My 8-year-old daughter and I love to read a good book together. Over Christmas we read “The Explorer“, about four children whose plane goes down over the Amazon, killing the pilot and leaving them stranded. This exchange between Con, an 11-year-old girl, and The Explorer they find living in the jungle, makes a useful frame for contemplating 2018.

Con swallowed. ‘But I am afraid,’ she whispered.

The explorer nodded, scarred and dusty and matter-of-fact. “You are right to be afraid. Be brave anyway.”

It’s the beginning of a new year – a great time to challenge ourselves and our teams to step up. And with any ambitious goals, fear will be present.

What are you afraid of? Will you let that stop you? What could you achieve if you acknowledged the fear and chose courage?

How about your team? Google released a study last year that looked at the qualities of their best teams. The top of the list was emotional safety.** This was described as no bullying, and the confidence to speak up and make mistakes.

How’s the level of emotional safety in your team? How can you develop emotional safety so people can be more brave, even when they are afraid?

Fearless leaders show courage facing difficulties, curiosity about possible ways forward, and compassion for themselves and others whilst experiencing these reactions.

As The Explorer says, you are right to be afraid. Be brave anyway.

Go fearlessly.



PS If you have kids aged 7 to 10, read this book with them. We had trouble putting it down every night – lucky it was school holidays! Equally suitable for girls and boys – the story is narrated through the eyes of Fred, the boy who is the main character. Highly recommended!

** In case you are interested, the other skills Google identified were equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. From a Washington Post article ‘The surprising thing Google learned about its employees — and what it means for today’s students’.


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