Overcoming the Fear of Leadership

Welcome to our third and final piece in the series on Overcoming the Fear of Leadership.

Be sure to also take a look at “Are You a Leader?” and “Leading With Vision” to get the full story.

If you want one thing that you can do today, that will help you grow, start here.

My example of a recent experience may or may not resonate with you. Make sure that you adapt each of the key elements to something you are experiencing in your own life.

  1. Choose a personal growth area that you are feeling anxious about.
    For me a recent example was the panic I was feeling at the Scaling New Heights conference. I had just taught a couple of breakout sessions that went really well. I was getting a lot of accolades, some awards, and there were more speaking opportunities being presented. People were looking up to me, and I was feeling the pedastal growing underneath me. (I’m scared of heights!) It was overwhelming, and I was starting to spin out. A lot of a good thing can drown us in our own emotions. It’s important to be honest with ourselves about our needs and desires at those times. I wanted to be able to enjoy the success and continue helping others, but I was reaching my current limit.
  2. Challenge yourself to grow.
    I realized that I needed to find a way to receive this influx of positive energy and connect with all of these people. My emotional container wasn’t big enough. I didn’t want it to go to my head. I also didn’t want it to send me into an introverted shell in the middle of the conference. I needed to honor what I was feeling while finding a way to grow as a person. I needed to do it in a way that was both authentic and vulnerable. This meant accepting myself so that the people around me could really see me. I had to do it fast.
  3. Ask for help… from someone that challenges you.
    We don’t need to do this alone. In fact, when we’re talking about leadership, it’s better when we don’t isolate ourselves. Leadership is about connection, and it goes both ways. I realized that the best way to confront my fear of being looked up to was to talk to someone I look up to. To talk about what I was experiencing. I went and cried on the shoulder of Mike Michalowicz, acclaimed speaker and author of numerous fantastic business books. It turns out that Mike is also a great listener, and he could totally relate to what I was experiencing. It wasn’t even that I needed any particular piece of advice or wisdom that only he could give; I needed a bit of validation and empathy from someone who has shared my experience. The very act of being able to break down emotionally with someone that inspires me, helped me to be more available to connect with people who were looking up to me. Publicly breaking down was exactly what I needed to get my ego out of the way. Prior to that I could think of nothing more humiliating. I broke through an internal block to growth by voluntarily diving into the scenario that scared me most.
  4. Perpetuate and normalize.
    Over the next several days & weeks, make a point to revisit this growth area in your personal contemplation and in conversation with friends and colleagues. This process with set your reticular activating system (RAS) to recognize the things around you that are related to this growth area. By doing this, we train our brains to create new patters and behaviors. This helps us continue to grow and understand ourselves. You may also be surprised as you talk about your experience with others how many people share your experience. They can benefit for hearing about your process. By being open and vulnerable, we inspire others to do the same. Once again we lead with positive interactions and authenticity. I did this by talking about this experience with anyone who would listen. I told friends, family, colleagues, and my coach. I even talked about it in a meeting of the Southern Oregon Bookkeepers Association. When a colleague asked me what my biggest take away was from Scaling New Heights, I shared my experience. In each case, the listener said that they felt inspired to allow themselves to be more vulnerable, and I felt more solid in the changes I had made in myself. Now I have told you, and I hope that this process has helped you, too. What’s bigger than sobbing on one of my heroes? Posting about it on the internet for everyone to see, that’s what!

We are always learning and growing. By recognizing where each of us is in our process and not pretending to be perfect, we can help each other learn and grow much more effectively. Thanks for partnering with me on this journey.

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