The candidates battling it out for the leadership of Birmingham City Council are afraid of failure, not learning from their mistakes or government interference.
Asked about what scared them about becoming leader of Europe's largest local authority, the five Labour councillors talked about the perils of failing to grips with the job.
The question came towards the end of a two-hour debate at the Impact Hub in Digbeth where, for the first time in Birmingham, council leadership contenders were opened up to public scrutiny.
Labour councillors will meet in private next Monday to decide which of the five candidates - councillors Barry Henley, Mike Leddy, Penny Holbrook, Ian Ward and John Clancy - will be the next leader of the council.
They face a second hustings event on Thursday, hosted by the Birmingham Post .
Coun Holbrook was given a round of applause for admitting a little fear of failure.
"It wasn't a job I necessarily wanted and it's not about personal ambition," she said.
"What frightens me is the scale of the cuts and letting the people of Birmingham down."
John Clancy, however, found the idea of resistance from the council difficult.
"What scares me is that the existing culture is so strong it going to be difficult to turn it around," he told the event.
The council's deputy leader Ian Ward insisted he was the only one with anything approaching the direct experience for the challenge, adding: "If you're scared, you probably shouldn't be doing the job."
Former Lord Mayor Mike Leddy said that, while mistakes might be made, he would learn from them and hoped never to repeat them.
While Barry Henley outlined the fears of many that the Government was waiting in the wings to take over the struggling local authority and make an example of it.
"I'm scared of the Government's intentions towards the city, that we'll be replaced by commissioners or it will be broken up into little bits," he added.
For the most part, the hustings hosted by News in Brum saw the five Labour councillors broadly agree on most issues surrounding the scale of cuts and issues like devolution.