Fearless

Think Tank

The Fearless Factor

What's the Big Idea?

The New York Times deputy national editor Adam Bryant could be described as the "CEO whisperer." Bryant conducts regular interviews with CEOs and other leaders for his weekly Sunday Business feature called Corner Office. Among the many lessons Bryant has gleaned from top executives such as Gordon Bethune, Howard Shultz and Eduardo Castro-Wright is  they tend to get misty-eyed when they speak about certain employees who exhibit a quality Bryant calls "fearlessness."

Who are the fearless? They are rebels who refuse to accept the status quo when things are merely "fine." They advocate turning the system upside down and even breaking it in order to make it better. The fearless are also those who have made non-traditional and often risky career choices. According to Bryant, CEOs appreciate people who value experience and want to broaden their base of skills instead of simply climbing the ladder.

What's the Significance?

As Bryant notes, there is quite a difference between taking a "good risk" and a "crazy career suicide risk," and yet he advocates fearlessness as a virtue that will help people make decisions both great and small, impacting both their careers and daily lives. As one CEO told Bryant, "every single day I try and do something that’s out of my comfort zone
and I think that’s just a good rule for living."

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