What We Talk About When We Talk About Fearlessness

Back Commentary Mar 1, 2016 By Allison Joy

There’s a lot of credit given to those who are fearless. And it’s a worthy attribute, but it’s important that we acknowledge exactly what we mean when we laud fearlessness.

When I look at this year’s crop of young leaders we’ve featured, one common thread that emerges is that they have pursued projects and professions that don’t necessarily offer a linear path from point A to point B. They have embraced ideas where, between concept and execution, there is a vast expanse of uncertainty — situations where the next step isn’t always clear. And in that murky area, between potential success and utter failure, lives a whole lot of fear. I spoke with them on the topic of fear and theirs ranged from the fear of not pursuing further higher education to whether or not a massive undertaking could really be achieved, fear of disappointing loved ones and mentors, fear of making the wrong decision.

Fearlessness isn’t about living without fear. It’s about facing it, arms open and head up. It’s about moving forward anyway. These young professionals have evaluated circumstances, and crowdsourced advice from both established and peer-mentors. They have researched the problems they are attempting to solve and they have forged ahead — sometimes making the road map as they went and always prepared to change course when necessary.

I started out at Comstock’s as the doer of all things digital. And as I grew into my role, I became better acquainted with the unique challenges of putting out a monthly print publication. I relied heavily on what I knew: how to tell a story. Six months ago, I took on an interim role at the editorial helm. Now, I am finally tying the shoes that I tentatively stepped into last summer. To say I am excited would be an understatement. I feel challenged, I feel well-equipped and I truly feel that I am exactly where I am meant to be. And at many times, I am utterly terrified. We can say that, right? We can say, “I’m scared, but also, I am ready.”

It’s an exciting time to be the editor in chief of a magazine covering the Capital Region. The City of Sacramento is vetting a new mayor. The Golden 1 Center is on the cusp of transforming the central city, and there will be ripple effects across our outlying counties. The creative class is rallying. There are so many development projects springing up, it’s dizzying. Every day there are new ideas morphing into new businesses. There are moments, while I’m humming through my day with relative ease, if not a bit harriedly, when that fear seizes me and I wonder, “How on earth can I keep up with all of this?”

I’m not entirely sure. I will do my absolute best though, and I can’t imagine a better time or place to be tasked with such a challenge. I know that I have the tools to navigate whatever roadblocks lay ahead. I will pursue the Comstock’s mission — to celebrate the accomplishments of our regional entrepreneurs, young and old, and to connect them to the resources they need to be successful — relentlessly.

If we consistently feel comfortable, then we’re doing something wrong. If we are truly pushing ourselves toward maximum potential, then there will undoubtedly be times when uncertainty creeps in. That’s when we have to get creative with our problem-solving; that’s also when the magic happens. Luckily, we live in a region rife with other young leaders facing similar challenges whom we can look to for inspiration, as well as more established ones with plenty of sage advice to dole out.

So cheers to all of you, working diligently to make our region the best it can be. Here’s to being fearless — and to acknowledging exactly what that means.

Check back next week for week for Laurie Lauletta-Boshart’s piece on this year’s top young professionals. Sign up for our newsletter, and we will email you when it is available online. 


Will Rodriguez (not verified)March 1, 2016 - 12:07pm

I agree whole heartedly with this article. Fear and vulnerability are part of what makes us grow strong into our leadership roles. The uncertainty is the edge and pressure that often makes us perform at our best. Formula 1 racing legend, Mario Andretti, said it best, "If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough."

JT Long (not verified)March 1, 2016 - 12:34pm

Enjoy the journey. Sacramento is full of amazing people making things happen. You are one of them.

Maureen White, EdD, SHRM-SCP (not verified)March 1, 2016 - 2:33pm

Yes to all you wrote. And. It was fun to be fearless when I worked in the Entertainment Industry in my twenties; it was just me who was surviving or thriving. With fearlessness also comes responsibility, especially if you are using other's money, serving, supervising or caring for others. We also need to be responsible to ourselves; to be "long distance runners," by taking care of our diet, sleep, exercise, and planning ahead for whatever "retirement" may look like in this century.

Visitor Carol Borden (not verified)March 1, 2016 - 4:30pm

What an inspirational commentary to describe the fearless chaos we all live everyday. Onward and upward! Congratulations, Allison.

Tamara (not verified)March 1, 2016 - 5:09pm

Hats off to our fearless leader, Allison Joy! This is my favorite pub letter. Looking forward to jumping into the deep end in 2016.