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overcoming fears

Leaders : Being controlling won’t stop you crashing

Leaders : Being controlling won’t stop you crashing

by Moyra Mackie on April 17, 2016

It’s a bitterly cold day and it finally begins to snow.  I’m due to take my four-year-old son to an assessment afternoon at what I hope will be his new school, which is ten miles away and in the middle of the countryside. I phone to see if the event is still on and an officious sounding school secretary declares it’s not snowing over there.

As far as the school is concerned it’s this day or no day

I strap my son into his car seat.  Once off the main road and onto the twisting country lanes, snow covers the road and is getting thicker all the time.  I try to balance the anxiety of getting there on time with the need to crawl along in second gear.  I try to keep my mood calm and light for the sake of the little blonde boy in the back seat, whose trusting face I can see in the rear view mirror.

At every twist in the road the car wheels lose grip and it takes successively longer to regain control.  Then there’s a corner where the road dips away sharply and I have no choice but to brake.  That’s when the car starts sliding.

It’s true what they say about scary events happening in slow motion, as I’ve got plenty of time to register the steep bank on one side of the road and a row of trees on the other.

When we’re fearful and in a hostile environment our instinct is to control

Somehow I resist the urge to brake.  Instead I let the engine stall and the car continues to glide, turning around and coming to a halt facing the way we had come. We’ve avoided hitting anything and I eventually get us to the school by over-riding any instinct to brake.

I was learning and adapting quickly.

Many times survival is about controlling our response to, rather than seeking to control, the environment

Neuroscience shows us that fear makes us irrational; our amygdala takes charge and short-circuits our capacity to reason and think clearly.

fearful controlling leadersControlling our fear, shortening the amount of time our amygdala is in charge, is the only way we can respond effectively to the environment.

Companies are acting as if they never got the fear memo 

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Dislodging the Public Speaking Demon

Dislodging the Public Speaking Demon

by Guest contributor Richard Smith on August 9, 2013

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public” ~ George Jessel


It is a common fear. We all recognise the symptoms – sweaty palms, loss of appetite, restlessness, dry mouth, shortness of breath, a tight throat, nausea, dread…

Anxiety about public speaking impacts most of us at some point in our lives

To a large number of people it can become a barrier in their careers. The medical term is Glossophobia, and it’s a big one. Fear of public speaking routinely comes top in the list of the biggest phobias worldwide.

To those scheduled to speak, the discomfort emerges early

Thinking about standing in front of the audience raises anxiety, which becomes a demon on our backs.

A conscious effort not to think about public speaking can work for short spells, but this is an avoidance tactic and soon the demon reminds us of his presence, larger and fiercer than before.

What is the source of the phobia of public speaking?

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Guest contributor Richard Smith

Richard Smith is a leader in the environmental industry, consulting with the University of Hertfordshire. His role includes consulting, management training and executive coaching. He is a believer in development and learning, especially in relational settings. The day we stop learning is our last on Earth, until then we never know the limits of how much we can grow.

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