One of my favorite books of all time is "The Icarus Deception" by Seth Godin. It's a fun mix of self-help-sounding quotable bits mixed with things that it'd be nice if we had been taught at an earlier age.
Sometimes I feel like my fear of either failure or criticism will lead me to a position where I stand in the middle of the road, walk with the status quo, or be mediocre. I think I can be comfortable being brown cardboard. Useful, but nothing special. That's pretty terrifying to think about. I kind of hate it.
The fact that I hate it makes me happy, though. I know that I need to do more to stick out and be different. I need to do more to challenge the normal proceedings. I need to make that artwork that garners criticism. Boring business is ignored, boring people are ignored, boring artwork vanishes. Challenge what makes people comfortable and the status quo and you'll make the biggest difference.
Make artwork. Make business. Make speeches. And make them all so that they are worth criticism. Love it or hate it, make work that people can't ignore. Don't be afraid, it will consume you and lead you to a safe, boring life of punching the clock and longing for the weekend. Be fearless, be interesting, be notable.