Saturday, April 22, 2006

My 'New' Friend Judy

Have you ever done something that seemed so simple at the time and it turns out that the impact is far more enormous than you'd anticipated? I had one of those the other day and it's still flooring me. I realize that even though it's one of my very most favorite things to do that not everyone else loves to fly. So I was very hopeful that I could be of some bit of service for another Judy's Book member when she asked about how best to calm her fears about flying. I had no idea the responses would be so positive or that there would be so many of them.

Having done a fair amount of flight instructing, I came to the conclusion early on that one of the biggest deterrants to students taking the controls with confidence was their concern over hurting the airplane should they make a mistake. As soon as I worked that out, I made sure that the very first thing we did as soon as it was safe enough to do so was to let them stomp on the rudder pedals a bit and then rock the wings good and hard and then push the yoke back and forth too. Unless they were the airsick type, I got them really going - just not all three together; I didn't feel much like scaring any prospective students with getting ourselves into a spin, even if I did know how to get safely out of one.

Every single one of them felt more comfortable afterward once they realized that there was nothing they could do (at least with me there) that would hurt the airplane or cause us to fall out of the sky. Knowledge, when you get enough of it, is power.

Small person (though he doesn't seem to need it) is getting a taste of this concept. He agreed to be a control group subject in an autism study, part of which involves taking an MRI. While it's another thing that I don't quite get, I know that a lot of people are afraid of MRI's. The closeness of the tube and the odd noises apparently bother a lot of people. There definitely seems to be a pattern around how people react to noises that they can't place. I've never had an MRI myself but I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be a problem for me. I haven't noticed any claustrophobic tendencies and I figure instead of causing fear, the noises would be far more likely to seem like a puzzle to me that needs working out.

Small person doesn't particularly care for loud noises though, so I was glad when they gave him a "practice MRI" during our most recent visit to the research center. As it turned out, he had no trouble at all lying very still in a mocked up tube with headphones playing the normal noises of an MRI machine. In fact, he looked like he might be falling into a meditative trance! We'll play the CD they gave us at bedtime anyway so that he can be used to the sounds well enough by the time we do this for real that he can just fall asleep in there.

See - when we're afraid of the unknown, the best thing to do is to make it known. The same is true in business of course. When people don't know what's happening, they tend to make up the most dire scenario imaginable. It must be in our genes. The trick is to help each other identify what's really going on and to communicate that as much as possible. Even when the news isn't great, it's usually better than the story we've cooked up in our imaginations. And even if it weren't, it's far easier and better to make plans and take action based on the truth than on some fiction. We make better, more effective and more meaningful choices that way.

This sharing information must also be natural too even though the healthy version of it doesn't always take hold in corporate culture. It's a phenomenon I've been watching with interest as I watch Judy's Book continue to grow and evolve. People aren't just sharing reviews about goods and services. They're sharing information and ideas that go beyond stores and restaurants and who to trust with your car. They could be sharing these ideas with one another individually and yet there is something deeply satisfying about making sure that more than one or two other people can be helped by what you know. And in an era when we're so spread out and not in close connection with very many other people, the internet as a facilitator (as opposed to being a substitute) can be a real help at times. Plus, it solves the puzzle of figuring out who knows and who needs to know and matching them up.

How do you share information most effectively? Share what works for you by sending it to - or send whatever is currently keeping you awake with worry... either way, we'll all benefit as we work through it together.

What helps you move past fear into effective action?

Kimm Viebrock is a Certified Professional Coach who helps technology professionals and service-oriented technology groups develop and use their skills more effectively and increase their value within the larger organizaion, allowing them to do more, do it better and have more fun doing it. Kimm is devoted to finding the connectedness in life.