Beyond Confidence, Developing “Fiero”

“Fiero:” the pleasure that comes from meeting a challenge which has stretched you.”

That is the definition of an Italian word that describes a particular positive emotion cited in the book Destructive Emotions, by Daniel Goleman.

Goleman is an inspirational frontrunner of personal and leadership development. The book presents ever deeper cases that through specific practices we can master compassion as a state of optimum productivity. The material is strongly supported by scientific studies of the brain, and how particular practices impact its wiring.

“Fiero,” seems to be the perfect word for the feeling that results from diligent self-work using one or many of a variety of mind/body disciplines.

The starting point in working toward the warm and gratifying feeling called Fiero is most often:

1)  A deliberate cognitive shift in attitude.


2)  It requires mindfully experiencing any specific life situation , no matter how large or small, as a worthy challenge to one’s Self.

3)  It requires a decision to grow. Accompanying the decision to grow must be honest self-inquiry as to what “growth” would be in relation to one’s values and goals.

I see this attitude as a quality of involvement and caring that most adventurers or exceptionally wise human beings express naturally. A mental orientation that consistently says ‘”Yes” and ‘how can I learn and grow from this situation?” No doubt, it also requires another quality, (perhaps an aspect of awareness) I’ve heard termed ” Eternal Vigilance.’ Once you’ve identified a growth opportunity, in order to overcome habit and inertia, you really have to stay plugged-in to your intention “stay on top of ” choosing new action.

So, we’re talking about consistently identifying life’s full range of annoyances and problems as challenges; grapes of opportunity (as it were) from which we can squeeze and drink the wines of Fiero.

So where is this elusive vineyard?

Look to your most recent annoyance. Take note of what you may be avoiding. Consider the interpersonal relationship that tries your patience or frustrates you. Count that certain reaction you consistently get from others that is personally disappointing. What’s that goal down there gnawing at your ankle that you’ve just never reached? That skill you’ve never mastered??

It really shouldn’t take you a lot of time to “work on” any of these areas. The quality of awareness or mindfulness that is required only occurs in the present moment. (see The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle). Although an inherent aspect of the approach is “surrender,” and that can be tricky. Surrender means you have to fully admit and fully accept what’s going on – including your part of it. Not always easy, not always fun.

“So, Steve!” you say, “This all sounds very altruistic and good, but you train and coach communication in the workplace. What’s the fit? Where’s the bottom line?”

The bottom line could be improved performance in the workplace to the tune of up to 75%. It could also be more dynamic leadership, an improved attitude of team, higher productivity, happier associates, and deep motivation resulting from a true use of workplace challenges to meet personal values objectives. That work/life coordination strengthens workplace involvement and commitment.

Let’s walk through an example from our vineyard list – “Consider that interpersonal relationship that tries your patience or frustrates you.” Imagine you have an associate whom you consider to be overbearing, overemotional, and draining in spite of his talents and expertise. However you have to work with him daily on important projects. The results of the projects affect your performance review and bonus.

1)  Decide to change your attitude about your associate. Surrender by admitting that it is unproductive and that you are always responsible for your thoughts and behavior – no matter what.

2)  Pay attention to your body when you think of this person and when you’re in his presence. Where do you feel tension? What is your facial expression? What happens to your breathing? What would happen if you decided to shift these responses? Soften your eyes? Smile? Relax your shoulders? Breathe easily and deeply?

3) Decide to make positive changes. Concentrate on what you can like about this individual – even if it’s simple – say, the color of his eyes. Change the words you think and speak about him. When you need to, speak directly to him about any observations or issues you may have. Make requests of him versus accusing him or complaining.

Then use your discoveries and new actions as “rituals” or practices to keep you open and attuned in future interactions.

For any challenge from the vineyard find a way to bring your intention into your exercise program. Move strongly with the thought of the goal. Use an affirmation that fits rhythmically. Borrow additional tools from the methods of Applied Kineseology, Visualization, Meditation, and Rational Thinking.

In a reasonably short time, you should have achieved your goal and be able to bask in the warm glow of ‘Fiero.’

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