Fear, the one word that summarized the single demise of every person. Fear is the reason that our society has not progressed at an even faster rate than it should, and fear is what holds people back from their real potential.
In Seth Godin’s Tribes, the concept of fear in great leaders in heretics is never absent in these revolutionary thinkers or leaders, rather they learn to control the fear and use it to drive them. Godin writes “What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism” (Pg. 46).
Looking back on my life I can think of countless times that I have been afraid of rejection or criticism, but who hasn’t. More specifically I am going to talk about a specific time that I overcame my fear of failure and actually used the fear to fuel my success.
I remember that fear to succeed when I finally decided to go after the rank of Eagle Scout when I was 17. For those who do not know, most young adults join the Boy Scouts in the 6th grade and typically, when they apply themselves, can achieve the rank Eagle Scout by the time they are 16 or 17. So, attempting to go for the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 17, of which 2% of scouts achieve, was definitely intimidating.
So intimidating in fact that I considered just dropping the idea and coasting by instead while all of my friends succeeded in obtaining Eagle Scout right before my eyes. I wish I had read Tribes back then so that I may have had a little more inspiration and understanding of success. However, I realized that obtaining Eagle Scout was something I wanted, and I inevitably went out and overcame all fear of failure, which finally helped me realize that fear of failure and criticism is not something that should hold one back, but actually give us a healthy pressure to work harder.
“It’s about making it clear to yourself (and others) that the world is demanding that we change. And fast.”
It was the fear of not finishing what I started and being criticized, the fear that my project idea’s for my Eagle Scout project would be rejected, and fear that I would not do an outstanding job for my final project that held me back, but I realized those things were irrelevant if I did not at least dare to succeed.
With this new drive to overcome my fear I realized that I would need a team of people to help me accomplish my goal. I needed people who were not in it for glory, but because they genuinely wanted to help out a friend and the community. The right people just so happened to belong in the tribe I was already in, which was the scouts.
Without realizing it, I went from not having a position of leadership in the troupe, to being the guy everyone was following because we had a genuine goal in mind for my Eagle Scout project, which was to fix up the basement of a Bed and Breakfast for women with cancer. With my highly motivated team we eventually defied the odds in April 2013 to finish my Eagle Scout project, and in May 2013 I earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
This disaster would ruin most people’s confidence, but I had faith that my tribe would not let this be a problem. With the help of my troupe we went back to the B&B and essentially redid my previous project as well as hand made a commemorative Adirondack chair that we put out on the front lawn for guests to sit on.
My experience taught me a couple things that I later read about in Tribes. Fear should not be an inhibitor, it should be used as the fuel to feed the machine. Once you get past the fear of failure and criticism you can be an effective leader. People will follow the one who conquered fear and has genuine ideas to get behind. I have carried those lessons with me ever since.