1. Section Editor(s): Raso, Rosanne DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, FAONL, Editor-in-Chief

Article Content

On my mat in a sweaty hot yoga class, my instructor encouraged us to try new poses with a less fearful attitude, embracing failure or lack of perfection. "Fear less" was the mantra, not "fearless." Of course, the connection to leadership practice was obvious; at least it was to me. Let's fear less, act more, and learn from outcomes however they land.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

We're not talking about absolute fearlessness, although there are plenty of articles in the management literature espousing the concept of "fearless leadership." Some fear is okay and needed to avoid recklessness. You wouldn't want to make career-limiting decisions, not have a thoughtful plan, or overlook a significant stakeholder. You do have to think about possible effects, especially those that are quite certain and damaging. Sometimes it's the unintended consequences that we didn't consider ahead of time that may require handling.


However, potential, manageable consequences shouldn't paralyze you, including failure. The degree of manageability may differ depending on your organization, as well as your reputation and leadership competency. When you're acting on your values with confidence, having less fear and more courage is a good thing. Go for it.


This reminds me of Joe Tye's well-known line from his book, The Florence Prescription: "Proceed until apprehended." It's a derivative of one of Florence Nightingale's best quotes: "Never give nor take an excuse." The everyday courage to do the right thing, and allow it, is leadership in action, building accountability and outcomes. Fearing less allows you to proceed.


Maybe this looks like doing something out of the norm for an individual patient or family or speaking up about an issue you want to help change in the practice environment. The same principle applies to more complex matters like trying out a new care delivery team model or redesigning licensed/unlicensed clinical roles. Making excuses for inaction isn't leadership.


There's a huge component of psychological safety here. The benefits of practicing in an organizational culture that's psychologically safe extend beyond clinical aspects and include fearing less in your leadership practice. Embedding risk-taking and even risk of failure into the work culture allows for innovation, inquiry, and growth.


Gaining knowledge from failure is part of this effort. You can fear less and plow on, but you must also admit mistakes and learn. That self-reflection, whether your plan goes well or not, is priceless. It's part of being an authentic leader too.


Encouraging others to fear less is also part of our leadership role as mentors and coaches. You can talk through fears, celebrate bravery, encourage voice, and be open to try new things: all set the stage for courageous practice. Explaining that being less fearful doesn't mean being loud or arrogant is important too. Let's not confuse being bold with being overconfident either.


Nelson Mandela once said, "may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." That sums up fearing less and acting more, aligned with your values.


Let's end where we started: on a yoga mat, letting go of fear, being bold, and trying something new. Now take it off the mat to your everyday leadership practice.


[email protected]

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.