Being a leader is sometimes frightening. The greater responsibility you have in an organization, the greater the impact your decisions will have. But, if you wait until you have all of the information needed to make the perfect decision, you really aren’t making a decision at all. You’re just stating a foregone conclusion. And that’s not leadership.
There will always be pieces of information or levels of impact that are unknown. With practice, you can learn to rely on a combination of experience, trust, and pure gut instinct to make the best decision available. Without practice, you’re subverting your ability to grow as a leader.
By taking on the challenge of doing things that are out of your comfort zone, you can accelerate your learning and growth as a leader. Here are some tips to help you work through your fears:
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” That quote, attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, reminds us to challenge ourselves more. Whatever it is that scares you — public speaking, having a hard talk with a friend, making an appointment to see a counselor, or taking the leap into entrepreneurship — write them all down. Then challenge yourself to tackle these things with greater and greater frequency. There is real power in taking action on the things that you once feared the most.
Think through the worst-case scenario. “Fear is your friend,” says Tim Ferriss in his TED talk. “Fear is an indicator. Sometimes it shows you what you shouldn’t do. More often than not it shows you exactly what you should do. And the best results, the most enjoyable times, often come from asking a simple question: What’s the worst that can happen?”
Fear makes us do the opposite of what’s best for us. As with stress and other “negative” emotions, a certain amount of fear is healthy, even beneficial. Fear’s insidiousness hides on the invisible line between what’s healthy and what isn’t. The challenge is in determining when to listen to fear, and when to ignore it. That line — and therefore the determination whether to obey our fears or face them down — comes into view when we ask what’s in our best long-term interest.
The more you listen to fear, the more power you give it. Fortunately, the converse is true — the more you face fear down, the more control you have. Once we understand that, we can systematically expose ourselves to the things that scare us, and in that way, propel ourselves forward.
Question: What are some fears you’ve overcome as a leader?
Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News!