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Take Control And Conquer Your Fears

This article was based on episode 78 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Get the mini-guide here or the full guide when you become a member at Purchase a single full guide at

Fear goes by a lot of names and wears many masks. It is sometimes called anxiety, depression, feeling stuck or overwhelmed. But at the core, it’s all the same. We hold ourselves back because we’re afraid. I know I do.

I spoke with Ruth Soukup about research she’s done on fear, how it gets in our way and how to overcome it. Ruth is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author. Through years of research she has identified seven fear archetypes and developed an assessment to help you identify your specific fear drivers.

From more than 4,000 research participants, Ruth’s team generated critical insights. She notes that fear does not look the same for each of us, making it confusing to understand and hard to detect. But, identifying a specific fear and its patterns moves it from the subconscious to awareness, creating the possibility for control and change. In other words, when you know what to look for, you can address the root of fear and move yourself and others forward.


Although fear responses are individualized, there are seven distinct patterns that illustrate how fear plays out in our lives.

  1. Procrastinator: Procrastinators (or perfectionist) fear making mistakes. The need for perfection creates paralyzing delays, often in the form of excessive research, organizing and planning. Procrastinators frequently struggle with making decisions and taking action.

  2. Rule Follower: Rule Followers have an unhealthy fear of authority, often expressed as a close adherence to the ‘right ways’ and ‘wrong ways’. This dedication to following rules set by others can keep them from taking risks and trying new things.

  3. People Pleaser: People Pleasers fear being judged by others. They are acutely aware of what others think of them, and worry about how they will be viewed should they make a mistake. People Pleasers regularly have difficulty setting boundaries, saying no or speaking up for themselves.

  4. Outcast: Outcasts appear to be fearless, but are actually hiding fears of rejection. They may reject others first in order to avoid facing any possibility of being rejected themselves. They struggle with trust issues, have trouble working on teams, and are often afraid to ask for help.

  5. Self-Doubter: Self-Doubters are plagued by deep, underlying feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. They may compensate for feeling unqualified or incapable by projecting criticism onto everyone else.

  6. Excuse Maker: Excuse Makers hold a fundamental fear of taking responsibility and possibly being blamed for any unwanted results. They are adept at rationalizing and excusing what they do, always avoiding ownership.

  7. Pessimist: Pessimists have typically experienced personal hardship, adversity or tragedy and therefore fear experiencing even more pain and trauma. Although they may have legitimate reasons to feel victimized, they become stuck in the victim stance. Even bothering to try will require them to face the belief that life isn’t fair and things will always turn out badly for them.

These archetypes are important because its only when you identify the type of fear that is negatively affecting your life that you can take action and do something about it.


While our fears clearly hold us back, they also serve us. Ruth’s research uncovered positive positive qualities for each archetype that stem from its specific source of fear. For example, Procrastinators, like myself, produce high-quality work with great attention to detail.

Outcasts tend to be highly self motivated and determined to succeed.

The key is to harness the positive qualities while mitigating the negative ones.


Ruth recommends a three step process to moving through fear:

  1. Identify your fear archetype and how the corresponding thoughts and behaviors play out in your life;

  2. Begin replacing the thoughts and behaviors that originate in fear with those derived from a new, positive set of core beliefs;

  3. Take action in the form of small steps that bring you closer to important goals. These small steps will lay the groundwork for overcoming fear.


To help you better understand your fears, take the Do It Scared assessment. As you learn about your archetype, reflect on how it shows up in your life. What are your coping behaviors?


Fear is rooted in our minds. Before you can change your behavior, you need to change your mindset and let go of limiting beliefs. Ruth calls this adopting Principles of Courage which help you reframe your perceptions.


In the end, action is the antidote to fear. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Ruth says practicing in small ways when little is at stake will build up the courage muscle. Small consistent actions make it easier to take bigger actions when it feels as if more is at stake.


One of the frustrating things about fear is how it manifests differently in each person. As a manager, this means behaviors that you find easy may in fact be terrifying to your colleagues. For example, as an Outcast, you may be very comfortable sharing a contradictory perspective while a People Pleaser struggles with speaking up.

The more information you have about the fears of your team members, the better you are able to support and encourage them to overcome their fears and do their best work. When everyone on the team has a shared framework for fear, it opens the door to meaningful conversation. Just as importantly, it offers opportunities to understand the origins of otherwise misunderstood behavior. This often decreases frustration and increases empathy among team members.

As Ruth says, “Here’s to facing your fears, overcoming adversity, and creating a life you love.”


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Get a guide to selecting an accountability partner based on your fear archetype when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at

This article was based on episode 78 The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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