Francine Campone: Evolve Fear

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Fear is a four-letter word.  Here are some others:  name, look, data, open.  How do these fit together?

Fear is a name for an experience, an instinctive physical and mental reaction to the conditions of the moment.  The experience may be a quickening of heartbeat or clenched gut, perspiration gathering on the brow, or tightened muscles.  The experience is different for each of us, depending on the circumstances.  The instinct is part of our DNA and is certainly useful when we encounter a genuine threat to our lives and well-being.  However, like all instincts, the reaction may arise when habits of perceiving mislead us.

 Years ago, my family went on a mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Riding downward through miles of colorful rock formations, the view was both spectacular and—-terrifying.  The road was narrow, steep and winding around in deep curves.  My mule would walk to the edge of a bend in the road, lean over and sniff for a path.  Finding no road, he’d turn and follow the rest of the pack.  At least, that’s the story my fear was telling me as I clenched the harness and prayed for the end of the ordeal. The ride to the bottom takes several hours and at some point, it became clear to me that the only way out was through.  That’s when my training in Zen came forward.  I named the experience- fear.  Once I could see fear as a word, it became something to look at and evaluate rather than something that possessed me.  Looking at “fear” offered useful data about where I was focusing my attention.   Seeing “fear” in this way, opened the experience of the moment and allowed me to see the whole of it, not just the feeling.   My breathing and heartbeat returned to normal.  My eyes lifted to the wonder of passing along the ages of the earth, layer by layer, as we descended to the canyon floor.  Other thoughts floated through my mind- “I’ll never be passing this way again- make the most of it!” 

In the current circumstances of an on-going pandemic, social and economic upheaval, it’s natural to experience fear. Circumstances justifiably warrant concern about health, jobs, relationships.  At the same time, it’s important to pay attention to how we name our experiences as we work through plans, create alternatives, modify expectations and manage the business of day to day living.  Throughout history, humankind has encountered severe challenges. We are a creative and resilient species.  Seeing and naming the emotions that are infiltrating our thoughts and reactions puts us in control of those thoughts and reactions. Examining thoughts and reactions critically helps us open to the whole of life in all of its possibilities.  Each of us has this one precious life to live in the ebb and flow of ever-changing circumstances.  

Articles by: Francine Campone

Francine Campone, Ed.D., MCC, Diploma Coaching Supervision

Francine Campone, Ed.D, MCC, coaches mature professionals making mid-life and mid-career transitions, including leaders in the corporate, education and nonprofit sectors. She served as Director of Fielding University’s Evidence-Based Coaching certificate program for twelve years and is a founding faculty member of the coaching program at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is a PCC and MCC assessor for the ICF and an approved ICF Mentor for those certifications. Francine holds a Diploma in Coaching Supervision and offers supervision for coaches seeking to deepen their learning and skills. Francine’s approach to coach mentoring and development is based on her orientation to reflective adult learning. She partners with coaches to learn from experiences and fosters their sense of self-development.

Dr. Campone co-chaired the review process and co-edited the Proceedings of the ICF Research Symposium in 2004, 2005 and 2006. She hosted the ICF Research Special Interest Group for four years and was chair of the ICF Research Committee. Her recent publications include a case study on the coaching/psychotherapy boundary; the impact of life events on coaches and their coaching; and book chapters on adult learning theories in coaching, reflective learning for coaches, coaching in the adult workplace and trends in coaching related research. She co-edited Innovations in Leadership Coaching Research and Practice and is currently the Research Lead for the Americas Coaching Supervision Network.
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