Fear is a profoundly ambivalent emotion. Paralyzing or uncontrollable, it can prevent us from accomplishing our goals, even corner us into the worst extremes of insecurity. But when channeled and sublimated, it can push us beyond our limits and allow us to reach new heights.

At the two ends of the spectrum of fear, we find, on one side, the frightened citizen who for the sake of survival relinquishes all individual liberties to a Leviathan tyrant (itself even more frightening!). On the opposite side, we have the uncertain artist who nevertheless prepares to step on stage or start a masterpiece, without ever knowing whether he’ll succeed at completing and sharing his vision. And we also have the indecisive coward, unwilling to take chances and unable to finish a project — contrasting with the daredevil risk-taker who discovers that in the fear of not succeeding, lies the desire to try nonetheless.

In our accelerated and increasingly interconnected world, these opposing figures of fear evolve, but they persist in their duality. The digital revolution has in this way made fear much more contagious. All the rumors and “fake news” spread at the speed of a click, and supply sources with a double fear: the traditional fear of the Other, but also the new fear of missing a trending topic — the famous “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) that cripples us. But this same digital revolution also provides us with new ways to ward off fear and to form open and constructive communities: Communication and technology, when they are used well, are particularly effective instruments against the fear of taking action. We can witness it daily in the revolutions and grassroots rallies organized via social networks, which manage to subdue the fear that authoritarian regimes want to impose.

The seventh Napoléons Summit is dedicated to taking the time to examine fear in all its forms, to better understand it and to learn how to conquer it. For, be it in our professional, personal or civic activities, fear can and must play a more constructive role than that which we typically assign it. How can we turn fear, generally seen as an obstacle, into a resource? How can we transform our fears into motivation for positive action? These are the kinds of questions that our speakers will focus on during the summit, to allow you to leave Val d’Isère with renewed inspiration. They’re not going to tell you “Don’t be afraid,” but rather, “Be less afraid”: Fear less. And ultimately, learn to fear better.

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