According to most of the political talking heads, Donald Trump should be long gone from the Presidential race. Yet he is growing in popularity. Elon Musk, according to all of the business pundits n 2008, should have been bankrupt. Yet he survived and is now being hailed as the new Steve Jobs. Winston Churchill’s beloved country, who was on the verge of annihilation during the blitzkrieg, refused to surrender and outlasted the onslaught, paving the way for Germany’s defeat. What secret weapon do these individuals possess that enable them to survive in the face of overwhelming adversity? Fearlessness.
Sixty three percent of the millionaires in my Rich Habits study said they were not afraid to take risks. Some 177 self-made millionaires pursued success with a fearlessness that turned adversity into opportunity, enemies into supporters and competitors into partners. Leaders are not afraid to take risks that others shrink from. They are not afraid to step on the toes of those who stand in their way. They are disrupters who shake up industries. They are fearless, almost to the point or being reckless, in order to realize their dreams and goals.
Trump oozes this leadership habit in everything he does. Now he’s set his sights on the Presidency and the staid political establishment is being disrupted by the The Donald. Where other candidates tread carefully, using words that offend no one, Trump’s words rile just about everyone in politics and in the media. He displays this fearlessness every time he opens his mouth. He makes controversial statements that the media and the political establishment are repulsed by. The attacks on him are relentless. Most ordinary Presidential candidates would recoil against the onslaught of the media’s unrestrained barrage of criticism, but Trump’s reaction is to attack back with a fearlessness that forces his critics to go on the defensive. In an environment where political correctness is forced down everyone’s throats, Trump is seen as a lone warrior, fearlessly defending every American’s right to free speech. He simply has no fear of the media or the political establishment. He spits in the face of political correctness. And the average Joe, irrespective of his or her political leanings, admires his fearlessness. Americans aren’t falling in love with Donald Trump, they’re falling in love of his fearlessness. Each time Trump is attacked, and returns fire, he trumpets this fearlessness and his popularity grows.
We see this same leadership trait in Elon Musk. At the end of 2008, Musk and all of his companies were on the verge of outright bankruptcy. His Falcon 1 rocket had failed to reach orbit for the third time in early August, 2008. He was running out of money. He had gone through most of his $223 million plus he had gone through most of the hundreds of millions venture capitalists and the government had invested in SpaceX and Tesla. Most would have thrown in the towel as a result of the relentless stress Musk was under. But he didn’t quit. He fearlessly kept fighting. Everything hinged on a fourth flight in September, 28 2008. If it too failed, it was over. Only it didn’t fail. The first privately built rocket made orbit. Musk was able to cobble together enough money to get them through the end of December, 2008. On December 28, 2008 NASA awarded SpaceX with a $1.6 billion contract. The rest, as they say is history. Today, Musk is estimated to be worth $10 billion. His companies are changing the world. Miracles often happen when fearless leaders meet overwhelming adversity. Life rewards individuals who simply do not quit and who fearlessly stare adversity in the eyes. Life rewarded Musk and many are now calling him the reincarnation of Steve Jobs.
Winston Churchill is considered one of the greatest leaders in history. His secret, like Trump’s and Musk’s, was his fearlessness. In the face of overwhelming adversity, Churchill never wavered. Even as England was on the precipice of annihilation during the darkest days of the German blitzkrieg, his fearlessness was like a virus that infected every one of his fellow countrymen. It was this unrelenting fearlessness that ultimately caused Germany to alter their military strategy to instead attack the Soviet Union. If it were not for Churchill’s leadership, there is no doubt England would have been defeated and eventually occupied by Germany. Europe might be a very different place than it is today if it were not for Churchill’s fearless leadership.
People admire fearless leaders. They are drawn to their fearlessness like bugs to a light. Truly great leaders are all fearless in the face of adversity. They don’t cave in to pressure. As a result, they give the appearance of invincibility. People admire anyone who is not afraid to fight back. They fall in love with them. Fearless leaders change outcomes. They disrupt the status quo. They transform society. Trump, Musk and Churchill are viewed by many as Davids fighting the Goliaths of the world. And everyone loves an underdog who fears no one.