Love, Fear and Courage – your choice?


Love, Fear and Courage – your choice? Everything that’s really important to us in life, everything,  is driven by just one of two things: love or fear.

One of these drivers is sustainable and the other is not. The good news is, we always have a choice about which one we allow into the driver’s seat. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at how these drivers show up – starting with fear.

Fear is always in the shadows. It’s linked to our primeval survival instinct. Fear can be valuable when it is triggered by a threat to our life and prompts us to move away from danger. When we’re walking alone at night, fear has us choose the well-lit street rather than the dark back-alley. It has us jump out of the way of the oncoming car we failed to see until the last moment. This is fear at its most helpful. 

But fear can also be triggered when we sense that our livelihood, status or reputation is on the line. In these circumstances, fear can hinder and work against us. Fear might have us react by getting angry or, at the other extreme, to become meek and force us to retreat. Fear can have us close down, reducing the consideration we have for others and instead have an increasing focus on ourselves. We’ll have a tendency to see the world as a place of only winners and losers, with us having to win at all costs. Worst of all, when faced with fear, ego can take hold. Even if we have not recognised ego in ourselves, we have all perceived it in others, and it is rarely, if ever, a compliment. When any of these reactions occur, our judgement becomes skewed and we make decisions we may later regret. Often these decisions adversely affect other people. If we’re lucky, no long-term damage is done, but at the very least, these reactions to fear could mean we become blinded and miss an opportunity. Over the long term, living in fear will grind us down, adding to the negative stress of a situation. Being driven by fear is unsustainable. So, what can we do?

While we rarely have any control over whatever it is threatening our livelihood, status or reputation, we do have control over how we respond to the fear it generates. The first step is to choose to see fear in these circumstances for what it is: a warning flag. Once we’ve seen that flag, and acknowledged it, we then open up a second possibility: to choose to respond to the situation sourced from love.

Whenever I mention love in a business context, I notice people can become a little uncomfortable – even jittery. But hang on a minute. When we choose to be driven by love rather than fear, even in a business setting, it creates a much more generative environment. Instead of seeing the world as a place of scarcity, we see it as a place of opportunity. Instead of focusing inward, we retain our focus outward, remaining in service of others – our team and our clients. Importantly, instead of being led by ego, being driven by love opens up the possibility to lead withhumble confidence. Humble confidence is when we are confident in our own strengths, resolute on where we’re heading (even if we don’t know how to get there) and ready to take the decisions when they need to be made. Equally, we have the humility to be comfortable not knowing all the answers to the challenges we face. Instead, we focus on asking the important questions of our team or those around us who can then bring their collective genius to the table to help find the way forward. When we are sourced from love and lead with humble confidence, unlike fear, it will sustain us over the long haul. 

There is one other component to how we can respond when our livelihood, status or reputation is challenged. It’s courage. Courage cannot exist without fear, but it can only be sustained by the love for something. If we have conviction about where we are headed, sourced from love, we will always find the courage to overcome fear. 

In business, as an entrepreneur, CEO, team leader or manager, we will frequently experience fear when our livelihood, status or reputation is threatened – especially in an uncertain market. The opportunity is to learn how to respond through seeing fear as a warning flag and ensure we choose love to drive our actions.