With Valentine’s Day just around the corner it made me think about why it is just one day a year. Why is it that we only open our heart to our true Valentine once a year? It reminded me of many leaders who think teambuilding is restricted to that one ‘away day’ in a year to show how much they appreciate the team and the relationships. Or perhaps, couples who only celebrate their love on birthdays or anniversaries. Surely truly loving someone is a 24/7 activity… just like leadership.

A while ago I was in a local park where I live in Chester on a beautiful sunny day with my sister’s grandchildren and as we had great fun exploring and playing and learning I heard very interesting comments from other parents in the park. “Don’t do that you will fall off and hurt yourself” and “Get down right now, that is too dangerous” and “No that is too high for you.”

Hmm, I wonder how these children will behave when they grow up? No encouragement, no choice of words to focus the children’s minds to be safe and achieve success, not a single word. Without knowing it we are being programmed for fear.

The sad thing is that fear can be one the most damaging emotions to you achieving success in business and love. The trouble is that we learn through social conditioning to hide our fears with pretend behaviour. Let me illustrate this. The fear of failure becomes an over achiever alpha type. The fear of doing something wrong becomes the over analysing, data hungry, slow decision-making person. The fear of not being liked drives the sycophantic behaviour. The need to feel valued becomes the clingy, overpowering, too helpful person.

These fears can prevent us from loving ourselves and worse still, stop us from being authentic and true to ourselves. So why does this matter in love and leadership?

Achieving success in business, whatever that is for you, is very similar to achieving results in love. I have found that to achieve success in both starts with your ability to love yourself and be yourself, to aspire to be truly authentic. Only then will you achieve success as a leader, in business and as a partner, husband, or wife. So why is this true?

Leadership and relationships are all about energy. It is the energy you are transmitting that is important. This is what we used to read to protect ourselves from danger in ancient times. You can’t control the energy being transmitted from other people but you can control yours. When you are coming from a place of self-love and being authentic you radiate positive energy. When you are hiding your fears and using pretend behaviour you are sending out warning signals to the world that you are dangerous!

In order to reduce fear and turn it to our advantage we need to look at it as fun in disguise. We need to tame and master it. Sure fear is a great way to switch on the receptors of danger, but let it take hold; it can stop you in your tracks.

Fear was once used to protect us from being eaten alive by sabre tooth tigers and the like. Yet today it can be just the product of social conditioning, fear of being rejected, feeling ugly, being embarrassed, not being perfect or failing. It comes from comments like, don’t climb that you, will fall off and hurt yourself, that’s not for the likes of us, you can’t do that. It comes from years of teachers, coaches and managers focussing on all the mistakes you make.

To be attractive to your true Valentine my challenge to you is to have the courage to be your true self. Go out there and come from a place of self-love and dare you to be YOU! You are beautiful just the way you are.

By Graham Wilson, International Speaker on Leadership, Founder of Successfactory™ and Author of Leadership Laid Bare!