Literature and practice on learning in organizations often seem to ignore the expression of fear. This article explores the role of representations of fear in collective learning. Three expressions offers are analysed: by Pat, an individual whose workplace trials parallel those of the authors; by Ricardo Semler, Brazilian business executive, whose business autobiography, Maverick! some see as a manual for learning in organizations; and by W. Frank Blount, CEO of Australia's largest telecommunications firm, Telstra. These analyses bring to the fore issues of shame (Schneider), needs for mutual self-disclosure (Goffman) and conditions that cause us to `sanitize' representations of fear in ways that inhibit reflective practice and, hence, limit occurrence of episodes of deep, collective learning, that are termed here the `learning space'.