Leaders Use the F Word

A famous Maya Angelou quote states, “Hope and Fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”

But … Hope can also camouflage fear. And fear is one of those words we generally shy away from, except when it comes to extraordinary people.

Some of the world’s most impactful leaders such as Ed Catmull, Richard Branson, sally ride, and jack welch used the word fear instead of the word stress in their communications, from the small ones with just a few to the large scale books and stages. 

For example, Ed Catmull, co-founder and president of Pixar who wrote this book, Creativity Inc. - used the word “stress” exactly once in this book. However, He used the words fear or scared 78 times.

Powerful leaders use powerful words.

So one easy way to instill and inspire authenticity and trust is to use words that truly express what you and your team are experiencing: words like fear, scared, and anxious instead of just using the catch all word stress.


Hiding behind the stress badge of courage does no one any good, but embracing the authenticity of being afraid and doing it anyway can help motivate and inspire your team to be more than they ever thought possible.

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