What are you afraid of? Do you need to make a tough decision but fear the consequences? Should you provide feedback to one of your employees but fear the backlash? Do you want to start a new project but fear failure? Was Franklin D. Roosevelt correct when he said: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”?
Fear is such a powerful emotion. It can stop us in our tracks, keep us from taking action, and paralyze the most action oriented leader. It is also unavoidable.
In my work with clients I often sense fear and feel it personally every day. Recently I saw a client paralyzed by the fear that surfaced over a decision. In that same conversation I feared what might happen if I told my client he was heading down the wrong path. I also worried about what would happen if I said no to a client’s request.
Fear can save us but it also hurts us. If you are standing on a cliff and you fear falling over you will move to safety. If you fear being burned you will keep away from the fire. But if you fear having that difficult conversation is it healthy to be silent? If you fear failure will you ever experience real success?
Successful leaders understand that fear is more than a barrier to action. Fear is also a magnet that pulls us in a positive direction. Great leaders feel fear and still take action. They consider that fear often surfaces when you are about to do something that matters.
Next time you are afraid to have that difficult conversation consider that fear wants you to have it. When you fear that a project will fail consider that it wouldn’t be worth doing if failure wasn't an option. When you are tempted to avoid something because you fear a loss ask yourself what you could gain. Fear is a powerful and useful emotion - embrace it.
Question: When have you experienced fear as a magnet - pulling you in a positive direction?