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The only thing we have to fear is … fear itself – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’m scared.  There, I said it.  And as a leader, it feels like I shouldn’t necessarily be admitting this. Which is why I appreciated this article titled The Myth Of Fearless Leadership: How To Lead When You’re Afraid that I stumbled across this weekend.

All to often we get this image of leaders where they have all of the right answers, where everything goes their way, where everyone applauds all of their decisions all of the time, where they always seem to know what to do next. But as soon as we arrive at defined scope and a release date, challenges arise.  As soon the team begins firing on all cylinders and performing well together, dynamics change.  As soon the roadmap is published with everyone’s input, priorities shift.

“In fact, every time I begin to think I have a clue about what I’m doing, something comes along that frankly, scares the living daylights out me.”

So when I read this quote from the author, it reminded me that while yes, having our ducks in a row is the goal many of us strive for, it simply isn’t reflective of reality 100% of the time. Many of the points the author makes I’ve heard before … and so have you likely, but it is always nice to have a reminder and encouragement.

  • Fear Doesn’t Have to Be Your Enemy – [PH thoughts] getting outside of our comfort zones occasionally keeps us on our toes.  It’s what you do with that fear that matters … don’t let it paralyze you. As the quote from FDR points out, many times it is the fear of the unknown, more-so than the unknown itself, that is our undoing.
  • Know that you’re not alone – [PH thoughts] this one is important, because it is as old as time. Nothing seizes us that is uncommon to man … meaning, you aren’t the first to feel fear … nor will you be the last. Sometimes you need the encouragement … sometimes you will be the encourager.
  • Acknowledge that failing doesn’t make you a failure – [PH thoughts] many examples to choose from, but think Steve Jobs and Abraham Lincoln as starters. Both had failures that later propelled them to success.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – [PH thoughts] this one goes back to my post about being the smartest person in the room … don’t fall for it.
  • Understand what’s driving your fear and turn it into an advantage – [PH thoughts] fear and stress are the body’s natural defense mechanism.  Harnessing fear and stress can be a way of rising to the challenge!
  • Be aware that your reaction to threats will be noticed and modeled by your team – [PH thoughts] of all of the points in the article, this one is the hardest because it isn’t about you.  If you feel defeated, your team will feel defeated.  If you see opportunity, your team will see opportunity.  Which leader would you prefer to be following when difficulties arise?
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