The Real Advantage of Fear and Anxiety in Leadership

The good you’d like to do – but don’t do because of fear – exposes you.

Fears reveal highest realities.


Fear wipes steam from the glass. The person looking back surprises you.

The awkward potential of anxiety, worry, and fear is uncomfortable self-revelation.

You see yourself clearly when your knees knock, and self-protection takes charge.

Virtue that yields to danger is platitude.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage is not one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”

The point of highest reality:

Generosity with little cost tends toward self-affirming conceit. “See how generous I am.” But generosity with dirty hands expresses the highest reality of kindness.

The highest reality of generosity is humility, not conceit.

You make room for others to learn from responsible failure only when it’s safe. But when higherups inquire, “What are you doing about John’s screw up?”, John ends up under the bus.

The breaking point of kindness reveals you.

Risk reveals highest realities. There’s little advantage in giving second chances when there’s no risk.

Serving the best interest of others out of abundance is safe service.

The highest reality of service is seen when serving others might disadvantage you.


Perhaps it’s useful to acknowledge fear in the pursuit of virtuous leadership. Don’t beat yourself down when you fear generosity, service, or giving second chances.

The door you fear is the door to step through.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

What contribution would you make if self-protection shrank and serving the best interest of others took charge?

How might you step in that direction today?