Leadership, Fear, and Other Thoughts (Part 1)

By | October 22, 2019

[October 22, 2019]  Yesterday, while I was writing my article on the Anglo-Zulu War battle at Isandlwana, I thought about fear and how it affects us in different ways (link here).  Knowing fear and how to control ourselves while under its influence, is a subject most leaders would like to avoid.  For this reason and the fact that fear is such a confusing emotion, I will do my best to untangle it.

Searching the Internet, one can find thousands of websites dedicated to unraveling the mysteries surrounding fear.  For example, I found an article in Psychology Today titled, “The (Only) 5 Fears We All Share.1  While the author did a good job overall, I think he left out some of the major elements I’ve been looking for in this primitive emotion called “fear.”

In the professional opinion of Dr. Jordan Peterson, University of Toronto, there are generally four types of fear.  It’s important to list each because this will help remove some of the confusion we have when discussing it.2

  1. Fear of our inadequacy and evil.
  2. Fear of society (because it judges us and sometimes tries to kill us).
  3. Fear of nature (because it constantly tries to kill us).
  4. Fear of the unknown.

These are listed, not because any particular fear fits into these categories easily.  I list them to educate so that when discussing the idea of fear.  Fear covers a broad range of emotions.  As an illustration, the soldiers fighting in the Battle of Isandlwana certainly felt fear of the variety of these categories; and not just in #2.

“Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.” – U.S. Army General George S. Patton

It has been said that courage is not the opposite of fear.  For those who have seen battle and its carnage, we know better.  Courage is the ability to conquer fear – to be able to function despite being frightened of our inadequacies, society, nature, or the unknown.  Fear triumphs over us all.  It is an emotion that strangles our deepest desires, needs, and beliefs.  Fear supersedes all things, and it takes tremendous personal control to overcome it.

This article is Part 1 of a 3-part series on “fear” and laid out over the next few days.  I hope you enjoy it this mini-series on professional development.  Please comment so that we can add to our understanding.


  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brainsnacks/201203/the-only-5-fears-we-all-share
  2. I recommend Professor Peterson’s YouTube video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vckndTeiLc
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Leadership, Fear, and Other Thoughts (Part 1)

  1. ZB22

    Hi Gen. Satterfield. I really like this series. I read Part 2 first (a bit out of sequence) but found both these articles to be very educational and got me to thinking more. I look forward to tomorrow’s final article.

  2. Nick Lighthouse

    Fear is an interesting topic. I’m sure we will be learning some interesting things from your blogging on it. Thanks Gen. Satterfield.

  3. Sadako Red

    It is true that even our most senior politicians fear some things. They fear, for example, me writing about them to expose their nefarious deeds. Most are unabashedly corrupt in many simple ways. Like US pres candidate Joe Biden who had his son, Hunter Biden, earn millions of dollars so that China could gain influence over what Joe Biden did as VP of the US. Sad.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Red, great to see you on General Satterfield’s leadership blog again. We’ve been looking forward to your next hard-hitting article. Thanks for the prescience comment.

    2. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Sadako Red. The use of Joe Biden and his family are a good example of the classic corruption we see in Washington DC. I also suggest here that Bill & Hillary Clinton are corrupt. Legally however they are probably okay. But ethically, both these families will undoubtedly go down in history as some of the most corrupt families of this century.

      1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

        I agree with you 100%. The Clinton-Biden family of gangster style shakedowns is unprecedented in America. Why people cannot see this, is mind boggling.

        1. Lynn Pitts

          Love is blind, like love is bling to the Kennedy Dynasty. The love of them transcends all logic. But it still happens. People love Hillary Clinton. If they only met her and experienced her narcissism first hand, then their tune would be different.

  4. Tracey Brockman

    Before you can begin overcoming fear, you have to be aware that your fears are causing havoc in your life. It’s easy to get so attached to your thoughts and feelings that you think they are all that exist, which couldn’t be further from the truth. You are not your fears.

    1. lydia

      While I think overcoming fear is a learned skill, I also believe that it takes time. If you find yourself rushing, take it easy.

  5. Max Foster

    Prof. J. Peterson is one of the best minds of the 21st century. He may be no philosopher but he certainly knows people and he knows them well. In addition, and this is most important, he is well read on ancient texts and current thinking of how men and women think and behave. We all should be listening to his lectures and read his books. They give some fabulous insights. If you want, read “Maps of Meaning”. Tough book to get thru but worth every page.

    1. Len Jakosky

      Max, spot-on comment. Dr. P is truly a savior of many young people today who are adrift. Why? He spells out many reasons but I think it’s because older folks like me have not helped them anchor in something of great importance.

      1. JT Patterson

        Correct. This is the reason we see so many rejecting religion. They see religious people as knuckle draggers. Similar to what Hillary Clinton saw when she called us all “deplorables.” This is how our intellectual and political elite see the vast majority of us.

      2. Eva Easterbrook

        I also agree. Politicians (read that as senior leaders) have abandoned their responsibilities to push us to be good individuals and support our communities. They want us to be DEPENDENT upon the government and on them.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Quotable quote from the article, “The problem is that most people cling to their fears, because it’s part of who they are.”. This is so true. We become who we are for a variety of reasons. But also we are unlikely to shed any part of us because it makes us comfortable.

      1. Jerome Smith

        I’m not so sure about that. I’ve heard this argument before but given the chance, most people would be happy to give up their fears.

    2. José Luis Rodriguez

      So very true, and so thanks Kid 1945. This is a great topic for Gen. Satterfield to be taking on. I look forward to the rest of the series.

  6. Army Captain

    Learning HOW to deal with fear and HOW to teach others to deal with it, is a major effort of all leaders. If you are in the armed forces or emergency services, you must learn to work with this primitive emotion.

  7. Crazy Dude

    Cool !! (am I dating myself using this term?) Another minit-series. Thank you … thank you!

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