A great quote about fear from Breaking Bad

Let me start by saying that I’ve watched more television shows than I would like to admit*, and I think Breaking Bad is the best show in television history. It’s in a league of it’s own. There have been plenty of great shows, especially in the last decade, but in my opinion all the rest pale in comparison to Breaking Bad. I’ve wanted to post something about the show for a long time, and I think I finally determined something that is relevant and worth writing about.

To put the quote into context, a little background on the show for the uninitiated. Walter White, the main character, is a brilliant high school chemistry who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has a teenage son with cerebral palsy and his wife is pregnant with a surprise baby. He has no life insurance, and realizes that when he dies he’ll leave his family in financial ruin, so he decides to put his chemistry skills to work by cooking and selling crystal meth to help build a stockpile of cash. He calculates how much money he needs to leave for his wife to be able to pay the bills and send their kids to college and take care of their son’s medical bills, and tells himself he’ll stop cooking the minute he reaches that amount. But of course that first step down a very steep, slippery moral sleep leads to Walt having to come to terms with many issues he never dreamed he’d have to deal with, and let’s just say it doesn’t turn out the way he first anticipated.

Along the way, as he “breaks bad,” he learns a lot about himself and the human psyche. In a conversation with his brother-in-law, (who is ironically) a DEA agent who has been injured and who is struggling with facing physical and emotional rehab, Walt says, “I have spent my whole life scared. Frightened of things that could happen. Might happen. Might not happen. Fifty years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at three in the morning. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine. I came to realize that fear is the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So you get up and get out into the real world and you kick that bastard as hard as you can right in the teeth!”

Granted, this is coming from a guy who has become a meth lord, but still, it’s a great observation about what often drives us to make decisions in business and in life, and it’s something I like to keep in mind. At Schedulefly, we could easily let fear cause us to take on investors or hire sales people or plow a bunch of money into marketing or add a bunch of features to our software or make customers sign contracts. But if we did those things, it would be solely because of fear and not because we wanted to do them. Fear of keeping up with the competition. Fear of losing market share. Fear of not growing fast enough. Fear of any number of things.

Now, I’m very aware we have a unique situation and a unique business, and I’m thankful for that, but part of our business being so unique is that we’ve not let fear be our driver, and we’re proud of that. I do believe fear is often the enemy, and I hope we are always brave enough at Schedulefly to kick that bastard in the teeth and do things the way we want to, not the way we fear we have to.


* I’m caught up on Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, I’ve watched about 75% of Mad Men, I’m dialed into Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead, and I’m about to start The Shield. It’s ridiculous, I know. But what can I say, I just love great film! Fortunately, every now and then some character on some show teaches me something, or reminds me of something I had forgotten, or at least that’s part of how I rationalize watching so many shows.