Throughout our lives we are told to be fearless, but isn’t it more attainable to fear less? When I think of fearless, I think of the complete absence of fear. That just doesn’t exist. Regardless of how strong we may think we are, we will never be absent of it.
When I think of fear less, I think of minimizing it in our lives. The same eight letters form each of these concepts, but one has a gap. A gap that pauses just enough to acknowledge fear, but shows the healthier quantity of it in our lives, less.
Where is Fear Found?
Webster’s Dictionary defines fear as, “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” It is found in deadlines, diagnoses, finances, insecurities, responsibility, potential outcomes, uncertainty, you name it.
In my world, fear is usually found in my head. Maybe you can relate? My mind can run in a million different directions attempting to predict every potential outcome in my life. I often wonder if I could go back and track all the things that I feared would go wrong in my life, just how many of those things ever did happen. I would lean towards 99% of those things never came to fruition. Just waisted energy.
So how do we fear less? Let’s dive into six ways to fear less.
Trust in People
As leaders, we can reduce a substantial amount of fear in our lives by simply trusting those we lead. The higher you climb in leadership, the more dependent you become on those you lead. Trust helps you relinquish control.
Fear is generated when outcomes are attempted to be controlled. There is no way that any of us can control every single outcome in our organizations, it is just not possible. The tighter we grasp for control, the slicker our grip gets. Trust in people.
One Step at a Time
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that, “faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Fear is a great paralyzer, it prevents us from moving forward. When I have forward momentum, I tend to fear less. Most of the time I am fearful is when I am standing still. I tend to stand in paralysis of the giant in front of me and just stare. The giant may be a task, a difficult conversation, or just a big decision.
When fear starts to creep in, just keep walking. Simply put one front in front of the other. Fear cannot keep pace with movement. It can dominate you where you stand.
Lean on Others
People are better together, it is as simple as that. Fear tends to take hold when we become independent and distance ourselves from others. Think about it from this perspective, if you are walking through a dark alley in the middle of the night by yourself. Do you have more or less fear than if you were with others?
For me, I always fear less when I am around family, friends, and teammates. There is just something comforting about the presence of those that mean the most to you. The greater the fear, the more we want to run. In order to fear less, we need to seek the presence of others and lean on them.
Look for the Light
Fear grows in the dark. When things are dark, always look for the light. You will fear less.
Sometimes in our journeys when things become uncertain or the going gets tough, we want to be immediately rescued from the situation. We want a helicopter to swoop in, pick us up, and take us to safety. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way.
Sometimes we need to work through the circumstances and towards the light at the end of the tunnel. That process builds resiliency. We may have to shift some of the rubble around, but the light is there. Once we find it, trepidation resides. The end is near. Always look for the light in the darkness.
Fear comes at us daily. Just watch the national news or scroll through your social media feed for any period of time during an election season. We hear more about what you should fear about a political candidate’s opponent than what they stand for themselves.
One thing we certainly have less of in this world is hope. Hope can conquer any fear, no matter the size. Napoleon Bonaparte said that, “leaders are dealers in hope.” So, get to dealing.
As I stated earlier, most of the things we fear to happen NEVER come to fruition. Remember that story about the Boogie Monster that lived under your bed? Never found him, right? Exactly.
As we grow in leadership, so does our wisdom. Wisdom is generated from our experiences. When we were younger, we would be fearful of the Boogie Monster. Then we realized that we could lean on others and cry out to mom and dad when fear crept in. We placed trust in their word that he wasn’t under our bed. If not, a night light could help keep it at bay.
Ultimately, our experiences should provide us hope that everything is going to be okay. There is no Boogie Monster. How much time have you wasted fearing things that never came into existence? Probably just like me, way too much time.
Maya Angelou once said, “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.” Hope and fear are as contagious to those you lead as a common cold. Only one can stay, which one is it? Choose to fear less.