Potential: Revealed

Strategic Thinking, Innovative Ideas, Growth Marketing, and Revealing of Potential

Not Fearless … “I Just Proceed Nonetheless”

One subject I’ve often discussed with friends and colleagues is about making difficult decisions, the reasoning behind those decisions, and the personal characteristics involved. What are the hallmarks of making good decisions in a challenging environment or situation?

There are many factors but for this post I want to refute – with the help of a wonderful example I found today – one factor that I think is either over emphasized or perhaps not really a factor at all. That factor is: fearlessness.

The definition is “to be free from fear”. If you are faced with a difficult decision whether in a personal sphere, in business, or other arena is a lack of fear a good thing? It certainly might help you get over the hump, so to speak, and to act upon a decision you might have based on your judgment, your morality or ethics, particularly if the consequences for failure are dire enough (e.g., failed business, failed relationship, even life-or-death).
This has always troubled me though. I just seems that as humans we all have fears and given they are seemingly universal then those fears are there for some useful purpose (and we should be paying attention to them!).

SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk sent the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station

Yet I like this interview of Elon Musk, founder of Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors (and he’s only 41!). Especially the last line of this part of the interview:

“I wouldn’t say I have a lack of fear. In fact, I’d like my fear emotion to be less because it’s very distracting and fries my nervous system. I have this sort of feeling that something terrible could happen, like all of our flights could fail and Tesla could fail and SpaceX could fail, and that feeling of anxiety has not left me, even though this has been a great year. So I feel fear quite strongly; I just proceed nonetheless.

I would say that fear is part of what stokes Elon’s drive and his attention to what is important in his business decisions. Fear is a means but the end – the decision to and actually act – is all about bravery. To move ahead despite the risk, despite the fears is a concious act, not an unconcious act (as fearlessness seems to be, at least to me).

So, may you recognize your fears. Confront them and use them to inform your decisions. Then summon your bravery to act with confidence on the decisions you have made, or as Elon says “just proceed nonetheless“.

(P.S. read the rest of the interview with Elon Musk. It is quite interesting.)


  marketingagent99 wrote @

Well I’m a fair bit past 41 yrs old and Elon has left me in the dust, should I give up now? :-0

This interview is great and thanks for sharing it. I too think being fearless is more an imagined characteristic than an actual fact. To be actually fearless might be psychopathic and not very desirable. To be brave, now that’s something we can all aspire to and if we can achieve it even if some wonderful thing is not the result the act of bravery is an end itself. It is your acting in a way that can be selfless and generous which I believe we are lacking enough of these days.


  Randy wrote @

Oh to be just a “fair bit past 41” again!

Don’t give up of course … you have many challenges yet to tackle and opportunities to be brave so always be ready to go for it my friend.

  adamgrizzly wrote @

This is such a great read. I had no idea that Elon Musk had done all these things. I had recently read about his involvement with Tesla but it didn’t mention connection to SpaceX and also Paypal. wow. Before I read this if you would have asked me if he was fearless I would have probably said ‘yes’. Certainly seems fearless to start such disruptive businesses let alone three of them! But I understand from his interview you linked that it is better understood as being brave. Next time I feel like chickening out on something I’ll try to comfort myself with “Elon would fee the same way”, then try to “do like Elon” and “proceed nonetheless!”. Good post – thanks.


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