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Do you know what peoples’ worst fears are? According to studies public speaking comes first, followed closely by meeting new people, and only then by the fear of dying. As a leader it is likely that the first two will come into play in your career. If that is true, why would anyone want to be a leader? Leadership and leadership qualities may look glamorous in the movies but in real life it is a struggle to overcome fears.
You can apply one or more of the following methods to overcome whatever is holding you back from pursuing your leadership qualities
Leadership Quality #1: Practice
Leadership opportunities are everywhere. At the very least families provide great leadership opportunities. Start with something that has little competition. Take charge of the dishes one night. Lead the process. See if you can recruit volunteers to not only do the dishes, but to also enjoy doing it. Think of Tom Sawyer inspiring Becky Thatcher and others to paint the fence. You can do this. Once you have honed your leadership qualities in a safe location surrounded by safe people, you are ready for the next level.
I suggest joining associations, clubs and organizations. Leading a group where you share a passion with everyone else is much easier. What you may lack in ability to lead can be made up with passion. All of these smaller leadership opportunities are preparing you for leading larger causes and larger organizations. Feel free to practice leadership by leading a committee or even a pretend club if that is easier. Practice is the best way to overcome your fears. While some are born with a measure of leadership talent all of us must practice this skill.
Leadership Quality #2: Learn
Become a student of Leadership Evaluate other leaders quietly and attempt to make similar decisions. Many colleges offer classes on leadership that put you in contact with mentor leaders. There is nothing like a mentor for helping you gain confidence and abilities to lead.
Of course there are also countless books that can teach you about leadership. From the likes of Attila the Hun, Mother Theresa – the list is endless. I recommend learning from all of them. Sometimes you will need to be Attila and other times Mother Theresa. Leadership is often unpredictable and the more tools you develop to overcome challenges, the easier it will be to override your pesky fears.
Leadership Quality #3: Action
Develop a zest and an excitement for the challenge. Take some action. Many years ago when I was in airborne school training to jump out of airplanes, we went through two weeks of training before we even thinking of attempting the act. Those two weeks were important in preparing our bodies and minds, but all of that training would have meant nothing if didn’t actually jump!
It was the action that made all of those lessons suddenly make sense and made the pain of the training worthwhile. Leadership goes the same way. You can study and practice all day, but in the end, you need to go out and experience your leadership qualities Life will give you opportunities – what will you do with them? When you lead, you are likely to find out that you are better at this than you ever knew. Stick with it, deal with the challenges, stick with it but whatever you do, take action.
Leadership Quality #5: Breathe
I can recall a stressful situation during my time as a leader of a whole organization. The whole organization was counting on me to come through for them. For a long time I contemplated my reality. Suddenly, I realized that in my panic, I wasn’t really breathing. Stress had taken hostage my leadership skills, and my mind was not thinking clearly. One thing I was certain of, was my need of oxygen. When I took a deep breath my fears started to melt away. Oxygen is a beautiful stress reliever.
Leadership Quality #6: Visualize
So maybe all of the other techniques for overcoming your leadership fears are falling flat. Maybe even those small steps seem a bit to risky. From the safety of your Lazyboy recliner you can now visualize success. There are countless studies that show the impact of Leadership in sports and even in public speaking. If you need to visualize yourself as Captain America – do that.
Imagine making a speech that suddenly, miraculously inspires people to solve a world challenge. Leadership qualities are powerful weapons. The world today needs leaders like you and I. We cannot wait any longer for you to overcome your fears. These hard times are calling for wise, strong and compassionate leaders.