Healthy Fear (Leadership Essentials)

small__4278434497Fear is a powerful motivator. Fear can cause us to do incredible things that we didn’t know were possible; both positively and negatively. Fear can also cause us to shrink back and paralyze us into inaction. Fear often is a negative in our lives and something we usually try to avoid.

There is, however, a healthy fear that we should have, especially as leaders and influencers. This healthy fear keeps us focused and helps us maintain proper priorities. This is a not an external fear. It is not a controlling fear. It is not something to overcome.

This fear is also not “normal”.

It is the fear of the status quo. The fear of remaining the same. The fear of ineffectiveness.

Most people fear change; fear the unknown. It has been said that change happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of the unknown.

Leaders need to reverse that. Effective influence is the ability to help others grow and improve and stretch beyond the way things currently are.

Of course, things can change and the change isn’t positive, so wisdom and good decision making are also needed. Yet, too many times we use prudence as an excuse to remain the same. We play it safe trying not to rock the boat and choose security over growth.

Growth always requires change.

This healthy fear takes us where we need to go. It helps us to overcome the fear of risk and push through the fear of failure.

Fear of failure keeps us from trying. Fear of ineffectiveness keeps us from not trying. Fear of failure is paralyzing and pushes us toward comfort and safety. Fear of sameness motivates to action and pushes us toward courage.

This healthy fear comes from a sense of purpose. It is a knowledge that without change there is no growth. It stems from a desire to make people and situations better.

Because this fear is healthy and it is motivated toward effectiveness it looks for what is best. The leader with this healthy fear is very intentional and mindful of the risks. That leader also knows the long-term risk of remaining the same is greater the short-term risk and change of pain.

Too many think that fear is weakness and that courage is the absence of fear. There’s this hollywood-ized idea that great leaders are fearless. The reality is everyone has fears. Great leaders choose their fears. They choose healthy fear.

Fear is powerful. It can destroy. But a healthy fear can build. A healthy fear motivates.

Healthy fear is an essential of leadership.

photo credit: jonycunha via photopin cc

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