Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear. – Dale Carnegie
I read a story not long ago that Louis Pasteur is reported to have had such an irrational fear of dirt and infection he refused to shake hands. President and Mrs. Benjamin Harrison were so intimidated by the newfangled electricity installed in the White House they didn’t dare touch the switches. If there were no servants around to turn off the lights when the Harrisons went to bed, they slept with them on.
What fear or phobia do you struggle with? I came across a list of the ten most common phobias and as it turns out mine is at the top of the list. Ask my family and they will tell you that my arachnophobia- the fear of spiders, can be rather entertaining at times.
But what’s not amusing or entertaining is when as leaders we allow fear to hold us back and keep us from reaching our full potential. How you address those fears can be defining moments that will either stall you where you are or move you forward. Turning your fear into fuel is the key to your success. Here are four ways you can do it.
Don’t allow fear to define you
A leader who is fearful will never succeed. Be it a fear of failure, other people’s opinion, or fear of the unknown- fear is the chief enemy of your future. If you allow fear to define you then fear will always control you. Every leader struggles with doubts and fears. It’s normal. But struggling with it is not the same as embracing it. Turn your fear into fuel by never surrendering your identity as a leader to fear.
Don’t allow fear to contain you
Fear has a way of boxing you in with wrong beliefs, wrong assumptions, and wrong views of your true worth and ability. Fear not only restricts your growth and development as a leader, but it restricts all the possibilities of your future. Fear is a trap that is hard to escape. You turn your fear into fuel when you hold yourself to a higher view of yourself. You are not the sum of your fears and doubts – you are the product of your Creator and your future has meaning and purpose.
Don’t allow fear to direct you
People who are driven by fear are not in control of their destiny. They are backseat drivers on a road to nowhere. Fear is a dead-end street that and will always disappoint. The road to success for you as a leader becomes a reality when you rise above your fears, shake off doubts, tune out the critics, and dare to take charge of your destiny. The fuel that drives your success is a passion for knowing who you are and that you have a compelling vision and plan to get there.
Don’t allow fear to confuse you
As a leader it’s important to understand that reservations and doubts at times are a normal part of the growing process. But don’t make the mistake of believing that your gut instincts are fear-driven. As you grow and mature as leader you will develop deeper levels of discernment regarding such things. But don’t confuse discernment and reasonable reservations with fear. So what’s the difference? Fears pander to worse-case scenarios and outcomes. Discernment relies on formulated wisdom- which at times may nix a decision about the future, and at times give the green light, but is always based on best-case scenarios. Turn your fear into fuel by trusting your instincts, trusting your team, and by moving forward with confidence.
Be assured that as you deal with your fears as a leader you are not alone. Fear is no respecter of persons and you will contend with it on your leadership journey. But with every victory over fear you become that much stronger, wiser, and empowered for the future. Face your fears with confidence that there is no fear that can defeat you.
© 2015 Doug Dickerson