I’ve been facing my fear for about a year now.  Prior to that I had 50 years on the planet not even knowing I head this fear.  How can that be possible?

Well my supervisor said I had ‘complex defensive structures’.   When she said it I was rather pleased because it sounded cool.  But then after going through some seriously painful learning it turns out it is not so cool after all.

In challenger spirit terms we talk about witnessing the establishment and this is what I am discussing here. If my establishment was a house, I think in my case I’ve been witnessing the building without ever paying attention to the foundations.  Perhaps my not-so-cool complex defensive structure could be a massively thick concrete floor, which provides stability but also means the foundations remain very difficult to access.

To be fair to me it is no easy to see the foundations of the building, in fact mostly it is not possible without some serious excavation.  However why bother to go to all the effort when there is a nice solid concrete floor in place?

In my case the fear I’ve been facing is the fear of abandonment.  The ways I in which I have avoided facing it are many and varied.  So much so that I didn’t realise I had this fear until, well, I suddenly realised it.  I suppose I am lucky that at least this happened before my house fell down.

My complex defensive structures have included:

  • Wearing armour (not literally!) to protect myself from the risk of vulnerability
  • Steering clear of people (again not literally  - just emotionally) of people I thought would abandon me
  • Latching on to people who thought the sun shone out of my arse
  • Telling a story that I was afraid of nothing, not even death, and telling it so well and so often that I believed it to be true
  • Using the extensive self personal and professional development I’ve done on myself as ‘evidence’ of an establishment that had been fully and comprehensively witnessed
  • Developing a mindfulness practice as demonstration of some sort of enlightenment

All the time my fear remained steadfastly unknown to
me.  It was like I wasn’t looking for it.  It was like I was witnessing the building and yet paid no attention to what might be in the foundations down below; perhaps even forgetting about any existence of the foundations.

In case you are wondering I only got to see and realise all this stuff after I started to face my fear. 

So the point of this is…  What are in your foundations?  What aren’t you witnessing that is there? 

Also, why do we need to witness the foundations?  On one level, as long as the house is still standing I guess we don’t, particularly if we have a thick concrete floor to help us feel safe and solid.

But I guess there is a risk of subsidence, or perhaps of it falling down.  If we want to add more storeys or just extend a bit, or even just be resilient enough to survive and thrive in flooded autumns and harsh winters.  So perhaps your foundations are worth a look?

My story is personal, and I have asked you personal questions.  But we could also be talking about our organisations.  What are the foundations of your business and what shape are they in? 

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