s exactly where the fear response is formed essentially affecting both our body behaviour and our further cognitive processing.
Fortunately, we can train ourselves to be less fearful and more open to new experiences. Thus, Akshay Nanavati suggests we can do it by regularly taking very little steps in the directions we found fearful and through the gained positive experience learn ourselves out of the corresponding fears and develop more explorative attitudes and behaviours.
Or, wait a minute, are you saying that your response to Antonio Machado’s greetings to a Traveller is actually different, and you are all for a new adventure? Any time? Anywhere? Awesome!.. Is it not?.. Well, not necessarily. In fact, jumping at any opportunity might be a characteristic of avoidance, too! For instance, it can be a sign of attempts to avoid current responsibilities or commitments. In addition, exploration may become reckless thus jeopardising not only your own wellbeing but also that of the people around you. So, when is it that our exploration and when is it that our avoidance are justified?
Arguably, it’s our goals that provide us with a useful perspective on the opportunities coming our way allowing to differentiate between those that are worth exploring and those we’d better avoid by looking into how much one or another opportunity is aligned or not aligned with our goals. Moreover, goals, when we genuinely believe in them and can define and picture in great detail, can create a powerful pull towards themselves giving us an extra courage to take a step into unknown thus overcoming the natural fear we discussed above and benefiting more from new experiences.