Many years ago I read these words in In Search of An Identity, the autobiography of Anwar el Sadat, President of Egypt from 1970 to 1981, and since then I have been sharing his words with my audiences in my motivational speeches on leadership.
Fear is a powerful tool for destroying the soul of a person and the spirit of a creative artist. Rulers have used it for centuries and so have parents. "You better behave or the bogeyman will get you."
Ask yourself what you are afraid of? What fears control your actions? What fears are holding you back? Are you afraid of snakes? Heights? Success? Math? A blank piece of paper? Silence? A blank canvas? The neighbor's dog?
In 1972 I was traveling through the western United States and decided to visit a mentor from my childhood who was living in British Columbia, Canada at the time. Ernie was a lumberjack turned minister and missionary. He had been the camp director of a Bible camp that I had attended every summer from the age of ten until high school. He was physically a very strong man. He could grab a pole with both hands and raise his legs in the air until they were parallel with the floor much like a flag.
I spent a couple of weeks with him in the Canadian Rockies. One time he took a group of us on a two-day canoe ride on a large lake. I saw from a distance a grizzly bear fishing for salmon. On our way home we encountered fog and lost our way. After going in a circle a couple of times, Ernie stopped the canoes and asked us to bow our heads in prayer. Despite his strength, Ernie knew that he could not let fear conquer him so he turned to God, the one source of strength that he knew.
Creative leaders must learn to shake off the chains of fear. Fear can prevent us from taking risks, trying new ideas, exploring new ways of thinking. Each of us must find the courage to do what we desire to do despite our fears.