How Mindfulness can help Leaders to overcome Fear

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Everyone gets scared and overwhelmed at times; it is unavoidable. 

What are leaders commonly afraid of? 

In my own experience as a leader over the past decades, I have most commonly encountered  the following types of fears: 

  • Fear of not being good enough

  • Fear of being in over your head (overwhelmed)

  • Fear of failure or not producing desired results 

  • Fear of being criticized 

  • Fear of not being a good communicator 

  • Fear of making difficult decisions 

  • Fear of responsibility 

Do a few of these look familiar to you?

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions, which can lead to several negative outcomes for your health (as it generates stress), your leadership effectiveness, and the quality of your decisions.

Additionally, as your actions affect others around you, they can be a major source of stress and frustration to your team(s) and family. 

Worse, as Yoda (Star Wars) wisely stated: 

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Identifying with our fearful thoughts, and believing they are true, gives them the power to hold us back and generates a feedback loop of negative thoughts and emotions. One negative thought triggers another, and amplifies our fearful state of mind, triggering a vicious cycle. 

Fear is not always obvious and can be disguised in other negative emotions, such as startle, worry, anxiety, doubt, nervousness, insecurity, or distrust.

Not everyone will experience this type of fear in the same way and symptoms run along a spectrum from mild to extremem. We can distinguish between physical and emotional symptoms.

Emotional symptoms may include:

  • intense feeling of panic or anxiety

  • overwhelming need to escape a situation that produces the fear

  • feeling detached from yourself

  • feeling like you’ve lost control over a situation

  • thinking that you may die or pass out

  • generally feeling powerless over your fear