How do you lead when you’re afraid?

Lots of people are keeping a stiff upper lip online, but when I meet with people I can see the fear in their eyes.

I’ll be honest, I’m afraid of the coming storm. But I’m trying to get all that out of my system as quickly as possible so I can start thinking rationally again and be ready for the storm.

Some writing that demonstrates leadership in the face of the economic storm?

Tim O’Reilly who draws upon poetry to offer some calming words and good advice.

Fred Wilson (a NY-based VC) who uses his skills to try to predict a bottom.

Are you seeing great examples of leadership coming out of fear? Please post them. And if you just want to talk about how afraid you are, come on over to FriendFeed and join me in the fear party.

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40 thoughts on “How do you lead when you’re afraid?

  1. Fear is a critical part of leadership. The important part is to not let those fears paralyze you, instead use them to discover what assets are you have and leverage those to find your direction.

    Like

  2. Fear is a critical part of leadership. The important part is to not let those fears paralyze you, instead use them to discover what assets are you have and leverage those to find your direction.

    Like

  3. Nothing to fear.

    Unless the banks here pull an Iceland, I’m not terribly worried about anything. This is a lesson for everyone: spend far less than you make. Save whatever you can, and live below your means. Most wealthy people (not the gross consumerist ones you read about) live far below their means, yet they enjoy comfort and money in the bank should the need arise.

    Simple fact: most American millionaires drive used cars and live in older homes. They don’t have to have the latest and greatest. The latest and greatest will keep you being the financial power curve as a middle class worker.

    Like

  4. Nothing to fear.

    Unless the banks here pull an Iceland, I’m not terribly worried about anything. This is a lesson for everyone: spend far less than you make. Save whatever you can, and live below your means. Most wealthy people (not the gross consumerist ones you read about) live far below their means, yet they enjoy comfort and money in the bank should the need arise.

    Simple fact: most American millionaires drive used cars and live in older homes. They don’t have to have the latest and greatest. The latest and greatest will keep you being the financial power curve as a middle class worker.

    Like

  5. It’s best to first step back and get clear on the underlying psychology of all this. Without this step, you are simply going to continue to cycle through those fear-laden neural networks again and again, becoming ever more tightly wound and fearful.

    Without first stopping the cycle, you will not be able to exert leadership. Part of getting there is breaking through reflexive responses like denial, depression, and anger as quickly as possible, so that you can be once again free to act without those distortions.

    And to do so, it’s best to first understand those responses.

    Learn about the broader psychological issues driving this crisis here:

    http://businessmindhacks.com/post/psychological-aspects-of-the-financial-crisis-in-warren-buffett-we-trust

    Like

  6. It’s best to first step back and get clear on the underlying psychology of all this. Without this step, you are simply going to continue to cycle through those fear-laden neural networks again and again, becoming ever more tightly wound and fearful.

    Without first stopping the cycle, you will not be able to exert leadership. Part of getting there is breaking through reflexive responses like denial, depression, and anger as quickly as possible, so that you can be once again free to act without those distortions.

    And to do so, it’s best to first understand those responses.

    Learn about the broader psychological issues driving this crisis here:

    http://businessmindhacks.com/post/psychological-aspects-of-the-financial-crisis-in-warren-buffett-we-trust

    Like

  7. Break the rules. The ones who are getting past this crap are breaking the rules and making it happen. I’m talking about adding a little noise to the simplicity. You can do anything if you stand up and look at things from a different angle.

    Like

  8. Break the rules. The ones who are getting past this crap are breaking the rules and making it happen. I’m talking about adding a little noise to the simplicity. You can do anything if you stand up and look at things from a different angle.

    Like

  9. Well, seriously, now would pretty much be the right time to check out which stock to buy. You have to realize though you’re in it for a longer time though. Maybe hold on to them for a couple of years. But invest enough and pick some serious candidates and this could get you some serious cash. No, I’m definitely not pessimistic about this current economic climate.

    Like

  10. This may sound negative, but I truly mean it in an optimistic way. If some “hard times” temporarily fall on the US, it may be one of the best things that could happen. People can pull together, attitudes toward life can change, friends and family often become more important, people’s lives can change, etc.

    I hope that one result from the election is that whoever wins inspires people to work together, rather than expect some hero that can solve all our problems. MacGyver isn’t running.

    Like

  11. Well, seriously, now would pretty much be the right time to check out which stock to buy. You have to realize though you’re in it for a longer time though. Maybe hold on to them for a couple of years. But invest enough and pick some serious candidates and this could get you some serious cash. No, I’m definitely not pessimistic about this current economic climate.

    Like

  12. This may sound negative, but I truly mean it in an optimistic way. If some “hard times” temporarily fall on the US, it may be one of the best things that could happen. People can pull together, attitudes toward life can change, friends and family often become more important, people’s lives can change, etc.

    I hope that one result from the election is that whoever wins inspires people to work together, rather than expect some hero that can solve all our problems. MacGyver isn’t running.

    Like

  13. While I have been following the issues and I understand that one of the most dangerous reactions is panic, I’m trying to use it as an opportunity to learn. I realized when prices on food and basic goods started spiking, that I’m far too ‘city’ and don’t know how to do most of the things people did generations ago during The Depression.

    My family is turning it into an educational experience, albeit sparked by necessity in some cases. We’re trying to learn some of the ‘lost skills’ that my great-grandparents knew so inherently. Simple things, like how to grow a garden with fresh veggies (something I’ve never done), to things I can turn into fun little science experiments for my daughter (such as learning to mix your own laundry detergent, making cheese, etc..).

    I think the worst thing any of us can do is watch the economy crumble and not learn something more than ‘don’t take out massive loans’ from the entire situation. To me, it was wake-up call that I’m extremely spoiled by modern life and that there are a ton of basic skills I don’t have a clue how to do. As someone who lives in ‘the big city’ it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit more about the simple life.

    Like

  14. While I have been following the issues and I understand that one of the most dangerous reactions is panic, I’m trying to use it as an opportunity to learn. I realized when prices on food and basic goods started spiking, that I’m far too ‘city’ and don’t know how to do most of the things people did generations ago during The Depression.

    My family is turning it into an educational experience, albeit sparked by necessity in some cases. We’re trying to learn some of the ‘lost skills’ that my great-grandparents knew so inherently. Simple things, like how to grow a garden with fresh veggies (something I’ve never done), to things I can turn into fun little science experiments for my daughter (such as learning to mix your own laundry detergent, making cheese, etc..).

    I think the worst thing any of us can do is watch the economy crumble and not learn something more than ‘don’t take out massive loans’ from the entire situation. To me, it was wake-up call that I’m extremely spoiled by modern life and that there are a ton of basic skills I don’t have a clue how to do. As someone who lives in ‘the big city’ it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit more about the simple life.

    Like

  15. “Fear is a critical part of leadership. The important part is to not let those fears paralyze you, instead use them to discover what assets are you have and leverage those to find your direction.”

    Not letting fear make you blind to the truths around you.. Fear can make one irrational.. leading to irrational decisions, which leads to only making the mess worse.

    A leader needs to learn how to keep that fear in line and manifest that energy to create good.

    Like

  16. “Fear is a critical part of leadership. The important part is to not let those fears paralyze you, instead use them to discover what assets are you have and leverage those to find your direction.”

    Not letting fear make you blind to the truths around you.. Fear can make one irrational.. leading to irrational decisions, which leads to only making the mess worse.

    A leader needs to learn how to keep that fear in line and manifest that energy to create good.

    Like

  17. I’ve heard that a famous investment cabinet Director works offline every other week. It means that one week she works with the others, connected, etc. And that the other week, she is disconnected from the daily business to take time to think instead of taking decision.

    I met one guy yesterday night that manage fortune for individual. He used to work in big banks in big place and was very stressed, busy because of the others. But now he lives very close to me, outside all of this influence and he even began to buy instead of sell. Because he you saved some money and you based you buy on the bilan of company and not what other are doing (that is your case in big places), you can make good deal these next months (18 months)

    Like

  18. I’ve heard that a famous investment cabinet Director works offline every other week. It means that one week she works with the others, connected, etc. And that the other week, she is disconnected from the daily business to take time to think instead of taking decision.

    I met one guy yesterday night that manage fortune for individual. He used to work in big banks in big place and was very stressed, busy because of the others. But now he lives very close to me, outside all of this influence and he even began to buy instead of sell. Because he you saved some money and you based you buy on the bilan of company and not what other are doing (that is your case in big places), you can make good deal these next months (18 months)

    Like

  19. If you would be looking for leadership, you’re looking in the wrong direction.
    All the frantic media attention is doubling the negative effects of the Credit Crunch. True leadership would not talk about yesterday, but stay calm and look towards the future. As a techblogger, you know technology. You see emerging trends, you see rising industries, potential startups.

    You don’t know economics, so don’t proclaim the end of the world here. Do what you do best. Innovate, stimulate new startups. When in crisis, be brave to face it, and trust that Innovation, new investments, Venture Capital, bold and daring leadership can break this Crunch.

    Like

  20. If you would be looking for leadership, you’re looking in the wrong direction.
    All the frantic media attention is doubling the negative effects of the Credit Crunch. True leadership would not talk about yesterday, but stay calm and look towards the future. As a techblogger, you know technology. You see emerging trends, you see rising industries, potential startups.

    You don’t know economics, so don’t proclaim the end of the world here. Do what you do best. Innovate, stimulate new startups. When in crisis, be brave to face it, and trust that Innovation, new investments, Venture Capital, bold and daring leadership can break this Crunch.

    Like

  21. I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been alone, I’ve been a single parent barely making it with no backup. Those things scared me.

    I have a home, I have a job, I have a family, as do you. I have skills that survive down times and up times. This feels frustrating, but I’m not afraid. Because things do turn.

    Fear is what feeds stupid decisions. I encourage you to focus on the positive and let that guide you instead of fear. You’ll make better choices, and sleep better at night.

    Like

  22. I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been alone, I’ve been a single parent barely making it with no backup. Those things scared me.

    I have a home, I have a job, I have a family, as do you. I have skills that survive down times and up times. This feels frustrating, but I’m not afraid. Because things do turn.

    Fear is what feeds stupid decisions. I encourage you to focus on the positive and let that guide you instead of fear. You’ll make better choices, and sleep better at night.

    Like

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