Can You Work at Being Fearless?

Fear is at the heart of most of our worst choices. 2013-04-27 10.11.11

I read this facebook post by James Altucher and it really punched me in the stomach. But that’s just one punch in a series, because every time I question how I ended up somewhere, the real answer (underneath all the bull answers) is fear. It’s why most stupid things happen, why all bad things happen (when humans are involved), and is even worse than you think.

I’m afraid of a weird collection of things. I’m afraid of sharks (ever since seeing Jaws at a very young age – because I pestered my parents tirelessly til they succumbed). I’m afraid of being invisible (not like the superpower, but not being worthy of anyone’s attention). I’m afraid of bad things happening to my kids. I’m afraid of being seen as harmless (odd one, really). I could go on for a while, but you get the point).

Thinking about fear is helpful to you.

A Quick Accounting of Fear

  • Fear is why we market too much and upset your prospects. – fear of failure or poverty.
  • Fear is why we use big words when little ones will do. – fear of being perceived as insignificant or unimportant.
  • Fear is why we cling to praise. – fear of not measuring up.
  • Fear is why we stay. Fear is why we leave. – fear of the unknown, of the known, of not having enough.
  • Fear is why we watch so much TV or hang out online all day. – fear of having to deal with what’s in our heads.

If you found nothing in common with any of the above, either you’re in denial or you’re about to ascend into whichever heaven you voted for in the last religion elections.

Can you Work at Being Fearless?

I think it’s impossible to be fearless, though this guy might come close:

Can’t see the video? Click Here.

(If you can stand a little cursing, this version of the above is hilarious!)

For you and me, it’s less likely that we’ll claim to be fearless. More so, we probably shouldn’t. The opposite of bravery isn’t fear. The opposite of bravery is surrender (or more accurately, settling). #tweetable.

But the real power is in the knowing. When we know we’re feeling fear, we can take a moment and sit with that, and we can acknowledge the fear. And we can choose to take an action that isn’t a pure reaction to the fear alone.

For instance, though I’m afraid of sharks, I usually swim in the ocean. I accomplish this by thinking through the odds of being the one eaten during a shark attack. Though I’m afraid of being invisible, I work on opening myself up to more experiences that aren’t designed to make me visible. Etc.

The recipe is simple:

  • Realize your fear and name it.
  • Acknowledge it (to yourself, not necessarily on a blog like me or James in that amazing post).
  • Choose to take an action based on your own goals and intentions, taking into account the fear, but not acting purely upon it.


Do you work at managing your fear and seeking what matters to you? Come join over 200 of us who work on that every day, together. It’s some of the best (and most difficult) work you can do to improve your success this year.

Brave New Year

This entry was posted in Communications. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.