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Living Like A Lion: The Myth of the Fearless Leader

Kelsey Stacy

By D&L Ambassador, Sam Schleich

I bet if I asked you to name your biggest fear, it wouldn’t take you long to come up with something.  Chances are, it’s one of these ten things:

10. Trypophobia (holes)

09. Aerophobia (flying)

08. Mysophobia (germs)

07. Claustrophobia (small spaces)

06. Astraphobia (thunder and lightning)

05. Cynophobia (dogs)

04. Agoraphobia (open or crowded spaces)

03. Acrophobia (heights)

02. Ophidiophobia (snakes)

01. Arachnophobia (spiders)

This is a list of the top ten fears, according to a recent posting from entitled “Top 10 Phobias of All Time – 2017 Update”.  Most of these are the usual suspects.  Add in public speaking, clowns, and monsters under the bed, and I’m fairly certain you’ll be able to cover the full range of the average person’s greatest fears.  

… I’ll give you a moment to regroup yourself, now that you’re thinking of the creepy crawlies. …  Ready?  Let’s keep going.  We have some important things to discuss.

Today, I want to present three simple ideas regarding living life like a Lion when it comes to our fears.  First, you must name and own your fears.  And I’m not talking about the easy stuff, here. I prefer to dig a little deeper than these.  For example, my greatest fear is unfulfilled potential.  It’s a crazy downward spiral that can be entirely debilitating.  I’m often worrying about not having left it all on the table, whatever “it” is.  Take, for example, my thought process while writing this blog.  Am I stating this all in a way that readers will gain the most value from it?  Is this the best writing I can do?  Did I mean to include something else in here that I’ve missed out on a chance to say?  Have I done everything that I can?  What else, what else, what else?  The what if’s and uncertainty play out in my mind endlessly.  It’s exhausting, frankly.

Owning your fear suggests being able to understand the roots of it.  In my case, I think it comes down to an almost inability to surrender control.  If I am in control of the situation, then theoretically I know that everything that’s occurred has gone in such a way that the potential of that situation was maximized and the outcome is the best possible outcome that could have happened.  Nothing was left on the table.  No one is walking away with a sense of “I wish I had done this differently.”  Obviously, there isn’t much in life that actually goes this way.  We all end the day wondering if changing one little thing here or there could have led to something different, something better.  If you’re like me, you’re almost always wondering if you could have done more.  

Second, you must understand what parts of your fear you actually have control over.  This includes understanding how fear is limiting to you.  Look back at my internal commentary on writing this blog.  “Am I stating this all in a way that readers will gain the most value from it?”  I cannot control what others take away from what I write.  I can only write to the best of my ability.  Given that my fear is actually rooted in control, this is especially important for me.  But what if your fear is less within your control?  Do you avoid the situation?  Never go into a crowded room?  Never step outside so you won’t risk coming into contact with snakes or spiders?  Never get on a plane?  Or do you focus instead on controlling your reactions to these fears?  Living a life controlled by fear isn’t much of a life.  Confucius said it best:  “We all have two lives.  The second one begins when you realize you only have ONE.”  There will be situations in life that are totally outside of your control  In those moments, it’s essential that you focus your efforts not on avoiding the fear, but controlling your response to it.  Pastor Steven Furtick describes the power of fear in our lives this way in his book Crash the Chatterbox: “…fear often finds its power, not in our actual situation, but in what we tell ourselves about our situation.”  If we can live in the truth that we can’t control the situation, but we can control ourselves, our fears become much less… scary.

And that takes us to step three: challenge your fear.  Take the what-if’s and face them head on.  What would you be missing out on if you didn’t do that thing, or talk to that person?  What if you didn’t face that fear?  Most importantly, understand that if the worst happens, God will always be there as your solid rock from which rock bottom can be built.  The phrase “do not be afraid” (or a variation of it) is one of the most quoted statements in the Bible.  See Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Instead of assuming the worst could happen, question what could happen if it all went right.  After all: if the worst can happen, then so can the best.

No matter what your list of fears includes, what each of them have in common is their ability to limit you in your daily life.  If you spend your entire life avoiding your fears, you’ll limit your experiences.  More importantly, you’ll limit your impact.  As a leader, and as a LION, we are called to face our fears in such a way that we exhibit a lifestyle others wish to mimic and learn from.  There is a key take away here:

Great leaders are not fearless.  Instead, great leaders refuse to let their fears lead them.

I challenge you today: name and own your fear.  Take control of it.  Face it, and challenge yourself with it.  After all, perhaps you were born for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).


Sam Schleich currently works at a steel mill in eastern Iowa as the Environmental Coordinator. She is studying to be a personal trainer under the NSCA-CPT certification. She was part of the inaugural Alpha Female class under Evan Childs, and there she discovered her passion for leadership in the fitness community. When she isn't working or at the gym, she's most likely planning her next big adventure (usually in the form of Tough Mudders, Spartan races, concert-going, and traveling), exploring the great outdoors, spending time with her fur babies (Kolby and Fawkes), or spreading her love for Dande and the Lion.