Be Not Afraid



As a devout Catholic (in case you have not figured that out by now), I was attending Mass this past Sunday.  Actually, I was streaming Mass on my iPad.  One of the very few benefits of the lockdowns has been the ability to stream Sunday Mass.  Now, I get to attend Mass from the comfort of my living room couch.  Diet Coke in hand, I can fast-forward through a boring homily (never yours, Fr. Carl) or hit the mute button when the cantor’s heart is in the right place but not necessarily her voice.  Best of all, there are no looks of shame from other parishioners if I leave early.  Come to think of it, maybe we should continue streaming Mass even after the crisis subsides.

This Sunday, one of the songs was a favorite of mine – “Be Not Afraid”. 

“Be not afraid.

I go before you, always.

Come.  Follow me.

And, I will give you rest.”

It dawned on me that Jesus was likely a graduate of HBS (sorry you people who “attended a school in Boston”, it stands for Heaven Business School.  It is slightly more selective).  He also has some rather good management advice (and life advice, for that matter).  So, I, your lowly scribe (or pharisee, I can never remember which), will highlight the ways that fear needs to be managed in business and in life.

With my “apologies” for utilizing the three most obnoxious and overused phrases in the world currently – Now, more than ever…in these troubling times…and in an abundance of caution, the single best business and life advice I can share with you is – Be Not Afraid.

Creating and stoking fear is “good bad business”.  “Good,” because it does work… initially.  “Bad,” because it is unsustainable. It is the lazy person’s approach to success.

Fear is a short cut.  Why work hard to lead and inspire when you can scare someone and get them to fall in line?  That takes so many fewer calories.

Fear is short term.  Eventually, people – employees, family members, voters (are you listening, Washington and Sacramento?) – realize it is not as bad as they thought.  Then, like Penelope does all day – they ask “Why?”  They build a base of knowledge.  Some say, “perception is reality”.  That is an illusion.  Informed perception is actual reality.

Fear thrives in darkness – the absence of light…and the absence of facts.  When we know the facts, we can overcome the fear.  We’ve all been afraid of the dark…or the boogeyman in the closet…or all the terrible things that are going to happen to our kids…or the new competitor that just raised buckets of capital…or the new colleague with a degree from a “more prestigious” school.  Guess what – the sun comes up and that “evil shadow” was really your model airplane… the noise in the closet was the wind rattling the hangers… the overwhelming majority of kids do not get a razor blade in their Halloween apple… the VC backed competitor is all smoke and mirrors while you keep plugging away serving clients… and, the more prestigious school did not teach your new colleague how to complete Form 1987-098 or the nuances of Johnson account.

The real question is not “why do we fear” but, rather, “why do we use fear?”  We use fear on others because we are afraid – Afraid of being wrong… Afraid of failing… Afraid of the consequences.  We cover our own fear by making others more afraid.  World class leaders and world class people do not use fear.  They inspire.  They inform.  They invite.  They learn.  They educate.  Every now and then, as a result, they get knocked on their ass.  And, they realize it is not fatal.

Be Not Afraid does not equal Be Not Hurt.  Be Not Afraid does not equal Be Not Loss.

Be Not Afraid does equal inspiration, confidence, opportunity.  Be Not Afraid does equal freedom.

So, now – especially now – Be Not Afraid.  To your employees, colleagues, partners, friends, and family, you go before them, always.  They will follow you.  And, you will give them rest.

The most compelling reason to Be Not Afraid?  As Fr. Carl always says (when I don’t fast-forward)…

God’s Got This.

If you’d like to know where I get my inspiration, feel free to watch Mass with Fr. Carl of Holy Spirit Parish in Kimberly, WI (





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