Coach’s Challenge: What Is the Mother of Your Fears?

December 20, 2011

mother of your fearsExecutive Coaches help clients discover the gap between their expected  and actual outcomes. The easiest way to bridge the outcome gap is by eliminating unproductive or counterproductive behaviors. These behaviors aren’t hard to identify because they’re usually wrapped around a particular fear. Once the fear, behaviors, and consequences are brought to light, clients are usually receptive to behavior modification.

The toughest challenge for executive coaches and their clients comes from trying to uproot the underlying cause of unproductive or counterproductive behaviors. To help clients better understand this challenge, David Whyte uses the Old English heroic epic poem set in Scandinavia, Beowulf. In this 5th century tale, the noble king of Danes hires Beowulf (the hero mercenary) to kill Grendel (the monster creating instability in the region). Beowulf and his men are successful at slaying Grendel and are rewarded with half the kingdom. Celebration ensues until Grendel’s mother avenges her son’s death the next day. The aggrieved mother, it turns out, is a far greater threat than Grendel.

Leaders must address not only their fears, but also the mother of those fears. What is the mother of your fears? And are you willing to face her?

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