Recently I took an online leadership quiz and one of the questions on it asked, “Are you fueled by fear or love?” And I actually had to pause to think about that.
When I was younger, I am sure that I was like most kids — fueled by fear. I didn’t misbehave for fear of getting grounded. I didn’t get bad grades for fear of getting in trouble or yelled at.
But when I really think about it, I don’t know if that is really fuel. Fuel is what keepings you moving, what keeps you propelling in a direction, what gives you energy and motivation to do things. I think the key is the word “energy”. Fuel energizes you.
So for me, I would have to say I am fueled by love, not fear.
When I think about the people or situations I fear, I don’t get energized to push back or conquer those fears. For instance, I think about people I have worked with that cause me to feel fear in some way. I find myself complying with their requests, and compliance is not fuel. I don’t feel the urge to go above and beyond what the person requests or expects in hopes that I can somehow turn that person into someone I don’t fear anymore, an ally, a friend. Instead, I do what is required of me and then I duck and cover until I’m required to do something for that person again. Doing things out of fear is not energizing; in fact, it is the complete opposite. It is exhausting and draining, always waiting for the next task that I have to complete.
But when I think about the people that I work with who I love, it’s a whole different story. And for the record, we’re not talking about any kind of romantic love here. What I mean is the people who I admire, who are role models, who I care about as people. Now those people, I will fall all over myself to do a good job for them. I will go the extra mile to get a job done. I will work especially hard to make sure everything is just perfect. I will do more than is expected, and do it happily, because I am so motivated by that love. I have a genuine desire to do something and do it well for that person. I will take things on voluntarily. I will seek out things to do. And it is all done out of love because I know that what I give in love, I get back in love.
So I have learned that I am fueled by love, not fear. Fear does nothing but make me sullen. Fear causes me to flee from the person who tries to motivate by fear. But love…love energizes me. Love inspires me. Love compels me to seek out the other person. I can see what this is important to ask on a leadership quiz. I’m guessing that leaders who try to fuel people with fear might get what they want but not with any joy from those who give it. Leaders who try to fuel with love, on the other hand, probably get what they want and more, and it is likely given with much joy.
Fueled by love sounds like the way to go!