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Leader.

Leader.

When I think of the words “leader” or “leadership”, part of me wants to roll my eyes at the fluffiness. The terms “manager” and “management” just sounds stronger, more determined and more focused.

When I think of a manager, I think of someone who calls people out on their bullshit. He or she is a numbers person. They get down to business, make the tough decisions, streamline processes, and increase profits. When I think of a leader, the first thing that comes to my mind is people. Leaders are people oriented, while managers are business oriented. A person in a position of leadership needs to excel at both.

But here’s what I think…

People are at the heart of everything we do. Brené Brown says humans are wired to connect with one another. They say the number one reason employees stay at their jobs is because of the friendships they make with coworkers.

The skills of a leader outshine the skills of a manager. Yet, leadership skills seem to be highly underrated.

Leadership is hard to define. And this is coming from someone who has been trained in leadership! There’s talk about “natural born leaders”, and while I think there’s some truth to the thought, I think you need to want to be a leader in order to lead.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart, and there is much, much more to it than what people understand on the surface. When I discuss leadership concepts with people, they agree and may even tell a story that justifies their understanding. But unless they practice what they preach, I have little respect for their opinion. There’s a big difference in thinking and doing, and it’s leaders that differentiate one from the other.

Fear.

Fear.

I’ve never been the type who craves attention, likes the spotlight.  I’d much rather blend in with the crowd.  Typically, I choose to downplay successes or celebrations.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about why.  Why do I not want the attention?  Is it fear of a possible future failure (or success)?  Fear of judgement from other people?  Fear of being seen, aka fear of being vulnerable?

There are two things about those statements above:

  1. It all begins with fear
  2. It goes back to being vulnerable

I talk about vulnerability a lot.  I’ve realized that many of our successes in life, whether they are in relationships, business, friendships, or personal growth, all begin with being vulnerable.  What I’ve discovered about myself is that I have a fear of vulnerability.  But I’m working on it, in baby steps.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What I learned in one moment of vulnerability and overcoming a fear, was that it was freeing.  I was able to let go of the “what if”, because I finally had an answer and could move forward.  So if vulnerability and fear-facing can lead to freedom, progress and growth, why is it so terrifying?

Honestly, I have a greater fear of success than I do of failure.  I’ve had a lot of let downs in my life.  And although I’ve also had a lot of successes, they’re not not as memorable.  As humans, we tend to focus on the negative.  I am sensitive and people are mean.  I have dreams, but I am terrified of putting myself out there and exposing parts of myself to people who are critical, judgmental, verbally abusive, insensitive and unapologetic.  I have the type of personality where I like to play it safe.  I’m not one to settle, but I also think that if it’s not broke, why fix it?  I like to stay within my comfort zones.  If I fail, it pretty much flies under the radar.  But if I succeed, there comes recognition, celebration, and attention.  All things I don’t particularly like, but need to learn to embrace.

What’s funny about this moment is that a link to a video came across my Twitter feed about letting fear guide you.

The message can be narrowed down to 3 things about fear:

  1. Recognize it
  2. Face it
  3. DSA (Do Something About) it

Although I am in the beginning stages of facing it, the message was inspiring.  After learning more about Leonard Kim, I discovered that we are a lot alike.  He said that we should use fear as an indicator that we are onto something great.  Something that allows you to connect with others and relate to them as well.  This goes back to the wise words of Brené Brown:

Connection is why we are here.  We are hardwired to connect with others.

How do we connect with others? By being vulnerable.

Like Mr. Kim, I just want to connect with the world.  So how did he overcome his fears?  By writing and publishing his writing to public forums.  He started writing out of passion, and it transformed his life.

When I think about my life, my dreams, my best possible outcome, I have no doubts that it could be great – if I let it.  I have everything that it takes to get there: passion, motivation, determination, drive, and ambition.  I just need to overcome my fear of being vulnerable, so I can connect to the world.