Afraid? Stop Being So Selfish!

One of the hardest lessons I ever learned was that I couldn’t lead what I needed. I was reminded of this when I recently heard Ken Blanchard say, “Fear and self-doubt is an ego problem. Why? Because you are focusing on yourself.”

Ken Blanchard saying Fear and Self-Doubt is an ego problem. Because you are focusing on yourself.

As a leader, you should be prepared to face your fears and self-doubts then dismiss them for what they are: a self-serving view. As a servant leader, you are called to serve others. This means doing what’s right for all stakeholders and putting the needs of others before yourself.

In your service as a leader there will be times when you need to risk your neck. You need to go out on a limb that may break beneath you. As you fear those moments and the outcomes, remember: you are here to serve others. You must not let fear for yourself and doubts of your own abilities interfere with what’s right for the organization.

Question: How do you conquer fear and self-doubt?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

6 thoughts on “Afraid? Stop Being So Selfish!”

  1. I believe that in order to conquer fear, leaders need to practice facing and then working through fearful situations. Practice makes perfect. Leaders should seek out arenas that allow them to engage fear. For me this happens in the sports I participate in, for others it might be something completely different. Whatever the arena, the goal is to learn how to not lot fear control you.

    Great post.

  2. Excellent post – Agree with the general concept and would add a slightly different perspective.

    Emotions are not bad. Humans are emotional beings and fear serves a purpose. Fear is a warning alarm for something whether there is really something to dangerous to fear (like getting out of the way of a speeding train) or not. Leaders simply can’t let fear stop them from doing what needs to be done.

    Some leaders may believe they should feel confident and fearless before taking action. Leader can and need to take action even when they are somewhat fearful. There are scores of self-coaching questions to help work through the fear. Here are some examples:

    What’s bringing up this fear? (resistance from other people, conflict, turf issues, etc)

    What can I do to resolve or move through this fear?

    What’s the worst that can happen if I act on X?

    What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t address X? (Leverage fear to work for you. Fear can also be a motivator)

    What is the right thing to do?

    What is the wrong thing to do?

    How will things be better for the team or organization when this is handled? (look past the fear to the desired state for the team or organization)

    Another approach is to say “It’s the right thing to do, even though I feel a little fear”.

    Those of us that have lead in scary and risky situations can no doubt recall times when doing the right thing, brought about the right results. We can also recall times when fear keep us from acting and bad things happened.

    People, in particular the right people, will respect that you took action and did what you needed and were paid to do.

    There are lots of ways to address fear. A great servant leaders faces fear, makes the best decision they can, and acts for the right reasons.

  3. Great post, Ben. This quote hit me hard. As I look back on areas of my life, when I serve others, and know I need to do something for them, I am a great deal less fearful than when what I’m looking to do primarily serves me. Part of it might be that I am more comfortable in making a mistake as I know I am just doing the best I can for the person and I’m freer to explore things and challenge. Whatever fear I might have is shared and the challenge to serve energizes me.

    Thank you very much for the post.

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