Turning anxiety into action

Antony Mayfield writes about the psychological benefits of running.

It is hard to run. To get yourself out the door is hard. To run the first mile in cold in rain, in the dark is hard. To keep going after mile four and take the road that heads away from home instead of closer to it – that’s hard… The trick is to have a kind of indecision-busting heuristic. An automated response that kicks in whenever you notice that you are undecided, dithering about whether to run or not. That response is: “If in doubt – run”.

He links this to wider thoughts about overcoming inertia and Marc Stevenson’s ideas about pragmatic optimism.

This made sense to me. Last year I really had to confront my tendency to overthink things and end up mired in anxiety. My own mantra was about turning anxiety into action. I had many experiences of dragging myself to the gym, much like Antony’s running response. I’ve added yoga to my routine as well and that has had a tremendous impact too, getting me out of my head and into my body.

It’s a theme that’s going into the Action Storming book. That process emphasises treating problems not as intellectual ones to be worked out in our heads, but as physical ones to be practiced using our bodies. For instance, I often find coaching clients start off talking in quite abstract terms about strategic differences or failures of management. If we can narrow this down to a specific, concrete example of a conversation with, say, one particularly vexing colleague, then we can start to try out lots of variations of how to converse with that individual.

Because there’s the element of performance, we play a lot with the physical ways we engage with someone – there’s a lot more to it than finding a clever script. Conversation is a dance, it’s about much more than just the words we use. By moving this apparently analytic problem to something embodied, we can engage a lot of creativity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *