Two kinds of fear that you need to overcome

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Two kinds of fear that you need to overcome

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Change is tough.  It requires both courage and effort.  And while we all know that it’s inevitable – without change there is no growth – it can often be more frightening than the prospect of simply standing still and living with the consequences of stagnation.

Jay Allison is an award winning radio producer and writer, and the following is from his celebrated “Benediction” at the 2011 Public Radio Programming Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.  While his business – and his audience for this talk – is radio production… he hits directly at what we must all do to overcome both kinds of fear.

“First, the bad kind. We’re scared to change. We’re scared of our audience. We’re scared of people not liking us, or criticizing us, saying we’re liberal, or saying that we’re corporate tools, that we’re too safe, or too edgy. We’re afraid of “alienating the core.” So we allow self-censorship and create mealy, middle-of-the-road, vanilla work.

There’s the fear of getting yelled at. Editors sometimes think this way: If I do what I did yesterday, it should be fine, because I didn’t get yelled at yesterday. That’s a cop-out and unimaginative and is exactly why people say we’re boring.

We need to overcome these fears by being brave. No short cuts.

Then there’s another kind of fear. Fear of really trying. Of saying, “I stand behind this. I’m putting myself on the line, this is mine…

…Feeling the fear of this kind of honesty and commitment can be good. It can mean we’re approaching the center, our own truth. We’re on the edge, we’re creating.

Maybe you can create an environment in your radio station where, every day, someone feels nervous like that, because they’re taking a creative chance. Maybe you can produce something or put something on the air that gives you the nervousness of pride — that makes you want to grab people and say, “Listen to this. Isn’t this amazing?”

I heard an NPR interview by Audie Cornish, talking to the makers of the new movie 50/50, where one of the main characters works in public radio, and the writers/producers said, “Well, we wanted him to have a job where he was creative but not too creative.” Doesn’t that sum it up?

We all dance at that edge, wanting to go the whole hog, but just worried that our audience won’t go there with us. Again, we’re afraid of alienating the core. Perhaps we imagine we’re protecting our audience by proxy. But they don’t want protection; they want our passion.”


Speakeasy is a U.S. based development group – working with executives all over the world to help them achieve success by becoming the most powerful communicators they can be. For forty years, our highly credentialed, American trained and licensed consultants have used a deep, behavioral-based methodology to help individuals and entire organizations become better at both what they say… and how they say it.