On fear — the requirement for courage
2 min read

On fear — the requirement for courage

On fear — the requirement for courage
Photo by Stefano Pollio / Unsplash

On falling prey to fear

I have a confession to make: I’ve always been terrified of being the face of my own company. Of being seen, heard, witnessed. There’s a part of me that still cares a lot about what others think of me.

What will others think of me? Will they approve? What if I say something stupid?

The truth is that I’ve spent a lot of my life asking for permission to even exist and take up space. When I first started DemandMaven and promoting myself and the company, I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose. I shouted from the rooftops what my opinions were. I shared what I knew, and when I learned, I shared publicly, openly, and wantonly my newfound wisdom.

But as I discovered service-market fit and then later tore-down and re-built DemandMaven a dozen times over, I started to gain a reputation. The more steps I took, the more visible I suddenly felt. And as our team grew, the more the pressure grew.

Suddenly, there was more to lose (at least in my mind).

I stopped sharing my world in a feeble attempt to protect myself. I still spoke at conferences, on podcasts, but I stopped doing the things that not only made me feel good, creative, and connected with my peers, but generated revenue for the business.

It wasn’t until this summer that I realized I’ve been living by other people’s standards, rules, and opinions for far too long. I was too afraid of what others thought to take any steps forward, and it was preventing me from achieving things that were important to me.

I had been in hiding and I needed courage to come out again.

On fear becoming the prey

What I’m learning about courage is that courage doesn’t mean that you aren’t afraid. On the contrary — you must experience fear in order to be courageous. Courage exists where fear is present, and it’s up to us to wield it.

The opportunity for courage is on the other side of fear.

Courage is the divine act of proceeding anyway in spite of the fear. I’m learning to be more courageous every day. If I am to lead, I must learn to be courageous and persevere (even when things are grave or challenging).

People probably don’t want to hear that a founder, CEO, or leader can experience such insecurity, weakness, or fear — especially one that speaks on growth, strategy, and leadership. There's too much disillusionment in that reckoning.

But if I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that there’s power in being willing to be cracked all the way open.

I even look forward to it now. ✨