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April 17, 2020 Advice

Keys to taming CEO anxiety

Are fears, anxieties, feelings of panic affecting your ability to fully lead your company through this business crisis? If so, trying to deal with anxiety alone can only lead to more stress and depression. It may be time to seek out solutions to help you take back control, so that your emotional intelligence can continue to guide you forward. Keep in mind anxiety is very contagious, but so is calmness and a smile. 

Bob Martel is a board-certified hypnotist and stress management consultant at Positive Results Hypnosis in Holden. You can reach him via email at

Leadership anxiety is more common than you might want to believe. CEOs, small business owners, and company presidents each share a common quandary in they face greater depression if it’s left unaddressed, and their health, their business, and their employees suffer. The anxiety-prone CEO still needs to manage the company through this crisis yet continue to lead with a vision peeking at the uncertain future. In fact, you may be (or know) a CEO becoming paralyzed and less focused as this crisis continues, which impacts everyone in the company. Managing CEO anxiety thus becomes essential, as well as is the CEO’s job of watching for signs of excessive fear and anxiety in direct reports.

Yet, all is not lost when a level head is maintained. Anxiety drives innovation and when tamed, enables clarity through deliberate relaxation, which can uncover opportunities and allow creativity to step forward from within, and across the organization. Relaxing on purpose is the best medicine, which starts with calm, deep breathing.

In my work coaching business people, many report a fear of being out of control, fear of failure (and success), or the common and unfounded executive fear of being found out for not having the leadership skills to succeed. Learning to utilize the power of your whole mind overcomes these issues. Fear is a gift.

In this time of crisis, people are looking for leadership. The person at the helm of the enterprise, no matter the size, is the one the entire team counts on, as well as being the core of the team’s strength. It’s a big responsibility keeping people motivated, inspired, calm, feeling safe in this uncertainty, and engaged in the business of the company as best as possible. Keep an open, uncritical mind as you consider these tips:

  • Stay focused on business goals, while assessing your current situation, and keeping in mind your work-life balance, which is difficult right now. Shore up your disaster plan and protect your data and critical information. Decide you want to come out of this whole, ready to restart. Use visualization, mental rehearsal and guided imagery to program your mind as your blueprint for success.
  • Self-hypnosis is evidence-based, first-line intervention for helping to control anxiety. Easy to learn techniques will help you restore control, confidence and courage. Practice what I call trance in motion as you move through time staying focused on what you want, not focusing on what you don’t want. Consider learning Tai Chi for health, balance, focus. Practice walking meditation.
  • Anxiety often begins when you dwell too much on your lack of confidence. So, instead of letting the things you cannot control consume you, identify your leadership strengths. Turn anxiety into a friend, name it, neutralize its negative power. Remember, high anxiety leaders can use it as an advantage and apply it to high levels of accomplishment.
  • Anxiety over this current situation may invoke past feelings of CEO loneliness or feeling out of control. In your stillness, listen to the parts of you afraid and worried about the uncertainty. Reassure those parts with a nice, calm, understanding breath. 
  • Focus on mind and heart working together within. The Japanese call it kokoru. Connect with yourself from a place of mind and heart, mindfully compassionate and strong at the same time. 

Check in with yourself and eliminate any self-doubt. You are in this position because you are supposed to be, so continue to bring your best game to life, and conquer the fears. Stay courageous, brave and strong, and reflect positivity and hope to the troops. Courage in the face of adversity is magical. “Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend,” said Winston Churchill.

The other side of this crisis could have your business on a new course, emerging out of these proverbial ashes like a phoenix. Managing your own anxiety is the first step towards being able to lead your company through this. Everyone is rooting for you, and counting on your success at the top!

Bob Martel is a consultant and board-certified hypnotist at Positive Results Hypnosis in Holden, specializing in hypnotherapy for stress and anxiety, performance coaching and self-mastery. Reach him at for consultation or regarding this article.

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