Brendan P. Keegan
Hi – I am the B behind b FEARLESS. And when exactly did I become Fearless and become a Leader? Well, I know the moment I became fearless, the first time I overcame my own fear to lead; and I also know I have worked diligently to build a system to overpower my own fear, uncertainty and doubt when it makes an attempt to block me from achieving my life’s work.
The moment I overcame fear, was the moment I was born at St. Joseph’s hospital on July 30, 1969. I was born two months early, weighing in at under two pounds and fighting to stay alive. I was baptized, confirmed and given my last rights that day. I had doctors massaging my heart to keep me alive, nurses on duty 24-7 and was administered seven units of a rare blood type transfused into my donors who were strangers up and down the East Coast. I made it, but with all these complications, my parents were counseled to manage expectations of the “miracle baby” having a healthy, normal and productive life. Essentially, don’t expect your son to be a normal boy. Mom and Dad hadn’t listened to the fear, uncertainty and doubt they were presented with when their first child, my sister Beth, was born with Downs Syndrome nine years earlier. They raised Beth to have an incredibly normal, healthy and productive life for 59 glorious years. So, I guess you could say that my parents lived Fearlessly, and I learned my best lessons from them. To stay alive from the first day through today, I only had one choice, and that was to live Fearlessly.
The moment I chose to be a leader was the first day of football practice in rural New Hampshire when I was in third grade. Coach Buchanan circled up all the eight-year-old players and asked for someone to get in the middle and lead jumping jacks. I’m not sure what possessed me, but something moved me to jump in the middle of the circle at Artillery Field and start counting. I was smitten with leadership every day since.
Throughout my life, I’ve pursued every leadership opportunity I could as I truly believed Fearless Leadership was the gift God had bestowed on me. I must admit though, there were many days growing up I wished God had made me smarter, more athletic and even better looking. Why? Well, I had to work really hard to get good grades in school, I had to work out a little longer to be competitive on the athletic field and I had to use my sense of humor to win girls over. I was the prototypical grinder!
But leading Fearlessly came natural to me. It really did. That doesn’t mean I didn’t work at my leadership. Yes, just as someone may be a whiz at math, while others were exceptional at sports, I found the path I was best at which was leadership. I captained every team I was given the chance to, even when I wasn’t the best on the team. I ran for class president all through high school and college, and I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to lead companies as President and CEO six-times across many different industries from technology to finance to automotive.
I can humbly tell you for many of these roles, I was not the best candidate, not the smartest and not the most experienced. But I believe I showed the team that had to make the decision a passion for leadership, a sense of purpose, a goal orientation and a system that others could be empowered by, which allowed for them to take a chance on me without any fear, uncertainty or doubt. And to be clear, often times they were taking chances.
What is a little ironic, is that four of the six opportunities I have taken, were as a turnaround CEO, charted with ushering a troubled company from the brink of bankruptcy and failure, to become a healthy, stabile and growing organization. Reflecting back, my career has really been focused on going into fearful situations and removing the organizations fear of failure, the team’s uncertainty of success and the fundamental doubts of the individual employees. As I stated above, I truly believe Fearless Leadership is my path.
I am grateful every day for the opportunity to lead, to make an impact on others, to bring good into the world and to help make others into whatever they choose to be. My vision and purpose are really simple, in fact I imprinted it on the second page of this book – ONE MILLION FEARLESS LEADERS – that is what I am trying everyday fearlessly to achieve, and that has been the fuel behind this book. So, thanks for taking the time to read it, as I am hopeful the concepts, the system, and the motivation will serve as your fuel.