Do you know what is the funniest thing about insecurity? That it is a good thing and also a bad thing at the same time. Yes, you heard me right. And this my friends is not just an academic argument but also a practical one. Your disagreement with me at this stage of the article is normal, it will cause insecurities in either of us if we do not come on the same page, by the end of it, ok, it was a bad joke, let’s put it behind us. We are the sociable species in the animal kingdom, which enables us to mingle with people in our immediate surroundings. We spend time and effort in becoming like others, you see we descended from monkeys. Aping is our first nature. What makes things rather complex is that we are also living animals with ambitions and from it stems everything positive as well as negative. It is counter-intuitive to give away one of the key conclusions right in the introduction paragraph. But let the instinct take over the reasoning for now. Insecurity in your growing years is more useful than it is in years when people see you as grown up or expect you to behave like one. It is ok for a front line executive of an organisation to be insecure but not for those who sit from higher to highest chairs. When I say so, do I forget that even the C Suite executives, CXOs or another dude/gal from across the street who kept getting lucky over the years masquerading as a big deal leader, is also made of flesh and blood and therefore will have the tendencies that are prevalent in people who have just begun. But if both the grown-ups and the infants behave in the same manner; what is the point of growth? You get the point I hope. Education, well, quality education is a rare privilege in our society, sadly. I really wish for it to change but till it doesn’t it will do a great deal of damage to us, in ways more than one, it cripples the potential of our collective evolution.
All undesired and unhappy outcomes like poor performance, lack of equitable culture, poor infrastructure both physical and logical, regressive approach to change, the tunnelled vision of future, unskilled manpower etc, even organisational insecurities can also be turned around and corrected. But while other deficiencies require rather simpler framework change, insecurities take longer to go away. It is chronic in nature. I have said, a few lines ago, that it is a good thing in junior staff. Why do I say so? Let me answer, irrespective of the industry and the geography, that you choose you’ll find that bottom of the pyramid is occupied by the workhorses, the real people, the real deal: if I may say so. These are the people who work with their hands, efficiency from these groups is often valued more than anything and perhaps everything else that they bring to the table. This class of workers ( we are all workers, don’t you take off on Mayday?) are generally young, in their early twenties, beaming with energy and at the pink of health. Full of desire and hopes. The design is thus laid out to make this section compete with each other fiercely. You would notice a plethora of reward and recognition being organised. People are made to compete in useless disciplines, the idea is to keep the animal at the boil. If they get easy with their life, the wheel of progress or let’s just say production will come at a halting stop. Therefore, it helps overall progress. When young people are insecure, they mostly take it sportingly, also because they haven’t build anything which they consider worth protecting from intrusion. It is like a fresh start when age is by your side things look easier than they actually are. Your neurons fire and you learn to hop, skip and jump, it is all in the good spirit. Things are not quite the same though when the grown-ups become insecure. Their fears cost heavily on them in the long term and catastrophically in the near term on the area that they control. Some of the symptoms of the big boys and grown-up girls surrendring to insecurities are.
- Fear of getting exposed.
- Difficulty accepting change.
- The inability of accepting the mistake.
- Killing the messenger without reading the message.
- Forming allies to counter the force.
- Ugly politicking.
The number one mistake that these smart men and women make is falling in the trap of believing that they are too clever and they can go undetected. Let me bring it open to you; people who have the eye for it will see it even if it were to exist between blinks and those who don’t have an eye can always borrow binoculars; so it is just unwise to think you can pull it off. You can’t so face it.
Let me also say this that I sympathise with you, it is not easy to let go of things. We are all control freaks, in ways we do not even recognise. For instance, don’t each one of us have a certain way in which we prefer our drinks (both hot and cold, both intoxicating and toxic). Ordinary people call it preference and psychologists categorise this tendency as the desire to control. And at some level, one has to concede that we are not only social, ambitious, but also combative and above all animals. To learn, we must make mistakes. But because we are the most intelligent animals, we must quickly detect our own problems and correct them to get better. And there is absolutely no shame in the minds of the wise in accepting their follies because they know to err is human.
Let’s look at possible ways to ward off the demon of insecurity. Before we move any further let’s accept this that we are all good people deep inside and wish to remain that way but when challenges appear insurmountable we sometimes lose our judgement and do things which we initially are not proud of but because we have difficulty accepting our own errors we start defending those errors and in no time to create a smoke screen of evidence, repeat it so many times that it becomes our natural response. But it is never over .. should you wish to change, you can do it, right now. All it needs is a sacrifice of some ego, courage and above all conviction.
Here are a few things that you can try: Antidots to insecurities.
Be discourteous to yourself: If you happen to spot any of the above symptoms, stop, take a reflective pause and tell yourself that you would not let yourself getting reduced to a sulking looser and will make amends. You have built something worth protecting but what is sensible is to better it, open it up for others to collaborate. Your signature will not evaporate if you show a larger heart and get people involved in your mission. The only way for you to not become history is by letting others make your creation a part of their present; it is a great way of giving yourself a lease of life.
Bring objectivity: You’ve to be your own worst critic. Detach yourself with your creation and also yourself. You must know that you are not as important as you think you are. You are just as ordinary today as you were the day you started. Day one innocence and day one ego is worth gold, preserve it. Your hard work, dedication, grit has got you all that you’ve and if you do not learn to let it go you will lose it in no time. Things change, the grandeur of the past is your legacy it may and may not impress others. In fact, you shouldn’t even expect others to find your story awesome. Remember this, if your story is good .. it will be told and re-told. Has Mirza Galib died? Not really, even today, you and I relish his work. Very little do people know that he was receptive to feedback ( Read Diwan-e-galib) you’d know. Look for problems and when you find them announce it to relevant people and correct them quickly but not quietly and certainly not secretively. Coward hide mistakes and you are not coward, or so I hope.
Re-count your victories: You’ve won, there is no one who has not won! Some victories are bigger than the other, some attract more applause than the other but at its core every victory is important and it shapes your character. Every action will be judged on the plains of morality, ethics, law & performance (social, business and financial). Victory is achieving your goals; if you plan to wake up at 5 AM and run 4 miles every day, every single day that you manage to do it you win. Remember, you fought illiteracy, if your teacher went insecure and did not pass on the knowledge of letters to you, your life would have ended before it even got off to a start. So the act of giving is core to success. Every time you have won, someone willingly, gave up something for you; recognise it and make that pool bigger. Don’t be another ‘I-me-myself’ fool.
Commit to renewing: Promise yourself that you would not get old. Well, you will get chronologically, your body will get tired, organs will give up slowly on you, but your mind must not get old. Your commitment to stay mint should not get dusted ever. Day one mentality, for as long as you can keep, it will serve you well. Remain agile, keep learning newer and better ways of doing things; make yourself uncomfortable – the need to grow and way of it do not change. In doing so you will need partners, welcome them to join you in your quest and achieve together.
Whatever virtue helps you appreciate people, make the group better and bigger is a good one to champion and in doing so your insecurities will fade, almost automatically.