At RMA, we never get tired of learning about leadership, and taking more risk—a willingness to move out of a comfortable place and consciously stepping into the unknown—is part of what makes a leader emerge from the crowd. Are you taking risks these days? What is it that you are afraid of?
Here’s a five-minute refresher on current thinking on the subject of confronting the fears in our lives, with some quotations to consider.
1. Fear is a waste of time and money. Feeling fearful is a cycle of inefficient thoughts. It puts us in a reactive, passive mode. It creates a static noise that keeps us from hearing ourselves; it stifles our thinking and actions.
2. Fear is human. Remember that your goal is not to “eliminate” fear, for it is an essential component of being alive. Being utterly fearless is a goal best suited to a cartoon superhero. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” (Nelson Mandela)
3. Worry is fear’s favorite action verb. There is profound wisdom in the simple act of choosing to worry less and to be positive. Rich calls this “taking it on as a personal mission to strengthen your upbeat, positive, optimist muscle by exercising it every hour of the day.”
4. Letting fear rule is arguably the greatest barrier to people being truly fulfilled and happy. “The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, should have.” (Louise Boone)
5. Forgive yourself for feeling fearful. A good place to start in confronting a fear is to simply admit it without judgment. This is what Mike Robbins, on Huffington Post, calls nurturing “a sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves.”
6. Own your fear. It is yours and you created it. No one else can “make” us scared, and it is a choice to let fear stop you. “There are no victims, only volunteers.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
7. Actively seek to understand. We probably fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them, so learning about your fear is part of confronting it. There’s an important distinction here that just thinking about a fear, or talking about a fear, is not enough. “If you want to conquer fear, don’t just sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” (Dale Carnegie)
8. Feeling fear—which is precisely the emotion we naturally seek to avoid—is actually is great step in dissipating it. Understanding your fear means watching it, learning from it, coming directly in contact with it. To learn about your fear is a far better use of your time than trying to escape from it.
9. Expressing your fear, rather then repressing it, is a powerful choice to speak, write, emote, move . . . even yell! Letting go of a fear entirely may be impossible, but if you can, use its energy in a positive way. Moving through it is a conscious and deliberate choice, so that’s where “being brave” comes in.
10. You know how we tease about nonprofit professionals choosing our work because we set out to change the world? Maybe it’s no joke. “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic, and we’ll change the world.” (Jack Layton)
If this refresher has struck a chord for you, keep going. In his book, “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken,” Robbins considers confronting one’s fears to be merely the first step on a journey to living authentically. He writes wonderfully about expressing yourself confidently, dealing with conflict effectively, taking risk, keeping things in perspective, and seeking forgiveness and trust, all toward finding more freedom as well as peace in your work, your relationships, and your life.