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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner


Psychologist Randall B. Hamrock observed, “In twenty years [of practice as a psychologist], I’ve talked with, tested, and given vocational counsel to at least 10,000 young men and women. One characteristic that almost all had was the tendency to sell themselves short.” Fear robs us of our potential. It makes us smaller than we really are. One of the greatest mistakes we can make in life is to be in constant fear that we will make one.

When we give in to fear, we are already beaten. People who are ruled by fear stay where it’s safe. And that’s sad because people can’t reach their potential by staying where it’s safe. Worse yet, they keep others from reaching their potential too. When a leader is ruled by fear, he becomes a lid to the people who follow him. Many people fail to reach their potential because their leaders are fearful.

A story from U.S. history illustrates this well. During the American Revolution, the Bahamas were captured by Spain. In April of 1783, Andrew Deveaux, a lieutenant colonel of South Carolina, recruited a handful of militiamen and Harbour Island settlers and planned to take Nassau using a clever strategy.

Deveaux had only two hundred men with him, a far smaller force than that of the Spanish, but he managed to capture the high ground on the island after a brief skirmish. The Spaniards then watched as boats repeatedly ferried load after load of men from Deveaux’s ships to his defensive position on shore. What the Spaniards didn’t know was that the same men kept going back and forth, standing on their trip over to the island and hiding themselves by lying down in the boat on the trip back to the ships. The leader of the Spanish troops, fearing a defeat at the hands of a large force in a defensible position, surrendered.

Playwright William Shakespeare wrote, “Our doubts are traitors, and they make us lose what we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” That was certainly true in this incident from history.

John C. Maxwell, The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset (Nashville, TN: HarperCollins Leadership, 2006).

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