As leaders, there’s this unspoken expectation to never show your weaknesses — especially not your fears.
In my opinion, this standard needs to be challenged. I see sharing your fears (or, let’s be honest, angst) as a good thing, especially if you’re in a leadership role. Opening up and talking about your angst is the only way to free yourself from your fears and eventually overcome them.
For one, this can establish stronger, honest, and more authentic communication practices between you and your team. Whether you’re opening up about your experiences to your family, friends, or co-workers, everyone needs to express themselves.
Angst Doesn’t Thrive Out in the Open
From my experience, those fears dissipate the moment you share them. You need to give your angst a voice if you don’t want your fears to consume you. It takes more energy, time, and attention to worry in silence than to speak your truth.
When you allow yourself to become vulnerable, you finally have a chance to conquer your fears. Discussing your fears with someone else lets you look at them from a different perspective. It’s like suddenly turning a light on in a dark room.
That new point of view can give you the understanding necessary to overcome that fear. You might realize what’s really important — or that the monster under your bed that scared you was really only a pair of sneakers.
Fears Are Only Thoughts
Fears aren’t real. They’re only thoughts. (In fact, they’re often caused by your angst for XYZ.) It’s worry, anxiety, and lack of confidence bundled up into one thought impulse. Fears become habits that you’re not controlling, meaning you need to take control back.
When you’re able to share them and be honest about them, it’s the first step to conquering them.
This is where mindset plays a big role. Since fears are just thoughts, changing your perspective may help you overcome the fear.
For example, I used to be paralyzed when speaking in front of a crowd. My first time was tough, to say the least. But, I realized that it’s not about me, it’s about the audience. This simple shift helped me alleviate the fear because it reminded me that I’m helping someone. When I understand that I’m in service and it’s not all about me, I speak my best.
Sharing Your Fears Can Help Others
Like anything, this requires practice.
It might feel awkward to show someone your fears at first, but you’ll quickly learn that you’re not alone. Even your role model has fears and they might be similar to yours. Talking about your fears helps you realize that you’re not the only one.
When you share your fears as a leader, you may even be setting an example for someone else in your sphere that looks at you as a mentor.
Whether you have the same fears or they’re different, giving a voice to your fears may encourage someone else to do the same. This can help them unload, face their fears, and gain more confidence.
If you’re a leader, I believe that you should be doing the hard stuff — like sharing your fears and angst — to show others that it’s okay to do it, too. Even people who aren’t in leadership positions can feel the stigma of being “weak” if they talk about their fears. But, that’s not true.
Sharing your fears makes you stronger and sends the message that you’re not inhibited by your inner narrative. You’re empowered by it.