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  • Stephen Scott Johnson

Face the Fears that F#ck your Future

“2020 be like” has become one of the most popular memes of our social discourse, framing a multiverse of chaotic, poignant, and unfathomable events. It has been a year of struggle, opportunity and reinvention towards that which is truly significant. During Melbourne’s 112-day lockdown we have all had to stabilise and reprioritise whilst fear and confusion continuously threaten to undermine. As we approach the new year with all of the courage we can muster, I want to share a few self-mastery ideas to help you focus and enter 2021 with more optimism and less stress.


In 2015 I wrote a book about conscious leadership, titled Emergent, inspired by my experience working as an engagement strategist on grassroots movements with the United Nations and Alliance for Climate Protection – a call-to-action to resist status quo and ignite a higher purpose. At the heart of this book is a model for conscious leadership with three essential tenets – Mindset, Mantra and Mojo. Mastery of these tenets offers a beacon of hope and invitation to everyday heroes to say “no” to fear and rise powerfully from the ashes of 2020 – to be the ripple of change society needs. 


One of my biggest learnings this year is that ultimately, whatever cards we are dealt, we still get to choose how we play the game. Whilst the struggle with fear is real – we are only victims to its devastation if we allow it. Here’s the thing: conditioning from past painful experiences determines how we show up in life – whether we rise to greet opportunity or fall to the quality of our thinking and beliefs. Thus, it’s worthwhile knowing one’s conditioning to fear in order to prevent it undermining joy, freedom and success. It’s like the Orbiter amusement park ride that spins chaotically until we lose equilibrium and vomit. In order to have mastery over fear, we must consciously disrupt self-preservation programming and get off the ride, so to speak, or the cycle of suffering continues. 


We repeat until we resolve


In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt launched his presidency by telling Depression-weary Americans that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." His bold and immediate confrontation of fear helped to galvanise a worried nation. Importantly, fear is a biological response we are born with to protect us from danger and death. However, ego has perverted fear into a mechanism for maintaining control, comfort, and acceptance. This might seem like a bitter pill to swallow. Considering almost all fear we experience is imagined – a mental construct created by unresolved pain and mental impulses that we fuel with limited thinking. It sounds bad but it is actually good news. Through commitment to self-mastery and practice of the conscious leadership tenets, even those prone to anxiety demonstrate that it is possible to find freedom from fear and realise potential. Which means so can you.


Here is the conscious leadership model from my book that shows the interrelation between the tenets of Mindset, Mantra and Mojo.


  1. MINDSET– the established set of attitudes or disposition held by someone; the condition of your mind.


  1. MANTRA – the narrative and guiding set of principles that serve as a focal point for action. In this instance, your dialogue with fear.


MOJO – the energy and character that attracts people to you and generates success; your ability to realise potential.



I call this process of reflection ‘Getting out of Autopilot’. Start by examining yourself without judgment to Discover where fear shows up – how it triggers you to act and react in a range of situations. Specifically, you want to identify where fear is your default impulse. With awareness it becomes easier to recognise conditioning to fear. 

Next, Recalibrate negative patterns with more useful ones. This is about reframing fear-based responses that sabotage our success and relationships into more useful ones. For example, instead of using fear to manipulate others, focus on what you can authentically influence. Or, instead of catastrophising and creating drama to illicit pity or deflect attention, such as when you feel vulnerable, focus on what you can control and practice gratitude.

The process is enlightening, and hopefully you will gain a new perspective and start to show up differently – to make meaning and Manifest the life you truly desire. Keeping a daily journal is a powerful reflection tool to capture thoughts and past experiences and to see ourselves objectively. You may know of similar systems of development from luminaries, Don Miguel Ruiz, ‘The Four Agreements’ and Byron Katies, ‘The Work’. Remember, fear is a mental construct and self-mastery is a life-long endeavour. I’m not implying one can simply ‘flick the switch’ and not be afraid anymore. The conscious leadership tenets are a simple way to get grounded and establish new habits, to face the fears that f#ck your future, which will ultimately change your life.


Until next time...


Stephen


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