Develop a non-anxious presence

By Jim LaDoux
Two my favorite books to read on lowering people's level of anxiety include Edwin Friedman's book, A Failure of Nerve, and Steve Cuss's book titled, Managing Leadership Anxiety.  Listed below are a few of my insights on anxiety based on these two books. 
1 | The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change.
  • What are some indicators of a person's willingness to change?
  • What are some typical tactics people employ to suggest that they're willing, to change?

2 | A major criterion for judging the anxiety level of any society is the loss of its capacity to be playful.
  • How often to people laugh, share a joke, or are playful at current church meetings?
  • What other approaches do you use to lesson people's anxiety?
  • Do you feel that playfulness and creativity are related?

3 | When you accept the mantle of leadership, expect there to be slings and arrows.
  • Why are leaders often surprised by the behavior's of others upon resistance to ideas or new approaches?
  • What types of guidelines or rules are helpful to have in place before having consequential conversations?
  • How do you prepare yourself to be the receiver of people's slings and arrows?

4 | The grass is only greener when you're not caring for your own lawn.
  • What would caring for your own lawn look like in your own setting?
  • How do you help people see "what is" and "what's present" rather than what's missing?
  • How do you help people focus on what they can do rather than belabor what they can't do?

5 | Stay connected while changing yourself rather than trying to fix others.
  • What is your default mode when responding to people who react out of anxiety?
  • What are some strategies you employ for being a less anxious presence in the midst of people's anxiety?
  • How do you stay close and engaged with people who are difficult to deal with?

6 | The pursuit of data is addicting. Collecting more data allows people to delay decisions.
  • How do you know when enough information is enough?
  • How do you know if you've gathered the right information from the right sources?
  • How do you help people make informed decisions without having all the facts on hand?

7 | One of the major limitations of imagination’s fruits is the fear of standing out.
  • When's the last time you stuck your neck out, took a stand, or suggested a new way forward?
  • What's the worst thing that could happen if others challenged your motives, decision-making, or new ideas?
  • What would leading by proposal look like for you? What proposals would you invite others to consider?

8 | Striving or achieving success as a leader isn't without pain or loss.
  • What kind of support systems do you have in place to weather the challenges of being a leader?
  • Who are your mentors and roles models? Who else helps you be a person of influence?

9 | Quick fixes prevent leaders from doing the hard work that's necessary to create new realities.
  • What's the difference between technical and adaptive changes?
  • What shifts in people's actions, attitudes, assumptions, and approaches help facilitate adaptive change?
  • What are you doing now, or could do in the future, to develop adaptive leaders?

10 | Concentrate on helping leaders to become better defined and to deal adroitly with the sabotage.
  • What type of definition would you seek to create in your leaders?
  • What are the leadership truths you embrace? What grounds you as a leader? As a spiritual leader?
  • What role does uncertainty play in the development of adaptive, self-differentiated leaders?
  • What would be your next faithful step in becoming a more self-differentiated leader?


  1. Where does anxiety show up in you?  How do you manage it?
  2. When and where is anxiety most prevalent in your ministry setting? 
  3. How do your leaders cope with anxiety?
  4. How do you help your leader manage anxiety well?
  5. What assumptions do you need to let go of to better manage anxiety?

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