Replacing Fear With Fortitude

The matter of fear

One of the reasons a weekend respite from one's executive leadership responsibilities – or a longer holiday break away from the office – can be so productive for one's state of mind is because it allows us the time to reflect on our work and absorb important lessons learned by others.

There is no shortage of illuminating quotes, allegories and simple epiphanies circulating on the Internet, in social media and in a multitude of books and short stories that provide ample education for those of us willing to learn and absorb to improve ourselves as leaders and people.

Over time, one will recognise that many of these lessons have been shared through centuries of human experience and observation. Whether they come from Plato, Churchill, Lincoln or others whose own leadership journeys have transcended their own time on Earth, there is much to learn and model as we try to lead and inspire others.

Yet there is one particular topic that many of history's teachers seem to have observed as a critical litmus test upon which they felt compelled to opine. That topic, and one that merits serious contemplation by today's global executive leaders, is the matter of fear.

Understand the role that fear plays

Sure, we're all familiar with the words attributed to United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

But there is a striking focus on the part of some of the most revered leaders from a great many walks of professional life on the topic of fear that suggests – particularly in the COVID-19 dominated environment in which we all operate today – that we would all be better served to understand the role that fear plays in our daily life, our identity and our interaction with others.

The truth, in the opinion of many of the world's most historically significant leaders, is that fear is holding us back from achieving all that we are capable of realising, in our workplaces, our homes and our relationships.

It is also likely holding back our employees and our organisations, as an extension of the fear-based decision making of those with authority. Just consider these interesting observations about fear:

  • Fear means, Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Rise
  • Fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real
  • The fears we don't face become our limits
  • And, this, a quote from American author Jack Canfield: "Everything you want is on the other side of fear."

Understand fear better

As one considers the existence of fear as part of everyday humanity, and the need to overcome it to achieve maximum human and organisational performance, it is striking that so many leaders who have come before us have focused so consistently on fear as an obstacle to success.

Yet as we consider the drivers and consequences of fear, we must also realise its duplicitous nature. Many of the most admired global business leaders have admitted that, particularly in their formative years and even more consistently for those who grew up from hardscrabble childhoods, fear was both a constant companion and catalyst to the very actions and habits they created to achieve greatness.

Maybe this is why fear itself is so big a challenge for global executive leaders to figure out. On the one hand, fear motivates action. On the other, it also denies us from the future we could achieve.

For these reasons, consider this a call for you to consider the influence of fear on how you behave, how you lead, what you say and how you interact with others. You may just find that fears are holding you back, and if not, all the more time for you to help others acknowledge and address their own fears.

After all, the more fears are holding back others, the bigger the impediments to their success and fulfilment, and in part, our own.

So, examine your own life to understand fear better. Once you do, you may find your mastery of fear and the development of individual fortitude can help you get to where you're going, faster and perhaps more confidently than ever before.


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