Leading like a Jedi – Fear is the Path to the Dark Side

For those of you who know me, stating that I am a total geek wouldn’t be surprising. For those who don’t know me, I am a total geek. I grew up with Star Wars as a major part of my childhood. Looking back, I realize that one of the greatest leaders in modern history was right there in front of me – and all of us – the whole time. In leadership conferences, we hear countless references to Master Yoda and his “reverse speech” style of teaching. So, over the next few weeks, I will be sharing the 5 most valuable leadership lessons the 900-year-old Jedi Master taught us. This week, we’ll master our fear.

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering

– Yoda

Fear is the single fastest way for a leader to destroy his organization. It is an all consuming, action ending, innovation halting emotion that grinds growth and success to a halt. Dealing with it as quickly as possible is one of the most important things the leader must do once he realizes he is afraid. Dealing with it requires the leader to recognize the source. Almost inevitably, the fear of failure is at the root. Signs that a leader might be afraid include:

  • Self Sabotage
  • Resistance to New Ideas
  • Perfectionism
  • Insecurity

If you are a leader (hint: you are) and are displaying any of these traits, it’s time to face your fears. I was once taught a great acronym for fear. It stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. That means that you are afraid of what isn’t happening right now. The false evidence has you convinced that it really is happening. Problem is that the evidence is false, and therefore not reflective of anything. It’s time to change your perspective.

  1. Explore the Possibilities – First, take a look at all of the possible outcomes to a situation. Sometimes just knowing what could happen next can alleviate your fear. It doesn’t take much time to explore the possibilities and realize that failure isn’t the most likely outcome. In all likelihood, something other than failure will occur, even if your intended result doesn’t happen.
  2. Ignore the “Whatifs” – Whatifs are those nasty little thoughts that make all possible outcomes disastrous. The thing about the whatifs is they’re not rational. It’s a statistical impossibility for all possible outcomes to be bad. Be positive when you consider your outcomes and see things for their real possibilities. Sometimes taking a step away from the issue at hand can help you reset into a more positive mindset.
  3. Face the “Worst Case” – If everything does go as bad as it possibly can, how bad is it really? Many times the worst case scenario is a minor inconvenience. Knowing that could alleviate the fear and allow you to move forward with your growth.
  4. Have a Plan B – If there really is a disastrous outcome as a possibility, and your fear is founded, then create a plan B. You should have a backup plan that can turn the worst case scenario around should things head down that road. When you know you have a backup, it’s easier to move forward fearlessly.

Remember, you didn’t become the leader you are without facing fear. As the great John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” Take the risks that make sense, face your fear, and banish it into the abyss.

Named must your fear be before banish it you can.

– Yoda

That’s it for this week! Come back next week and we’ll discuss yet another valuable lesson from Master Yoda. And, as always, share your thoughts with us in the comments, and may the force be with you! Have an awesome Tuesday!

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.