5 Ways to Face Your Fear as a Leader with Bonus Quotes. #4 Might Surprise You!

how to face your fear in leadership

As a leader, you are sure to face fears on a weekly, if not daily basis. Learning to overcome them and to push through can be some of the toughest obstacle to moving forward in your leadership.

It is often a difficult, but necessary task to push through fear and make a decision or deal with an issue. Here are 5 surefire ways to help in getting past those fears.

1. Face it Head On

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Amelia Earhart

Sometimes the best way to overcome fear as a leader is to confront it face to face. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fear of heights. When I moved to Boston in the mid-90’s, I decided I wanted to overcome that fear, so I determined to take up rock climbing. Fortunately, someone I worked with was a proficient climber and invited me to go with him on several outings.

At first, I was very nervous and wasn’t so sure. As I progressed and learned to trust both my partner and the equipment, I became much more comfortable with heights. While you still won’t see me base jumping or doing anything crazy like high-lining over a canyon, I know that I can overcome certain fears by taking them head on.

Many times, our fears are unfounded and if we will face them directly, it is not as big of a deal as we make it in our mind. Things like confronting issues at work, problems with employees or clients, these can be worked out with less effort and fireworks than we create in our heads.

What issues do you need to confront head on today? (Share in the comments below.)

2. Wait for the right timing

The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!

George S. Patton

For other fears, we may need to wait for the timing to be appropriate. If we are about to respond to a situation based on fear or anger, then it is probably wise to wait:

  1. Gather yourself
  2. Consider how you will respond
  3. Get all the facts
  4. Respond in a timely manner

I know when I get fearful, I also tend to get frustrated and either my sarcasm or my frustration tends to show, so when possible I will defer the decision or response until I can gather myself, gather more facts about the situation, and respond appropriately.

What circumstances are you afraid of that you need to wait for the right timing? (Share in the comments below.)

3. Seek wise counsel

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.

Francis of Assisi

There are many times as a leader that we should seek wise counsel. When fears creep in is one of those times. A different perspective can help us see that the thing we fear may not be as big of a deal as we make it out to be.

There are also solutions to issues we face that are too close for us to solve but require the opinions and viewpoint of others we trust to help us see through the fear and come to the best solution.

I have many wise friends in my life that I turn to when I am overcome or seem stalled by fear. There is empathy, encouragement, and when necessary, a swift kick in the pants to get moving. (The best kind of counsel is both encouraging and challenging at the same time.)

For some issues, however, the fear is just too much and you may need to seek professional help. If there are fears in your life that keep you from moving forward, making decisions, or establishing solid relationships, then I would encourage you to seek help form a trained counselor. I’ve used a few in my lifetime. There is nothing shameful about it!

With what issues do you need to seek wise counsel? (Share in the comments below.)

4. Avoid it

I’m not about to go out and buy a snake for a pet. I mean, I may have faced a few fears but I’m not insane.

Kristin Davis

Umm…did I just say that? Yes, I certainly did! There are some issues that need to just be avoided. Another way to say that is that certain fears just don’t even need to be acknowledged.

The quote above sums it up nicely, and I’ll return to my original story about fear of heights. Even though it’s something I’ve worked on, I won’t ever get a job as a roofer or wind turbine repair technician. (Although I have worked on zip lines and high ropes courses.)

It’s also not something that I deal with on a daily basis, so I can avoid it when I don’t have to work with heights. Let’s just say I don’t go looking for trouble.

The same is true with leadership. Have you worked with others who seem to live in fear and anxiety or are one of those toxic teammates? Me, too. Or the ones who seem to create drama? You don’t need to go looking for trouble. Each day has enough of its own, don’t you think?

Is this something that you have to make a decision on right now? Is it a pressing matter or just something that seems urgent but is really not important?

What issues can you choose to avoid because they are not high on the priority list? (Share in the comments below.)

5. Get to the root of it

The deepest fear we have, ‘the fear beneath all fears,’ is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It’s this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life.

Tullian Tchividjian

I’ve been a pastor before and have counseled people on a number of issues. Often fear is either a driving or debilitating force in people’s lives. It can push them forward or stop them in their tracks. There are several questions that can help you get at the root of your fears:

– What issue(s) trigger this fear?

– When is the first time I can remember being afraid of ____________?

– When _____________ happens, what is my first response?

– When have I successfully responded to _______________?

– Can I visualize myself pushing past this fear and moving forward?

Once you’ve dived into the root of the fear, the next step is to seek to overcome it. Often, it is by trying the very thing you are afraid of, or pushing past the fear to respond to a circumstance.

Another way might be to set up a mock scenario of the particular situation. Let’s say that you have to give a presentation that you are very nervous about. Instead of just practicing on your own (always a good idea to be prepared), ask some friends or co-workers to let you practice on them before the actual date. Have them give you constructive criticism on ways to improve. You’ll probably find out that they will be very helpful, and it will make you more comfortable when the actual presentation arrives.

What issues do you need to get to the root of? How can you begin to overcome those? (Share in the comments below.)

2 comments

  • A college professor I once had and greatly admire, the late Dr. John Peslak, often said the things he most feared may very well be the things he most needed to experience to become a better person.

    I’ve taken that to heart ever since, and have found it to be true for myself.

    • Wise words. Often, those things we fear are WAY bigger in our minds than what they actually turn out to be. And, yes, they can definitely help us grow as individuals and leaders.

      Besides, after a stint in Antarctica, what’s there to be afraid of? 😉

      Thanks, Joe!

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