Fear: A Leader's User Guide

Standing strong in your leadership can be scary.

Wielding power responsibly -- with all the messiness that this entails -- can shake the most confident amongst us. 

I have the enormous privilege of working with some pretty fierce leaders in my coaching & consulting practice. Let me tell you a common topic of conversation: facing fear.

When we fear the responsibilities of leadership, our inner dialogue can go something like this:

Me? I'm responsible for all this? I have to raise this budget? I have to fire this person? I have to figure out a way through this intractable morass? I have to recreate this astounding success next year? Little old me? 

Yes, you.  But here's what I've learned from talking to many, many leaders -- and what I want you to remember:

You are not alone.
You are not the only leader who is daunted by the awesome responsibility you hold for other people's livelihoods, by the ambitious vision you've laid out for your organization, or by the budget you have to raise.  Most leaders are humbled by these undertakings.  And yet.  They get up and do the work, make change, and build the leadership of others along the way.  And so will you.

You can welcome the fear.
Fear is not something we need to push away, to resist with force (that never works that well anyway).  Believe it or not, we can welcome our fear.  That's right, I said WELCOME it.  Hang in with me here.  

Welcoming the fear lets us soften to it rather than freeze up.  It lets us check out the fear, to dialogue with it:

Hey fear, what are you really about? Are you telling me something useful? Or are you a message from the past, not so helpful now? Not so helpful?  Great -- I'll keep on my merry way then, and do what I need to do. Just part of my process? Fantastic, thanks for showing up.  I'll be moving forward, and you'll be going soon.  

I've been practicing this welcoming approach with big decisions, big events and difficult conversations -- things that have historically made me lose some sleep.  Here's what I've found: the fear doesn't go away, but when I welcome it I can live with it and learn from it.  
Try it.  You may learn that you have nothing to fear at all.