Tapping the Fear-side of Motivation

People who aren’t afraid aren’t going far.

Fear is the secret heat behind fiery passion. Without fear, passion is transitory, weak, unfocused, and ineffective.

Find and acknowledge your fears.

afraid enough

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I was delighted to see Derek Lidow tapping into the neglected topic of fear in his book, “Startup Leadership.”

My fear:

People ask me the reason behind Leadership Freak. My answer often sets them back.

“I was terrified I wouldn’t matter.”

I’m still terrified I won’t matter. Every post, coaching client, speaking engagement, or consultation answers – but doesn’t resolve – my fear.

I could state my passion in positive, comfortable terms. But saying, “I want to matter,” is a pathetic replacement for terror!

Your motivation doesn’t inspire action because you aren’t afraid enough.


I saw a man on the balcony of a burning building. He risked his life jumping from one balcony to another to escape the flames. Manageable fear lets you to stay put.

Terror enables courageous action.

You’re stuck where you are because you’re comfortable. When scary-fear sits beside you, you’ll move.

Comfortable fear is useless.


It’s better to acknowledge fears than pretend they don’t exist. Fears leaders have include:

  1. Failure.
  2. Disrespect.
  3. Poverty.
  4. Insignificance.
  5. Losing customers.
  6. Stalled progress.
  7. Activity without results.
  8. Meaningless existence.


It’s not all about fear.

The upside of my motivation is a strong desire to learn and explore new ideas. Following curiosity energizes me. My friends call me the question man.

Derek includes the positive side of motivation in, “Startup Leadership.”

Things like:

  1. Learning new skills.
  2. Success.
  3. Having fun.
  4. Being cool.
  5. Feeling like you’re contributing.
  6. Seizing opportunities.

Derek’s book helps leaders tap into strong emotion both in themselves and others.

Derek on strong emotion (1:30): 

What fear or desire drives you today?


Recommended reading: “Startup Leadership,” by Derek Lidow

Resource: Create your own leadership strategy. (Email required.)

Win a copy of “Startup Leadership,” leave a comment on, The Most Challenging Leadership Skill of All.”