Fear and FOMO


Recently, I’ve not been too well. A stomach thing which turned into a horrible thing.

Pain that left me prostrate on the floor, often weeping. It would come without warning, and then leave again just as fast, leaving me exhausted, unable to eat, uncomfortable. Fearful.

The Pain was one thing, but the Fear was another.

Fear of when it would return, Fear of leaving the house just in case, but mostly, Fear of its cause. I became consumed. I researched my symptoms obsessively. I cut food out of my diet, gave up dairy, wheat, spicy food. (I didn’t give up wine of course. I was scared, but I wasn’t that scared).

I constantly thought of the worst case scenario. Fear consumed me. The Fear was huge in my mind.

After much prodding, poking, scanning and pints of blood, it’s nothing serious. Just a dodgy gallbladder. It needs to come out.

And just like that, the Fear was gone.

Why? Two reasons.

The Fear went away because I had knowledge, information, power. I was able to make a plan. Ignorance feeds fears. They thrive in the gaps of knowledge and communication. Knowing nothing is scary. Information, knowledge, truth. They set you free. If the news is bad, good, indifferent or unexpected, knowledge is control. Knowledge gives you power.

This applies to the employment and organisational context too, not just the health one. Think of the employee who has heard the rumours of redundancy, closure, merger. Even if they find out that yes, their position is impacted, you can finally plan, take action, own the situation.

You can’t guarantee the future. You can’t always have good news. But you can tell your employees the truth, even if it is unpalatable. Yes, a few might exit stage left, by either scouring the job adverts or just engaging a bit less. But most of them will thank you for it, dig in with you and endure the tough times. They will recognise your authenticity.

Leaders. Take away as much fear as you can. Tell the truth, unless you have got a very good reason not to.

One final thing. The second reason that the fear has gone, is that I have booked into a hospital that has WIFI. Apparently I was the first person to ever ring up and ask this. Maybe I should reflect on that a little…. but I probably won’t!

10 thoughts on “Fear and FOMO

  1. Hmmm – I’m almost with you, and yet I can’t get past this: ‘Tell the truth, unless you have got a very good reason not to.’ I may be wrong, I often am – but to me this statement implies it’s OK to lie at times. I think you can always tell the truth, even if the truth is something like ‘I’m really sorry – I can’t tell you x, or y or z right now. I’ll let you know more the minute I can.’ Zat make sense? Always enjoy coming by here, thanks for writing.

    • Thanks Doug. On first draft, it said ‘tell the truth, always’. I changed it because I thought maybe I was being unrealistic. I favour the former, but my background conversation was that sometimes there are things that might cause more fear that are better left unsaid, or will cause pain to an individual. Or maybe that’s just a cop out. One to ponder some more I guess.

  2. What a great blog. Glad it’s sorted but a leader’s responsibility to take the fear out of work is an underrated and underdeveloped thing. Great call. HRs responsibility to replace the fear with intelligence, awareness and responsibility is another.

    Hospital with wifi – essential.

    # for your operation? Unnecessary.

    # for your recovery? Let’s do it. #MendingGemma

  3. Suffering from a dodgy (what a benign term!) gallbladder myself I can empathize: I wrote a series of posts called The Fall attempting to describe the indescribable pain from same… What a good perspective you have here Gem: best of luck with the surgery!

  4. Great post Gemma! Being informed is absolutely one of the best ways to get past fear, as is the acceptance that you don’t always have to have a Plan B or safety net.

    Take care and get well soon.

  5. Great post Gemma,
    I agree with Doug, tell the truth always. If you can’t tell the truth what is the point. Yes, it might hurt the individual, but then the emphasis should be put on how you frame that truth to them to lessen the impact, but the truth should always be told.

    I hope you get well soon xx #mendinggemma

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