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Fear(less) Leadership

How to recalibrate your stress response

In a world plagued by stress, anxiety and fear lurking in our news feeds and infiltrating our thoughts, how does one break away to become a fear(less) leader? Before answering that, we must understand the difference between being fearless and fear(less). It seems subtle on the page but not in practice. 

Our brains aren’t designed for today's world

Too often, in times of uncertainty, leaders act fearless — putting on bold, brave faces and charging into the unknown recklessly. Scary times don’t call for fearless leaders. We don’t need a gladiator jumping into an arena with the hungry tiger. Instead, times of fear and uncertainty call for leaders to become fear(less) — aware of and consciously able to sort through what is truly scary and deserves careful consideration and what is causing undue stress and anxiety without being a real threat.

Evolutionarily, our brains are built to treat all stress similarly — with a fight/flight/freeze reaction to ensure we don’t end up as food in that hungry tiger's jowl. But the reality we live in today is no longer an “eat or be eaten” world. That email won’t kill you, but our bodies treat it as such. When it comes to stress and fear, we have outdated and uninformed brains. Take, for example, the illogical view Americans have about shark attacks. Fifty-one percent of Americans are terrified of sharks, most of whom will not go swimming. This is even though only five people succumb to shark attacks globally yearly. We are 800 times more likely to choke on a bite of food than die from a shark attack.

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