Is Fear Actually An Asset?

Is Fear Actually An Asset?Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear” ~ Mark Twain

My 2-year old likes to jump off of things. In fact, all my kids did about that age. Doesn’t matter how high it is, or what’s below, the jumping and the exhilaration far outweighs the threat of a bloody nose.

As we get older and more mature we outgrow that stuff. Sort of.

The Thrill of the Start

One of the most common things I hear from folks who set off to be their own boss is their mix of fear and excitement. Most of my entrepreneur friends love the thrill of the startup – the thrill that comes from a little fear mixed with calculated actions. Fear is the toxin in the fugu. Sometimes it’s the point.

Often fear is seen as something to be overcome, or more accurately, something that makes us a stronger person or helps up become who we are. It keeps us in our comfort zone, and it despises risk.

It can also keep us from making stupid mistakes.

Fear as Your Ally

One of the greatest things I’ve learned is to work with my fear. To hold it close, as a trusted advisor, but not as a master. Sometimes an idea really sucks. Being afraid to set off down that path may actually be your gut telling you it sucks. But you have to be sure.

Learning the subtleties of your own fears is like becoming a master sommelier. To me wine is white or red – I can’t tell you what kind of cask it was in or what other fruits are in it. But I can dissect a recipe pretty well just by taste. Same senses, different focus and knowledge.

That’s how you need to look at your fear. Learn from it. Get to know it. Sense all the subtle levels and it can become one of your greatest assets. Fear is not something to be conquered, but something to be mastered.

Let it be your coach, not your dictator.


  1. Great post. I like to say that “fear is not a strategy”. If you are determining your next steps simply out of fear, you’re probably going to fail.

    A great example is RIAA turning into a suing engine in the U.S. Rather than finding a solution that benefits all, they are simply alienating fans of music and raising the ire of the country. Rather than helping their cause, people now are beginning to sympathize with downloading music.

  2. Doug – You’re right. The flip-side is fear as your enemy rather than ally. If you live in fear of your business model, it’s not much of a model. In the case of the entertainment cartel – RIAA, MPAA, etc. – fear becomes an ASSHAT rather than ASSET. (Sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂 )

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