9 Ways to be Fearless (in an Age of Fear)

It’s the ultimate F word: Fear. While this powerful emotion is inevitable, executives, entrepreneurs and freelance professionals all say the same thing:

Facing our fears helps us triumph in business and in life.

To help us replace our fears with confidence, security and even boldness, this article offers practical tips so we can focus our time and energy on our business success.

Proof Fear is Bad for Business

As C-suites and HR professionals already know, when natural fears go too far, anxiety increases absenteeism and decreases productivity. It threatens individuals, organizations and even national economies.

Here’s proof: Last year consulting giant Deloitte released the report The Future Belongs to the Bold, which states nearly 90% of Canadian businesses lack courage – and the country’s economy is suffering as a result.[1]

Globally, anxiety and depression cost the economy an exorbitant $925 billion US each year in lost productivity, according to the World Health Organization.[2]

Among employees, a recent Workplace Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey found stress and anxiety most often impacts their:

  • Workplace performance (56%)
  • Relationship with coworkers and peers (51%)
  • Quality of work (50%)
  • Relationships with superiors (43%)[3]

As these figures show, if you wrestle with fear, you are not alone. While everyone has some worries, it’s the degree to which we allow it to stifle our growth.

Just last week, the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, devoted to discussing mental illness to eliminate its stigma, catapulted fear into the headlines. More than 131 million people around the world participated in the discussion, which shows the pervasiveness of anxiety, and its impact on business and quality of life.[4]

Today’s Business Threats as Courage Builders

At a macro level, professionals and business owners must now contend with the uncertainty of international political upheaval, the blistering pace of technological disruption and the rapid evolution of demanding consumer expectations in a flat economy.

While we can’t control the macro factors that affect our business success, we can choose to focus on positive attitudes and actions.

For instance, at the micro level of the workplace, if we’re afraid to:

  • Deliver a speech, we may feel emboldened by considering how sharing our experience could help others
  • Network or make cold calls, we may feel more willing to reach out if we consider others may genuinely want our solutions to their pain points
  • Leave a dull or toxic job, we may feel empowered by taking steps toward creating our dream career elsewhere (or on our own).

The Business Benefits of Boldness

Thankfully, Steve Jobs felt courageous enough to create the groundbreaking iPhone and Howard Schultz had an unshakeable belief that Starbucks could bring liquid joy to coffee addicts like me. These business leaders prove courage gives us freedom, confidence and willingness to take more risks.

Recently I connected with Scott Stossel, Editor, The Atlantic and author of My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind.

He candidly shared the specific solutions that have helped him manage his fears enough to flourish as a respected, accomplished media leader:

“1) Do deep breathing exercises;

2) Cultivate gratitude by counting your blessings (because no matter what your current circumstances, or how bad you feel, you probably have far more than you think); and

3) When all else fails, take a benzodiazepine and wait for it to kick in.”

More Ways to Cultivate Courage

Consider these 6 additional tips, which have helped high-profile personalities and entrepreneurs thrive:

“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”

~ Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder, The Huffington Post

“Don’t be afraid to go for positions, jobs or take on clients just outside of your knowledge base. It’s when you’re uncomfortable that you learn and grow the most.”

~ Barbara Corcoran, serial entrepreneur featured on Shark Tank

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

~ Brené Brown, New York Times bestselling author, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

“[Be] a voracious reader and a continuous learner … By replacing fear with courage, small business owners have a lot to gain.”

~ Brian Tracy, New York Times bestselling author, Just Shut Up and Do It: 7 Steps to Conquer Your Goals

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt, Former First Lady of the United States of America

“It’s normal to feel fear… If you just accept the probabilities, that diminishes fear.”

~ Elon Musk, Founder, Space X, co-founder, Tesla Motors and co-founder SolarCity

Go From Fearful to Fierce

A positive quality of fear is that it represents opportunities for growth in our personal and professional life. Entrepreneurship in particular is the biggest dare because the learning curve isn’t steep – it’s vertical.

This month marks the fourth anniversary since I faced my fears and launched my own business. Thanks to this daunting and rewarding path, I now love the thrilling expansiveness that comes from breaking out of my snuggly, warm comfort zone.

(I’m like fear with a blonde wig, so) I have given several speeches about my own journey toward fearlessness over the past few years. Recent news headlines made me realize now is absolutely the right time to write about these ideas to help others move beyond what spooks them.

So, start wherever you are. Use these tips to take baby steps toward your dreams. I’ll end with words from a wise friend and mentor, “Instead of fear, go to triumph.”

How do you bring courage to your work?

Lisa Goller
Lisa Goller is a marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience serving B2B, technology and retail companies. She helps businesses tell their story through irresistible content marketing and strategic communications.



[1] Deloitte. Lack of courage in business contributing to Canada’s sluggish economy, Deloitte. September 26, 2016.

[2] Jones, Sam. 50 million years of work could be lost to anxiety and depression. The Guardian. April 12, 2016.

[3] Highlights: Workplace Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

[4] Bell Let’s Talk: http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/


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