“I’m worried about work. It’s hard to get new business with so many other providers in the marketplace now. I feel like I’m not pulling my weight. And I’ve got staff to think about too.”

Sonya looked pretty stressed out. If she was looking to win new business at that moment, she’d have sent prospects scurrying. Nothing is more unattractive than someone in survival mode.


Tough times need innovation and creativity, not stress and hand-wringing. Worry keeps us cycling in a frenzy of doubt, dread, and desperation. Conviction is what gets us through the tough times.

Worry sows seeds of weeds in your garden of conviction.

This is what Sonya was worried about:

Reputation: What will happen to her reputation if she fails to bring in new business and keep up the status of rainmaker?

Relevance: How can she continue to prove her worth to the organisation (so she doesn’t get the boot)?

Responsibility: How will she keep feeding work to her junior staff? They all depend on her.

Even though these are genuine concerns, they do nothing to move towards solutions. These are essentially navel gazing worries. Attention is focused firmly on ‘what will happen to me?’ Sonia’s attention is inwardly focused.

This is where the opportunity is: we can shift from inward focus to outward focus.

We can shift concern from Reputation to legacy, to figuring out what our real Purpose is.

We can shift from worrying about Relevance to focusing on what contribution we can make to our clients and stakeholders – to the Person we wish to serve.

We can shift the weight of Responsibility to the act of engagement and inviting our staff to be Part of something meaningful.

When Peter Baines established Hands Across the Water, he took a quantum leap from inward focus to outward focus. After the tsunami in South East Asia in 2004, he led international identification teams to help sort the bodies. The sheer amount of orphaned children inspired him to set up an organisation that established homes for the kids. They are committed to long term sustainability and have helped set up ongoing businesses to keep the homes open. Read more about this organisation here: http://handsacrossthewater.org.au/

I’m sure Peter dealt with many obstacles and had many people depending on the successes of his endeavours. Instead of cowering in doubt, he turned his attention outwards, on others, and that helped drive through to solutions. The world is a better place because Peter did not linger in dread and desperation.

We don’t need to set up orphanages to make a difference. All we need to do is let go of feeling small and reach out to another human being and hold them in our attention.

Here are some questions to help weed out the worries:

Reputation to Purpose:

  • What really matters to me?
  • What do I give a real sh*t about?
  • What makes me angry/ sad/ frustrated?

Relevance to Person:

  • What are their problems?
  • How can I help them?
  • What would make the biggest difference to them?

Responsibility to Part of:

  • How can I get them involved?
  • What can I share about purpose?
  • How can I encourage them to look for their own answers to purpose and helping solve problems for others?

When we answer these questions, we have our attention firmly focused outwards and our self-interest does not consume our thoughts. Conviction comes from outward focus, on how we can be of service.

Asking, ‘How can I help?’ is better than ‘Where will I get work?’

What do you worry about? How can you shift it to an outward focus?