304 | How Fear Stalls Leadership Growth (And How To Eliminate it)

Fear controls. Fear can keep you from living a great life, and being successful in business and leadership. Fear leads to bad decisions or not taking action at all, stalling you, your team, your business growth, and customer loyalty, and happiness.

Here are SOME ways fear shows up in leadership:

  • “Playing it safe” with too many decisions
  • Not holding people accountable
  • Not pursuing growth opportunities
  • Avoiding tough conversations
  • Holding on to poor performers way too long

Here’s how to eliminate fear holding your leadership back: 

Biggest Takeaways:

  • What fear does to your business [1:30]
  • Learn two of the most common fears in business and leadership [4:52]
  • How fear was keeping a business from $50,000,000 [10:00]
  • Learn how to “embrace” failure in a healthy way [12:28]
  • Where your fear comes from [14:32]
  • How fear is eliminated [18:03]
  • Your Weekly Action items to eliminate fear [20:21]



Download the transcript  |  Download the episode


Chris LoCurto: It controls you, it keeps you from living a great life and having a successful business. How to eliminate fear that is coming up next.

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.

Eliminating fear. That’s what we’re talking about today. Fear controls. It absolutely controls. It controls your mind sometimes, it controls your decision making sometimes. It has this controlling effect. It can control your body. Yes, if you are fearful, there’s a saying that I have you know “when you freak, you freeze.” You know it’s not just that you freaked out because you got excited about something. The freak is usually because you’re afraid of something or something has shocked you or scared you or caused you to worry greatly.

When you freak, you freeze. Fear can keep you from living a great life, from making great decisions, from being successful in leadership and in business. Fear leads to not taking action. You can make bad decisions. That’s one thing, but it also can cause you to not take action. It can cause you to stall in life.

It can jack up your team. It can jack up your business growth, it can mess with your customer loyalty and it absolutely time and time again messes with your happiness. Here are some ways fear shows up in business. It shows up by causing low productivity due to fear of being attacked. Have you ever noticed that? That may be you. It may be something you’re causing to your team members.

A lot of folks listening to the show, that’s something that they’ve experienced. They do not take big risks. They don’t stick their neck out because they’re afraid that somebody’s gonna chop it right off, right? They’re afraid of being attacked in a situation so they don’t take risks in conversations. They’re not going to bring something up because somebody’s gonna attack them so they don’t bring up important items to discuss. Another way is not having buy in or ownership.

If you’re a fearful leader, we’ve talked about treating people with dignity and respect on another episode. If you don’t treat me that way, if you treat me like an employee, then guess what? Chances are I’m not gonna have much buy-in or ownership in your business because I may be afraid of you, the leader, and I might be afraid of how you’re going to act or respond.

Taking on way too many tasks to please others. If I’m fearful that I need to prove myself to you that I have to prove that I’m worthy or I’m great, then I may take on way too much stuff because of fear. Well, if I don’t take on all these tasks, this person isn’t going to think that I’m great and then I get myself in trouble, right? Because I’ve taken on too much and then I start dropping balls due to overcommitting, which is another thing that can happen because of fear.

Well, I’ve taken on all these things and I’m afraid to say that I can’t handle them all. So pretty soon I start dropping a bunch of balls around here because I’ve over committed myself. And then what happens when the ball’s drop and somebody calls me out on it? I blame them, because I’m afraid of being in trouble. Not taking personal responsibility. I mean that is just so self explanatory. You know? Fear creeps in and what’s the last thing I want to do? I’m afraid so I don’t take personal responsibility.

I blame it on somebody else. I throw somebody else under the bus. I say that it wasn’t me. Whatever it is, fear can cause you to become an island at business. You know? Being afraid to work with people, communicate with people, get in trouble over not being good enough or not doing a great enough job.

Also, fear shuts others down with fear. Now I think we’ve all probably seen that, where you have somebody who is fearful and you know, you think of the dog that the stranger comes up on and it’s just growling and growing and growling at it. Why? Because it’s afraid. So it’s trying to make you afraid. I saw this thing where this Gal was trying to groom this dog and it is just going ballistic.

It’s growling at her making little bites and stuff like that and she touches it from the backside. Calms right down. Interesting to see how much it was afraid of what was going to happen and how it was trying to convince her to be afraid in the process. Fear can be fear of failure. It can be fear of success. It can be fear of rejection. It can be fear of loss. It can be fear of being discovered a fraud.

There’s so many different ways that fear can show up in our lives. One of the biggest things we experience here is fear of failure. That fear of “if I fail, then what? How am I going to be worthy? Am I going to lose a lot of worth? Are people gonna think I’m stupid? Are they going to think that I don’t know what I’m doing?” You know all the different ways that fear of failure can show up because it shows up in your life. If any of you out there never deal with the fear of failure podcast@chrislocurto.com. I want to talk to you. I want to hear from you because I’d love to know the one person on the planet who never deals with that, who’s never experienced that, and I’m going to ask you a few questions, because I bet I will find out pretty quickly that that’s not true, right?

Another thing that leaders deal with a lot is the fear of being discovered a fraud. Guys, for those of you that have been with me for a long time, you’ve heard me talk about this. Your team already knows your mistakes. Your team already knows the things you don’t do well, the things you do well, the things you’ve screwed up that you’re trying to cover up. But we have this big fear of being discovered a fraud.

That we’re not the great leader we try and convince people that we are. It’s tough. Why? Because we keep thinking that if we do, we’re gonna lose all kinds of respect. We’re going to lose loyalty. We’re going to lose productivity. People are gonna think that we’re not worthy and they’re gonna stop working. Guys, there’s a really good chance your team already knows. They already know the things you screw up.

It is easy for me to take responsibility with my team, with family members, with friends, with whoever, because I am already betting that they know that I make mistakes, that I screw up the way that I got to where I am is not trying to hide failures, but understanding that I am going to fail and since I am going to fail, learn from it, grow from it, fix it, do something about it, solve the problem. I’m not saying it doesn’t ever crop up. It does.

It does show up from time to time, but the key is how to eliminate it. And that’s what we’re talking about today, is how to eliminate fear. Now, what we’re going to discuss today is a quick overview of the lesson that we’re going to deep dive into at the Next Level Leadership LIVE Event. Fear, and how we respond to it comes from your Root System. There is also an enemy out there. Fear is not of God. Let me tell you, it’s from the enemy.

So after years and years of being a business owner and leader and coaching leaders and business owners, I know that fear is in every single business. There’s not one. There’s not one that I’ve seen that somebody is not struggling with, Fear of failure at the absolute minimum, the absolute minimum. There’s so many fears. There’s a whole lot of fear that ends up in decision making. Probably. Let’s see. About 20 percent of folks that come through our Stratplan events.

There’s fear in their decision making process. The fear is holding back successful decision making processes and one of our clients that’s been with us for years and years and years came through and we found so much fear in the decision making process. When we discovered it and got rid of it, they were able to go from a $50,000,000 company to 100 million dollar company in three years.

Now it took 30 years to get to 50 million. But once we remove the fear from the decision making, boom, huge growth. One company, that’s how much it held them back there were able to double their revenues in three years, which they weren’t small revenues either. That’s a lot of money and that’s a big company in three years because of getting rid of fear. We have companies that come through that might be a couple million dollars. They might be a $1,000,000 business that are going through and we discover fear and when we remove it,

they’re able to do way more than just doubling their revenues because it’s so holding back the business. Guys, fear in your decision making process will keep you from making smart decisions, will keep you from taking risks, will keep you from growing your team will keep you from getting out of bad decision making. It will hold you back in so many different areas.

So let’s talk about what fear looks like just in the area of like fear of failure. Go with me on this. Have you ever felt fear about a product or service really delivering results or fear of landing a big client or fear of setting direction and in your team actually seeing it through or fear of growing your company into unknown territory or fear of failure and what people will think if you do fail? Now, the is probably yes to a decent amount of that

if you’re a leader or a business owner. Even if you’re not, the answer is probably yes to a lot of that. It is common to think, when I fail, I feel stupid. I feel not good enough. I feel less than, I feel conflict. I feel out of control. I feel a lack of confidence and even I feel loss. Folks, failure isn’t the problem. Failure is a part of life. In fact, there are many thought leaders out there nowadays that are literally teaching that failure is not an option.

It is ridiculous to think that way. Failure is not only an option, but failure is something that you need to embrace because it’s going to happen. Being afraid to fail is like being afraid of going to school to learn for the person who realizes it, failure is one of your best teachers. Now, when I say embrace it, I’m not saying yes, become a big failure.

Spend a whole lot of time failing. I’m saying understand it’s going to happen. Expect that at some point. Failure’s gonna happen somewhere. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t fear it. Instead, take a different tact in your thought processes. Change your expectations, change your perspective. It’s the fear of failure that jacks a person up and it’s the lack of perspective on why it’s jacking you up and where it came from in your life that holds you back.

So instead of thinking that, “oh, I can’t fail, oh, I can’t accept failure. Failure’s not an option. We’re gonna push this thing all the way through it. It’s going to make…” Listen, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to fail. It’s going to happen. It’s gonna happen. People are going to recognize it. People are going to see you failing. It’s okay. It’s what you do with the failure

that’s important. Now, where does fear come from? I’m a believer, and so I believe that there is a God who is my father who loves me greatly, but I also believe that there is a devil and evil that is out to steal, kill, and destroy. I am not unaware of that. No matter how much he tries to convince me he doesn’t exist. I’m very aware that he does. I’m very aware of what he’s trying to do to people. And so obviously fear comes from him. But it also shows up in ways through people in our lives, through experiences in our lives. You may have had a parent who always gave you a reason to not do something. “No, you can’t go out and do that. No. Be careful on that. No, get down off of there. No, I don’t want you riding a skateboard.

No, I don’t want you to riding a bike. No, you can’t drive until your 73 years old. No…” Whatever that thing is, you may have had somebody that was constantly giving you reasons not to do something. “If you do that, you’re gonna fall and you’re going to get hurt.” There’s always these reasons not to do something, and what it does is it creates this fear in you.

Their fear creates a fear in you because you begin to believe it. You receive it and you begin to believe it. So you might be that person who’s never really done any great adventure in your life because somebody was always so fearful that you were going to break your neck, that you were going to do something stupid, right? That you were going to hurt yourself and so you never got on a skateboard. Maybe you didn’t learn how to drive a car.

Maybe you didn’t learn how to ride a bike, maybe didn’t learn how to ski or do something fun and exciting because there was always that fear of you getting hurt and so a lot of times I will create that. I don’t want to do this because failure equals pain and there’s a really good chance I’m going to fail. Maybe it comes from how people have responded to you when you have failed, so maybe it’s you’ve got a parent that when you messed up, you are just the biggest screw up. I can’t believe you did this. Look at this. You’re just like your father. You’re just like your mother. You’re just, you know you never do this right. I knew you weren’t going to do this right. I told you you needed to do this a different way. Whatever that is, if you’ve experienced that in your life, when you fail, their response is telling you how much of a failure that you are.

Then guess what? You’ve probably received that your whole life and you carry that into decision making. You carry that into your life. If people have always responded that way to you, then you’re afraid to do something that people are going to come along and go see you’re an idiot. See, I told you you’re a failure and I believe as Zig used to say, “failure is not a person. It’s a situation. It’s a circumstance. It’s something that happened.”

You are not a failure. You may have failed at something. So what, how do we fix this? Either of these scenarios and so many more, there’s so many more things can train you to fear failure. They can train you to believe that you are a failure, that you do fail a lot, that you’re going to continue to fail, and that kind of fear of failure will hold you back in every single aspect of your life and every area that you are afraid of failing, you will make decisions based on that fear.

Whether you’re a business owner, whether you’re a leader, whether you’re a 10 year old kid who just wants to go climb a tree. Every single situation that you can fail in, you are now basing it on what’s going to happen if you do fail. So let’s talk a little bit about what to do on how to eliminate fear. Now, fear hates information. One of the things we focus on heavily around here is perspective.

The fastest way to eliminate fear is to put it into perspective. Now that’s what we’re going to teach you how to do at The Next-Level Leadership LIVE Event. The most valuable thing in the world is the truth, so valuable that it has often been barricaded by a bodyguard of lies. That was Winston Churchill who said that the most valuable thing in the world is the truth, so valuable that has often been barricaded by a bodyguard of lies.

What does that mean? What causes that bodyguard of lies that barricade of a bodyguard of lies to exist? Fear? What if? What if the truth is shared? What if people do know this truth? What if? What if? What if? Therefore, let me barricade this truth with a bodyguard of lies. Folks, when you don’t have clear perspective on what you’re afraid of, you allow fear to hold you back. So the place to start is by gaining perspective, by asking questions. One of those places is to seek input from others.

This requires stopping and thinking, which is a struggle for business leaders, right? You can’t cruise on autopilot and expect to overcome fear. This eliminating fear lesson is absolutely critical because you can’t solve your business and leadership when fear is holding you back and you see, I said, when not if fear is holding you back, almost all of the leaders and business owners that come to us are blind to the fear that is holding them back.

Now, I’m not saying that they don’t recognize fear holding them back, but usually they don’t have a clue how much it is. Like it’s a huge epiphany that turns their revenues and productivity around once it’s discovered, once it’s once we can see it. Once we can apply to different areas. Once we help them to see their decision making process, once we help them to see how they’re leading their leaders, how they’re leading their teams, when they see this stuff, all of a sudden they start to realize, oh my gosh, this is holding back everything. So here’s our weekly action items.

Something you can start doing right now. Start gaining perspective on your fear. Now here’s a quick tool that’s a little jumpstart to gaining perspective. Rank the impacts of your decision making. Where does fear show up in decision making? Not making the decisions, not doing things, not, you know, not climbing that tree, not making the business decision, not not sticking your neck out for your leaders.

So here’s what I want you to do. Rank the impacts. Start by ranking: What is the possible negative impact on a scale of zero to 10? So if the situation is, you know, giving a presentation in front of your team at work, what’s the possible negative impact ranking on zero to 10, zero being no negative impact at all, 10 being nuclear war, nuclear destruction, this is going to be horrible.

This is going to be so bad that it’s just to be a bomb that destroys everything. It’s so bad. What you will find is that most people in almost every single time I asked this, almost every single time people come up with the same answer, they say no greater than a four. Sometimes they’ll say about a three, but usually it’s that no greater than a four. Oh, okay. So it’s not nuclear destruction.

“No, no. It wouldn’t be that bad.” “Okay. It might hurt a little bit, it might have a little bit of a negative impact, but it’s really not that big?” “No, it probably isn’t.” “Okay.” Now let’s rank the possible positive impact on a scale from zero to 10. If you actually did do this, how positive, what would the positive impact be because you did it. Almost every single time, people come up with the same answer: probably an eight. So you are thinking about not doing this thing.

You are afraid of doing this thing, you know, giving a presentation before your team, whatever that thing is that’s holding you back, bringing on a new product line, leading people into leadership roles, whatever it is, you’re choosing not to do this right now because you’re afraid of the four impact, but if you do it, it probably has the potential of being an eight and that’s when people go, this is really stupid, isn’t it?

I go, “No, it’s not stupid at all. It’s just you’ve been trained to believe to fear the failure. You’re more concerned about that four impact because it means that you failed in your mind than the potential eight if you pull it off, and really if it is a four, is that going to be that bad? No, it’s not. Okay. Then let’s change our perspective here. Let’s change our expectations.

Let’s change our thought processes on this. Instead of fearing this, let’s call it what it is. Let’s gain some perspective. Let’s shed some light on this sucker and let’s make some better decisions.” Now, getting it out of your culture and keeping it from affecting your decision making as a business and as a leader or a business owner is more than a ranking exercise and it’s a lot. There’s a lot that you need to do and that’s why this is such an important lesson that we focus on.

Just looking at some of those decisions. This can help you this week to get that done by changing the way that you look at it, but to get out of your culture there’s a lot to that, so if fear is in your culture, I can promise you this. It is literally holding your whole team, your whole business back.

That’s why eliminating fear is one of the six key lessons we will be teaching at the next level leadership live event to give you not only the perspective but the tools that you need to remove it from your leadership and your business. So get more information about the event and your tickets at $200 off by going to ChrisLoCurto.com/events. So keep in mind this $200 goes away soon, so make sure that you get your tickets for you and your leadership team or even team members right now.

One of the things we always hear is people say, “Ah, I wish I would’ve brought my leadership team,” so do that. Let me show you greater perspective and give you tools on how to change your leadership and your business. Well folks, as always, hopefully this has helped you today, helped you to remove or begin eliminating fear in your life the best you possibly can. As always, take this information, change your leadership, Change Your Business, change your life. Join us at the Next-Level Leadership LIVE Event and join us on the next episode.




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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

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