with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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What are your fears doing to your career and life?

Fears can be big. They can be small. But they are always insidious, subtle creatures that sabotage our success. They eat away at your performance every single day. And while they are powerful motivators, as Yoda so eloquently put it…”fear leads to the dark side”.

Do not be sweet-talked by the power of fear. It only breeds negative attitudes and behaviours and they stop us becoming our greatest selves.

Turning Your Deepest Fears Into Your Greatest Strengths

If you want to take your outer chief to a new level you have to first take your inner chief to a new level.

So it’s time for a heart to heart. Chief to chief.

Let’s start with a common story. I had a client a little while ago and let’s say her name was Belinda. Belinda was in a middle management position and she had a big new job that was super challenging. Her biggest fear was that she would fail and would be moved sideways or back down and it’d be too much for her to handle.

So in her own words, she found herself being just a bit overly demanding, a bit too desperate for results and her demeanour lost patience and presence. She became too self-centred and it bred strained relationships. The fear led to anxiety, the anxiety led to hate (sort of) and the hate led to suffering (everyone was miserable).

The most important thing here was that she was so caught up in her day-to-day work that she wasn’t really aware these subtle little changes had happened. She unconsciously fell into the trap of a fear driving her daily behaviour and decisions. Some other paths this can take:

  • You might fear people finding out that you're struggling in your job so you become absent or your anxiety causes you to micromanage

  • You might fear people will judge you and so you become overly nice and never hold people accountable

  • You might fear being blamed for a business failure or a poor piece of work so you cover your bases, go to your boss too much for guidance and never learn to really be a great chief.

But what about our greatest fears?

There is a brilliant quote:

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate it’s that we are powerful beyond measure”Marilyn Williamson.

And this points to a recent study that found the number one fear for people in their career is that they don’t reach their potential. For some reason they’ve folded rather than bet, they’ve shrunk down rather than grown up…and when they get to the end it is their biggest regret.

I’ll be honest now and say that it was my fear too. When framed as a fear it made me too urgent, to needy to be successful. I had to flip it on its head.

The thing is moving away from things due to fear can be ok if, and only if, you change the energy by naming your goal and outcome in an aspirational and positive way. This simple step goes a long way to overcoming fears.

3 Steps for Turning Your Deepest Fears Into Your Greatest Strengths


  • Think of your fear and name it.

  • How has this limited you in the past. What impact has it had on your family, friends, work and other parts of your life?

  • How is it affecting you NOW? What are the consequences for you, your family and friends?

  • How will it impact you in the future


Rise above your fears by looking them in the eye and staring them down. Explore them at every opportunity because their opposite are often what you want the most. Read the book by Pema Chodron, The places that scare you.


There is incredible power in a fear. To flip the power from the dark side to the good side you have to define the following: what you want as an outcome? What is the positively framed thing you are moving towards?

Here are some examples to help: How can you re-frame the fear from a negative to a positive?

  1. You fear people finding out that you're struggling in your job, so drop the fear and focus on personal excellence and helping other people be the best version of themselves.

  2. You fear people will judge you and so you re-frame it as I want to be judged as courageous, bold and kind.

  3. You fear your partner leaving you so instead of becoming controlling and overly close you together define what the perfect partnership would be like.

  4. You fear being blamed for a business failure so you crush that negative view with a new one that takes full ownership of the outcomes in your area. You become self-sufficient and ‘climb without ropes’ because that is your greatest self.

The true chief is one that knows when their fears are playing havoc with their lives and decisions. The sad truth is a huge number of people out there spend their lives in fear. They never rise above them. They never shift them to the positive.

Remember this quote from Nelson Mandela:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not one who does not feel afraid, but one who conquers that fear.”

And this human knew his outcome – a united South Africa.

A Final Challenge in your quest to overcoming fears

So here is one little activity I want to you tackle this week. Name your biggest fear. Turn it into a positive and your greatest strength by defining what you really want that is the best version of yourself. And then share this episode with someone you admire and respect.

Stay epic