Fear can be limiting, debilitating, and it can rob us of the freedom to pursue, enjoy, and succeed. Today's writers and philosophers speak of our current culture of fear; the ways media and news cultivates our fear; and the events that demonstrate how the fearless often rain havoc and destruction upon the innocent. We are exposed everyday to staggering amounts of information that would cause the prudent to be fearful.
When I asked my readers to share their keyword for 2015, a majority said 'Fearless'. (Read the post showing all the new year keywords of readers here.) In choosing 'Fearless' as this month's focus keyword, I promised to support your efforts in finding a path to fearlessness in your life. The first two posts (here and here) touched on the subject of being fearless. Today, I give you three marvelous reads on the subject (with a huge thanks to someone I greatly admire, Maria Popova).
1. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
Over the course of 30 years, Catmull has rooted out and removed the barriers to creativity while leading Pixar to soaring success. Wallace is a hugely successful journalist who is currently the editor-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. Both address the issue of a sustainable creative culture, building and growing a business culture that uncouples fear and failure. While many consider it a book for managers, business, and particularly creative businesses, the value of the book breaks through those boundaries and speaks to all of us in pursuit of sensitive and responsible fearless action. (Read a longer synopsis on Popova's website, here.)
2. The Will To Power, by Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche is best known for being the German philosopher who espoused nihilism, although he referred to it with various other terms and phrases. Karen Carr describes Nietzsche's view as being more than a condition of meaninglessness, but rather, "a condition of tension, as a disproportion between what we want to value (or need) and how the world appears to operate". The Will To Power is a collection of his unpublished works, and for some, it seems to verge on the mystic. The book is filled with thought-provoking concepts, but most important to the discussion of being fearless is this: his assurance that life’s greatest rewards spring from our brushes with adversity. His is not a philosophy of defeatism, but rather a conviction that hardship is the springboard for happiness and fulfillment. (Read a longer synopsis with companion parts on Popova's website, here.)
3. Freedom From Fear, by Aung San Suu Kyi
Let's start with the author, who is a Burmese woman, and who is regarded with the same reverence as Nelson Mandela. She is an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression, and like Mandela, spent most of the last two decades in detention for her beliefs. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the committee chairman declared her "an outstanding example of the power of the powerless". In this book, we are gifted with a collection of Aung San Suu Kyi's writings: speeches, letters, and interviews. Take a look at her words below, about fearlessness:
"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it...
Fearlessness may be a gift, but perhaps most precious is the courage acquired through endeavor, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as ‘grace under pressure’ — grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure."
While I'm not revealing to you my favorite of these three books, I will say that each of them has had powerful impact on my approach to life, my life's work, and my creative soul. In the last decade, I've found each of them to be useful and helpful in overcoming oppression, wicked people, bullies, haters, and sadists. Quite honestly, the brilliance of the selections is their ethical and moral assurance that you can mine your own fearlessness, and succeed in your own quest to overcome your hurdles to becoming fearless.
Let me know if you have other recommendations for feeding our minds and hearts with elegant intelligence! And always, be particular - and fearless.