Halloween is a scary holiday even for an optimistic person like me. There’s no better time of the year to think about what scares us. When we acknowledge our fears, we can take action and transform the things that make us cringe.
The things that scare me range from unreasonable fears to concerns that are very real. When I’m on the NYC subway or PATH, sometimes I worry about getting stuck under the Hudson River. That’s scary.
I’m frightened by the funding cuts for services and organizations helping women and families. The most visible is Planned Parenthood, an organization with roots going back to 1921. Lies are being told which threaten its existence. I have always believed that a foundation of our democracy is to support people to live better lives. The opposite scares me.
I have chills from a recent op-ed in the New York Times. Statistics reveal that America is falling way behind the rest of the world in its support of working families as the divide between the rich and the middle class grows wider and wider. Japan is ahead of America in paid maternal leave as is almost every country in the world. That’s scary.
I am also unnerved by rampant ignorance about the importance of education. It starts with early childhood education being underfunded, which not only hurts children’s ability to succeed in school and life, but adds a further childcare burden to middle and lower income families. This is really scary. The fact that most of our schools are underperforming and not teaching children the skills needed for the world of technology and a global economy is a fear that should haunt all of us every day of the year – not just on Halloween. The increasingly excessive cost of higher education leaving students with a lifetime of debt is a horror story in the making.
I view too many in our Congress as Frankensteins, whose views appear to have been stitched together by Professor Moriarity. Together they are creating a nightmare for our country. Can Sherlock Holmes or Captain America save us? I think each of us will need to become Superman and Superwoman to turn that caldron of poison into a good night’s sleep.
Lastly, allow me to share one more Halloween nightmare that makes my blood boil and this one might surprise you. I’m frightened that women are going to continue to place 100% of the blame on corporations for not moving them up the ranks. I believe it’s a 50-50 proposition. Some women need to stop behaving like damsels in distress and learn what men do to get promotions. Women can do a better job of negotiating, building webs of networks with colleagues and leaders, give up perfectionism and become powerful delegators to reach their field of dreams. Companies need to do their part to identify the high-potential women and support them with coaching and leadership training. We need all hands on deck to address the challenges we have today.
It is truly a witching hour for male and female leaders. Personally, I love to dress up in my coaching costume and use my tricks and offer treats to transform my fears into successes for both CEOs, women executives, and entrepreneurs. With the best leaders at the helm, I hope to be less fearful next Halloween. What’s your costume this year? How will you transform your fears?
—-Leslie Grossman, Vistage Chair, leadership coach and author of LINK OUT: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections (Wiley), www.lesliegrossmanleadership.com