Fear. It is what holds us back the most from being the best version of ourselves. Whether it's fear of failure, of what others may think of you, of losing something or someone, or just fearing the unknown, what often stops us from taking the next major step toward our personal success is fear.

Fear stops us from taking the risks necessary to move out of the place that we are currently stuck in. Fear stops us from making the move that might advance our career and our relationships. It makes us feel inadequate and prevents us from fully expressing ourselves. We watch life go by instead of taking our place behind the wheel and living our life the way we truly know it should be.

In order to fully actualize our potential, we need to develop the self-esteem and the self-confidence to overcome our fears and pursue our goals and dreams with passion and ambition. Our self-esteem and our confidence are rooted in the spiritual element of fire, the element of our will and motivation. Leadership, courage, and bravery are all connected to the element of fire, just as fire is always looking to rise to the top and has the ability to destroy obstacles in its way. It is therefore fearless by nature.

But the element of fire is also the root of pride and arrogance. As one becomes successful in life and overcomes obstacles, it is natural to start experiencing the swelling of the ego, which can lead one to believe that they are better than everyone else. Sometimes the fire can become a consuming fire, looking to destroy others who are perceived as threats. We must learn how to use the element of fire to fearlessly rise to the top but to remain modest and humble in the process.

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, describes a great leader as being “a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.” He refers to these traits as a “duality” because while modesty and humility emphasize the smallness of the self, will and fearlessness awaken the greatness that lies within. Great leaders have the ability to excel in both of these areas.

What is their secret?

The key to becoming a fearless and humble leader, one who understands their own greatness but doesn’t use it to try to tower over others, is to develop a healthy, authentic self-esteem. An essential need of every human being is to feel like they matter. This is what drives us to try to accomplish more in this world and to earn the feeling of satisfaction that comes along with those accomplishments.

Healthy self-esteem leads to being fearless and humble, and is also the basis to being a great leader.

Most people that we encounter who come across as full of themselves are typically displaying a protective fence behind some deeper sense of insecurity. The outer demonstration of self-worth is to create optics to divert people’s attention away from what might be going on inside. When a person feels healthy self-esteem, they are able to drop that guard.

One can develop a healthy self-esteem by internalizing the following three mindsets:

  1. Self-worth: I am worth something because I am a spark of God. I am worthy and have every right to live an amazing life.

  2. Self-acceptance: I completely accept myself for who I am. I understand that my strengths and weaknesses are not of my own doing but are a gift from God for me to work with, work on, and develop.

  3. Self-confidence: I have the ability to succeed in life and become great because I am created in the image of God. I can overcome any obstacles that come my way and have nothing to be afraid of.

Those who develop this healthy self-esteem will find that in addition to becoming “fearless and humble”, they will also become great leaders. Their confidence will naturally lead them to step up and take responsibility when others shy away, and their humility and approachability will lead others to be drawn to them. Like a fire that spreads its flame to whatever it is surrounded by, the fearless and humble leader causes all those in his or orbit to become ignited and to rise up.

Fearless humble leaders embody a trait called hod, loosely translated as splendor. They are recognizable by their openness to learn from others rather than put up the facade that they know everything. They show their vulnerability rather than their infallibility. They listen more and talk less. They praise more and criticize less. And they carry themselves with a sense of calm rather than always blowing their temper.

We are all presented with opportunities in our life to be leaders by taking responsibility. It is part of our life mission. If we capitalize, then we will feel the tremendous satisfaction of actualizing our potential and making our impact. If not, then we will live a life of trying to compensate with false pride and an ego that is so fragile that it can bring us crashing down with even the slightest insult. The fearless and humble leader, on the other hand, is powerful and unbreakable because his strength comes from an authentic place – inside himself.

Based on the new book Four Elements of an Empowered Life A Guidebook to Discovering Your Inner World And Unique Purpose. Click here to order.