Fear Is Irrelevant.

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All rights reserved, olivier blanchard 2005

"Dear President Jackson,

canal system in this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation
known as “railroads” . . .

If the canal boats are
supplanted by railroads, boat builders would suffer, and towline, whip, and
harness makers would be left destitute . . .

God never
intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed."


Martin Van Buren
Governor, State of New York, 1829

There will always be a railroad coming. Chinese factories being built. Evolution will happen, in nature as in business, in science as in politics, in art as in manufacturing. Change is as inevitable as hurricanes and floods and wars and revolutions. Change is the vehicle through which cancer will be cured and people will walk on Mars and we will eventually wean ourselves from fossil fuels. Whether you like it or not, entire industries will crumble and others will sprout to take their place.

Whether you like it or not, you will either be a catalyst for change, or a victim of it.

Innovation and market disruption will either make you successful or irrelevant.

You will either change the world or watch it race right by.

This is the reality of the world, and you need to face it now.

Starbucks changed the world. Yahoo and Google changed the world. Apple changed the world. Ford. Tolkien. Picasso. American Express. HBO. Xerox. CNN. Netflix is changing the world right now. Ten years from now, some of these names will have stopped innovating. Some of these names will have settled for "safe". Some of these names will fade away.

Fear won't stop the train from coming. It won't make the barbarians turn around. It is completely irrelevant.

Fear is an illusion.

Either embrace change as an opportunity to become something great, or pack it up and go home. There is no middle ground. Not anymore.

Imagine. Create. Invent. Lead. Chart your own course. Make up new words for what you do. For what you are. For where you're headed. Make up new words now, because you'll need them later.

Fortune doesn't favor the "also in."

Don't settle for being the best. Instead, work your ass off to be the first. This isn't about beating the other guys. You can't. You won't. Those kinds of victories are short-lived and meaningless. Be unique. Become an icon. Become a legend.

But expect to fall on your face a lot. It's the price you pay for getting there, and getting there first. By first, I don't mean necessarily first to market. I mean first to success.

Remember IDEO's mantra: Fail often to succeed faster. It isn't just relevant to rapid prototyping anymore.

Come close, because I am going to tell you a little secret. Come on. Lean in a little. Lend me your ear and listen.

Ready? Okay, here it goes: Failure is a point on a learning curve. Nothing more. It's nothing to be afraid of as long as you keep those little feet moving.


The only true failure is to never have tried... or to have given up too soon.

Trust me on this one.

Related post: Seth Godin's "What Are You Afraid Of?"

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