the dark seed within us all

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
— Bertrand Russell

As business leaders and entrepreneurs, we are explorers. We are drawn to discover what’s out there, without knowing the outcome or if we even have the courage to face the unknown. Our challenge is twofold. First, we are all mortal human beings, we unknowingly allow fear to germinate and grow within us. Second, the unknown in the business world has expanded beyond imagination. We are discovering that our world is a dynamic system, highly sensitive to rendering limitless outcomes–chaos. In times of change, confrontation with the unknown is inevitable and as a consequence, fear is pervasive.

Fear has many faces: self-doubt, negativity, criticism of ourselves or others, rigid thinking, complaining and seeking control over others are but a few. When pure fear appears in our mind, it can shut us down mentally or physically and life can become quite dark. Commonly, when we are experiencing fear, we are prone to be highly reactive and irrational, which can lead to hasty decision making.

Ironically, the key to conquering fear is to not resist it. Fear is natural, as is our resistance to change. Recognizing fear within ourselves and practicing acceptance of it are powerful tools. It is imperative we learn to identify the many faces of fear and accept them–without reacting to them. When we understand that giving inappropriate attention to the past or future allows fear’s illusory reality to control us, we learn to be present in the moment. We see that we cannot control what has happened in the past, nor can we control future events. As a result, we are able to act on the one thing we do have control over: the present moment..... there, we find inner balance and clarity.


“On the ‘outside’ my business associates, employees, even friends who knew me well, saw me as a strong, confident leader. Little did they know that at times, especially during times of chaos or turmoil, fear dominated my life. Denial clouded my perception. At these times, I ignored reality because it hurt when I thought about it. When painful thoughts emerged, as they inevitably did, I quickly and anxiously shoved them away. It was as if my thoughts were my enemies and as they approached, I turned and ran as fast as possible in the opposite direction. Instead of expending my energy on living my life, I focused almost exclusively on avoiding pain, hiding disturbing feelings and keeping myself as numb as I could.

When I learned to recognize my fear and accept the fact that I was experiencing fear, it was an empowering step for me. Next, I learned how to calm the fear and eventually to remove its power over me. My decision making skills and anticipatory skills have grown exponentially and above all, I have an inner peace that fear can no longer steal from me.”


Fear, true fear, is a savage frenzy. Of all the insanities of which we are capable, it is surely the most cruel.
— Georges Bernanos


Questions for Self-Exploration

The content, structure and flow of this exercise are designed to guide you in:

  • examining your thoughts and actions for the fear they may contain

  • identifying your fears and their sources

  • acknowledging how your fears affect you and your interactions with others

  • applying this knowledge positively and productively to address your present fears and prepare for future ones