AGL 127: Leading with Confidence and Overcoming Fear

Being a leader demands bravery. In this episode I talk about overcoming FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) and leading with confidence. I list and explain these 4 steps for dealing with fear:

  1. Play it out. What’s the worse that can happen?
  2. What’s the likelihood of that thing happening?
  3. How can you reduce the likelihood of that happening?
  4. If the worse happens, how can you recover?tesla model x


We need to understand that everyone deals with fear.  The most successful people just “do it anyway.”

In order to be a leader, you must be brave.  For some people it comes naturally, but for others of us,

we have to work at it.  If you want to work at it with other like minded folks, please sign up at  I’ve focused on leadership for many years now, and my wife even says I focus on it too much sometimes. I see countless people that have so much potential for leadership, but havenever stepped out and gave it shot due to fear. Now Fear isn’t always bad.  There are good fears too.  For example, I’m afraid of snakes.  God gave me that fear so that I don’t get bit by one of those suckers and die.  That’s a healthy fear, at least I tell myself it is.  Okay, another example.  I want my kids to have certain fears.  I want my son to be afraid of crossing the street without holding an adult’s hand.  Having that fear may save his life.  But I don’t want him to be afraid to have fun because of what others might think.  Remember there are healthy and unhealthy fears.

It’s amazing that my 5-year-old son will sing at the top of his lungs when a song comes on that she knows.  He has no fear of what others will think.  That’s something we learn.  I’m afraid to sing in public, although I was known for rapping at karaoke in college. I bet I wasn’t afraid when I was 5.  I learned to be afraid of what others might think.  We can call that fear, or maybe shame.  I’m ashamed of how I sound when I sing. Many leaders have a fear, or shame of their leadership.  They don’t know if they are good or not, because they haven’t ever tried.  Maybe this isn’t the best example, but the point I’m getting at is that your fear isn’t a healthy one.  Its not in place to save your life.  It is something you learned to protect yourself from a perceived risk, which isn’t even real.  People don’t care if you’re good or bad at leadership… at least not at first.  You aren’t expected to know everything.  In order to be good at something you must be brave, or as Todd Henry put it in one of his talks, Brilliance Demands Bravery.

I want to break down 5 tips on being Brave.

1)Breathe – A few years ago, at TEDxCharlotte I heard Jonathan Winn tell his story on the power of one breath. – He talks about how deep breathes can calm your nervous, relax your mind and body.  When I’m nervous, I breathe.

2) Reason with yourself why you’re afraid – Figure out what your fears are all about.  Many time it is not the act that we’re afraid of, but rather the reaction of others.  Before I started teaching college, I was afraid to speak in front of people.  On my 1st day of class, I suffered from The Imposter Syndrome and I didn’t want to go, but I muscled through it.  I knew that when I got In front of that class they would find me out as a fraud.  They would ask me a technical question that I didn’t know the answer too, then start booing and throwing papers at me.  Well, they did ask some questions that I didn’t know the answer to.  But they accepted that I didn’t know, and a quick Google Search got us the answer and got the class back on track. People actually liked and learned from what I had to say. I was helping people.  My fears had not justification.  Now, to break this down. I wasn’t afraid of teaching or speaking.  I was afraid of some reaction that I thought the people I was teaching might have.  I was afraid of something that I thought might happen, but was 99.9% likely to NOT happen.  Figure out what you’re really afraid of.

3) Accept your fears – Accept the fact that you’re afraid, and that it is okay to be afraid.  But also play out that fear.  What’s the worse thing that can happen?  No Really, what’s the worse that can happen.  So, let’s play out the teaching scenario… I show up the first day of class, with my zipper down.  The students laugh at me.  They ask me questions I don’t know the answers to.  I freeze, the students throw things at me. One of the students works for the local news paper and writes a story about how dumb I am.  I get fired from my day job… Really?  Really?  Doesn’t this sound ridiculous?  That’s because it is.  Most of our fears are for things that have never happened and most likely would/could never happen. In the 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris, says to list out your fears, play them out, then list how you would recover from them if they actually played out as you think they might.  That’s some good advice, but I like to add one more thing to it.  If you’re afraid of something, then you need to evaluate if that’s a good fear, or a bad fear.  Will the fear save your life?  If not, then it is probably hiding something that’s meaningful for you and it might be where you need go.  If you’re afraid of stepping out and taking the lead, then it is probably the one thing you need to be doing the most.

4) Visualize the Win – Visualize yourself overcoming your fears.  When I talked about negotiation, and when I was learning about negotiation, I was taught that you need the to let the other party, visualize the win.  Let them see a way for this negotiation to be over and them to get an outcome they are satisfied with.  When I’m bartering a deal for some website work that I am doing, I show them what the website might be like, then work our way backwards to the win.  Getting over your fears and being brave is sort of like negotiating with yourself. You have to convince yourself that the bad things you think might happen, likely won’t, and if they do, you can get past them, and be stronger for having gone through them.

5) Execute – Gary Vaynerchuk says ideas are crap, execution is everything.  That statement is spot on.  Sometimes I let fears get in the way of my execution, but in order to be brave, step out and be a leader, you must execute.  If you don’t execute, you’re leaving your best work in the graveyard.  You’re depriving the world of something you should give them.  If you want change, you must execute. If you want things to get better, you must execute. If you want to be a leader, you must execute.  Be BRAVE – Breath, Reason, Accept, Visualize, Execute.

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