I was terrified when I made the decision to leave my previous job to launch our resume writing and career services business on a full-time basis.

But I suspect that it was good fear because the stakes were high, we were marching into the unknown and we weren’t 100% sure if the business would be a long-term success.  Under those circumstances, it’s perfectly normal and appropriate to feel a few butterflies in the stomach and occasionally wonder if you’ve made the right decision.

It would have been bad fear if I had allowed these concerns to stop me from making a bold decision about our future.

As I reflect on these feelings, I can see a few circumstances where we can either experience good fear and take action or allow bad fear to rule our lives, severely limiting our effectiveness.

It’s OK to feel a little bit afraid before you step on stage to deliver a message.  That’s good fear.

It becomes bad fear when you don’t get up at all.

It’s OK to feel a bit nervous before a job interview.  That’s good fear.

It’s bad fear if you allow it to stop you from applying for jobs and advancing your career.

It’s OK to get nervous on your wedding day.  That’s good fear.

It’s bad fear when you don’t take the risk to commit to someone special for life.

It’s OK to hesitate before sharing your ideas and opinion in a meeting where you know that not everyone agrees with you.  That’s good fear.

It’s bad fear when you feel as though you can’t make your valid and needed contribution and say nothing.

Fear is a normal and primal emotion that everyone experiences.

We feel it sometimes when we are doing something that we’re not used to and on occasions when the stakes are high.

Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Those who seem fearless still experience fear, but they are able to redefine it as good fear and don’t let it stop them from doing what they think matters.

Don’t let it stop you either.

Good fear and bad fear, which one do you experience the most?

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