I’ll admit it. I’m a worrier. And at The Richards Group, I am not alone. We have some of the best worriers on the planet. I’m not talking about the neurotic, destructive kind of worrying. I’m talking about the productive power of positive worrying.
I don’t know how I became a worrier. I think mine all started because I was horrified to be late my first day of kindergarten (thanks, Mom). I don’t know how my colleagues started down the worrying path. All I know is that we have a wonderful ability to hire productive worriers. And we’re not all brand managers. All disciplines share equally in our collective worry gene.
My definition of positive worrying has to do with predicting, being prepared for, and influencing the future. Think about it. Why do most people worry? They are afraid of some bad outcome that might happen in the future. Truth is, worry is 100 percent wasted effort, unless you can influence that future event.
For example, I could worry that our creative presentation next week won’t go well with our new client. By itself, that would be unproductive worry. However, that can be turned into productive worry once I take action to make sure the presentation goes well by pre-selling the client, by ensuring that the work is right on the brief (after making sure the client understands and approves the brief) and is consistent with the client’s objectives.
I could worry all day that our new-business RFP response won’t get to the prospective client on time – or I could hand-deliver it, or I could make sure it goes a day early, just in case it gets lost in transit.
And apparently, worrying is becoming more popular. In his new book The Power of Negative Thinking, famous college basketball coach Bob Knight lists “Always worry” as the third of his Ten Commandments of Leadership. He writes that if you run out of things to worry about, you should worry about being overconfident. While I don’t condone many of Coach Knight’s well-documented behaviors, I can wholeheartedly endorse his belief in the positive impact of productive worrying.