I’ve come to believe that our most powerful lessons come when we figure out something we believe with absolute conviction…turns out to be dead wrong. Happens to me all the time.
As evidence I present a simple tale. It led to one of the most valuable lessons of my career. And, unlike other lessons learned from mistakes, it made me feel a whole lot better about things.
A Story About Fear
It happened when I recently met with a well-known CEO, one who runs a multi-million dollar technology company. He’s one of those leaders. The kind we all strive to be.
He’s confident, smart, makes great decisions. He gets listened to. The rest of us love to watch him in action and in meetings as he speaks up, offers relevant opinions and everyone else takes notice.
He appears to be fearless.
I met with him one-on-one to write up a brief history on his company, which is when he spilled the beans. The truth?
When he first got the position he was nervous. Having never worked for a technology company, he now found he would run one. Sure, he knew how to manage. How to lead. How to inspire staff. But he didn’t have a keen sense of the products the company offered.
In the beginning, he was afraid of messing up and looking bad. Makes sense.
But here’s the thing. Today, years later? He’s still afraid.
He’s afraid of messing up. He’s afraid of making a decision that spins out of control. He’s afraid of costing the company millions, of negatively impacting stakeholders. He’s afraid of losing the company’s edge.
Ever since this seemingly simple dialogue, which shocked me, I’ve paid attention to other great leaders. Here’s where it gets even better.
He is not alone. In fact, he is just one example of this important lesson. It’s an especially important one for men, who have the additional pressure of stereotypes where fear might be seen as weakness.
What Does This Mean For You?
The lesson: every single person, no matter who they are, no matter what they say to you, no matter what you believe about them…is afraid.
The biggest difference between great leaders and everyone else?
They act anyway. They know they might actually fail or look silly. But they also know they have what it takes to handle it. They know the world won’t end. They know they’ll