The Destructive Peril of Being Too Meek

Robert Terson

I once met a Twitter follower for breakfast, a terrific young man who drove all the way up from the northwest side of Chicago to spend some time with me. Tim’s 46, single, has a marketing background and, outside of some freelance work, has been unemployed for a few years now. He’s definitely an introvert, a laid back kind of guy—doesn’t like to make waves, get caught up in controversy; even his handshake was weak.

As I do with so many people who seek my help, advice, I asked Tim what he would do if he knew he couldn’t fail, if success was a given, a forgone conclusion, guaranteed. Alas, he couldn’t come up with a definitive answer; in fact, all his answers to my many questions were vague. “I’m really not sure,” he kept saying.

This is a man who is pussyfooting through life, unsure of himself, afraid to go out after what he wants—can’t even say what he wants—afraid to offend anyone. Speaking metaphorically, he needs to crack a few eggs and stir up the omelet of his choosing, but his lack of confidence in himself, his paralyzing fear of entering the arena, keeps holding him back, keeps him from taking action.

I recommended he pick up a copy of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, told him he needed to read it a number of times, follow through on every direction the late Mr. Hill suggests. I told him if he did that, it would change his life.  Tim promised he would go right over to Barnes and Noble and buy a copy.

When we parted I told him life would give him whatever he demanded of it; that, as I’ve said so often on this site, success was a decision he needed to make; that determination and persistence was far more important than education or talent; that he needed to approach people from a point of equality, not subservience (see the feature article “The Importance of Equality”); that people, especially employers, respect strength, abhor weakness.

Tim took a few deep breaths, nodded, said he was going to do everything I suggested. Was I convinced of that? Not really; I sensed my unambiguous, forceful approach caused Tim to make himself uncomfortable (it was his reaction, folks, so he can take responsibility for it).

What about you? Are you pussyfooting through life, too? Are you in a rowboat aiming for the Irish coast, without a rudder and compass? Are you afraid of people, afraid to ask for what you want? When people are direct and forceful with you, do you become uncomfortable? Do you approach others from a point of fear and subservience, instead of courage and equality? If so, don’t you think it’s time to do something about it?

Do you own a copy of Think and Grow Rich? No? Then go out and get a copy, read it, study it! Change your life! You can do it, I promise you!


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