When we attempt something new, when we stretch, when we’re asked to step up, when we’re leaning in, any of the following thoughts might start rolling around:

  • Who made a mistake and thought I was capable of doing this
  • What if I fail
  • What if I simply can’t do it
  • I will be ashamed and embarrassed if I don’t succeed
  • What will others think about me if I don’t pull this off
  • People are looking to me for answers and I don’t know if I have them
  • Something’s wrong if I’m scared; I should feel more confident and competent

Sound familiar?

I’m writing about this again because it’s so often part of the conversation I’m having with clients when they’re moving into bigger, more visible, more responsible roles.

So often.

But fear can be isolating.  The number of times a client has mentioned feeling scared is high and the number of times they’ve heard from peers or superiors on feeling the same, is low.

And a pattern that I see not infrequently is that a leader will hang onto their prior duties and resist stepping fully into the responsibilities of the new role.

Because it’s more comfortable to be in the weeds.

And less scary.

When the spotlight is bright, you’re very likely going to feel its heat.

And that’s completely normal.

Keep going.

Stretch, learn, surround yourself with excellence.

Ask questions.

Find a confidante you can talk with and get input from, someone who knows the terrain.

Be scared.

Tolerate it.

And know that it really does seem that the most meaningful times in our lives, those when we are thriving, are not when we stay safe, but when we attempt something important, unsure if we’re able.


If you’re leading in a new and bigger role, contact me to discuss working together directly to accelerate your first year’s success and reduce missteps.  Go here to download my paper on the 6 essential factors for leading in a new role.

And if you want real leadership stories of people who were scared and did it anyway, the book I wrote has a bunch of them.