Three Tips to Overcome Fear


When you are a leader of people, sometimes you have fears.  Maybe you were fearful that a presentation wouldn’t go as planned.  Remember the time when you feared speaking in front of your employees?  Recall how worried you were that your boss wouldn’t recognize your team’s efforts to complete a major project on time.  We’ve all had fears and here are some tips to overcome fear!

First, let’s understand where fear comes from.  We aren’t in a world where every decision could cause life or death.  We aren’t being chased by wild animals who want a tasty meal.  After millions of years of humans, we still haven’t developed past our fight-or-flight instincts.

Many of us are paralyzed because we fear the judgment of others.  What if I put myself out there and no one pays attention?  What if my boss doesn’t like my idea?  What if my employees think my ideas won’t work?  What if my significant other doesn’t like my idea?  These are all fears based on other people’s opinions.

Tip 1 – Realize no one is perfect

Understand that whatever you produce, whatever ideas you come up with, whatever you try won’t be perfect.  I’ve written a book, hundreds of blogs and podcasts.  Guess what, they aren’t perfect.  But I started.  I had to get over myself and begin producing.

You won’t be perfect either.  No one is.  Don’t expect to be.  You have important ideas and experiences valuable to your organization.  Speak up and share them.

Tip 2- Overcome the fear of loss

“What if I speak up and lose my job?  I will stay quiet because no one is hiring 55-year-olds.  I need insurance so I can’t lose my position.  What if my peers don’t like what I have to say?”

When you start a thought process with what if, you are setting yourself up to have a fearful thought after it.  What if this terrible thing happens?  Realize that only 2% of the things we fear happen.

Instead, focus on the gains you can have.  I speak up and my boss loves my idea.  I am 55 and I have a lot of experience to provide.  My peers like i when I speak up because they are thinking the same thing.  Flip the script on the fear of loss.

Tip 3- Picture the future state

Sometimes during a Lean journey, employees fear process change.  “I’ve been doing things this way for 20 years, and now you want me to change?  Don’t come out here from the office and tell me how to do my job.”

These are symptoms of fearing a change to a process.  When I run into this, I often ask employees if they invented the process.  Most of the time they say no.  Then I ask them why they are fighting so hard to defend the process.

I present a future state where they understand the benefits of trying an alternative method.  I ask them for their support and help in developing the future state.  Finally, I ask them to try it for a while and if they don’t like it, we can figure out how to improve it further.

When people see the benefits, it helps them overcome fear.

As always, it is an honor to serve you, and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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