Love and Fear in the Workplace: A Conversation with Dr. Maria Church

Love and Fear in Workplace

In the heart of Tacoma, Washington, at the Transforming Local Government 2018 Conference, Dr. Maria Church had a thought-provoking conversation. As the CEO of Government Leadership Solutions, Dr. Church has dedicated her expertise to exploring the complex interplay between fear and love within organizations. Her discussion highlighted the core essence of these emotions and their profound influence on the dynamics of the workplace environment.


1. A Harmony of Fear and Love

Dr. Church’s insights delve into the profound connection between fear and love. Contrary to the conventional notion of these emotions as polar opposites, she emphasizes that they cannot coexist simultaneously. While we can oscillate between the two emotions, experiencing genuine love necessitates the absence of fear, and vice versa. This insight prompts us to pay attention to the emotional currents that shape our interactions within the work environment.



2. The Destructive Force of Fear

Dr. Church points out that fear is everywhere at work, and that’s not good. Fear can make small problems turn into big worries. Imagine this: your coworkers come back from a conference all excited to share their cool ideas, but then someone gets all worried and says the meeting wasn’t allowed. This fear stops creativity and teamwork, making everyone less excited.


3. Fear’s Secretive Presence

Secretive Fear

Dr. Church also wants us to know that fear sneaks into our everyday actions without us realizing it. For example, some people worry that others might think they’re not working hard, so they come to the office early and leave late, even if it doesn’t help them do better work. Instead of doing their best work, they’re more worried about looking good to others, and that’s because of fear.


4. Fear’s Disagreement with Innovation

When fear takes over, it’s like a cloud covering up the excitement of coming up with new ideas at work. People start worrying so much about things that might not even happen, that they forget to come up with cool and new ideas. It’s like they can’t see the good stuff because they’re too busy thinking about the bad stuff. Dr. Church explains that fear can cast a shadow over innovation and customer service, diverting energy and focus toward guarding against imagined daggers rather than nurturing organizational growth.


5. Head and Heart

This one of the coolest ideas of Dr. Church that how smart thinking and feelings work together to make amazing ideas. Some people think that good ideas only come from being super smart, but the real magic happens when our smart thoughts meet our feelings and emotions. When our brains and our hearts work together, that’s when we come up with really awesome and game-changing ideas that can help our workplaces do better things.

She introduces a captivating metaphor for the journey of innovation. She coins it as the “eighteen-inch journey,” referring to the distance between the head and the heart. What she’s saying is that we should use the power of the combination of these two strong things. Because by recognizing the harmony between analytical skill and emotional intelligence, organizations can channel their energies into meaningful pursuits that fuel genuine growth and progress.

She further interprets it by drawing a parallel to historical social movements, such as the civil rights activism led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Church explains that when love and intelligence intertwine, powerful forces emerge. This fusion of heart and intellect often gives rise to ideas whose time has come, propelling innovation and transformation forward.


6. Closing the Gap of Fear through Awareness

Dr. Church not only identifies fear as a problem and its harmful impacts on us that it can stop us from sharing cool ideas and make it hard for new and creative things to happen at work. But she also gives us a way to beat this fear, and it starts with understanding it. Dr. Church explains it like turning on a light in a dark room. When we know where the fear is hiding, it’s easier to fight against it. And when we’re faced with fear, we have a choice: let it control us or choose to be more loving and positive.


7. A Shift in Focus: Love and Trust Breeding Innovation

Recognizing the detriment of fear to an organization, she also highlights the important things that support innovation. Dr. Church refers to Japanese researchers who identified a critical factor, “ba,” present in innovative organizations. Ba, encompassing love, care, trust, and compassion, creates an environment where innovation thrives. Trust emerges as a cornerstone, allowing for experimentation and learning through failure. A culture of trust grants permission for vulnerability and creative expression, laying the foundation for innovation.


8. The Embrace of Wholeness: Mind, Body, and Spirit

She ends the discussion with a great emphasis on understanding that being your true self is super valuable. Nowadays, when we’re all about being connected, it doesn’t make sense to keep different parts of our lives separate. Dr. Church suggests that it’s better if our thoughts, bodies, and feelings all come together. This way, we can be more connected to our work, have more meaningful experiences, and be really dedicated to what our company or we ourselves are trying to achieve.



In conclusion, it becomes apparent that Dr. Maria Church’s insights are not mere concepts; they are guiding principles that can revolutionize organizational cultures. The journey from fear to love involves a series of choices: choices to be aware, choices to prioritize trust and compassion, and choices to align with our deeper purpose. Dr. Church’s wisdom propels us to recognize that the transformational potential of love and fear is not limited to the realm of theory; it’s a tangible pathway to creating workplaces that thrive on innovation, collaboration, and a shared commitment to making a positive impact on the world. The main message of this conversation is for the leaders to guide their teams through the journey of the “eighteen inches,” a journey toward a future where fear yields to love, and innovation takes root.