I recently had the awesome opportunity to interview some of my favorite peoples that ever existed in my time. People ruling in my corner of the Interwebs and making big things happen around the world. (Oh yeah, did I tell you I soft launched a new web show?)
I nearly shit in my pants episode after episode because I’m blown away by every guest I’ve gotten to talk to. Each one is vastly different. Yet, intriguingly enough, every story has the same common thread.
You Never Stop Feeling Fear or Doubt.
I digress for a minute.
Today, during the very first session of a weekly group coaching I facilitated (oh yeah, I also launched a beta group for weekly coaching), I told my sparks I don’t like the word “fearless.” Not because it’s a bad word. Not that I am suggesting we don’t use it. I think we tend to overuse that word and fluff it up to be taken literally as “I have no fear. At all. Zero. Zilch. I’m done being afraid.”
I’m here to call us all out on that false perception that you’ll ever stop being afraid. Because the stark reality is we are human. We NEED fear. As a gauging system, so you don’t get in the car with a stranger. As a fueling station, so you can use the burst of energy to light a fire under your ass. As a BS Meter, so you can keep yourself grounded by knowing your why: “is what I’m saying or doing constructive or destructive?”
What if I told you that out of the 11 episodes I’ve done so far, every single person I’ve had the complete privilege and honor of talking to has played the same tapes I’ve played in my head (and I’m sure the same tapes you’ve played in yours). To this day. Even though they light up my corner of the world as some of the bravest superheroes I’ve ever come to know in my 36 years of life. They still have fear. A lot of it.
The truth is, you never stop feeling fear or doubt. You just get better at handling it after messing up so much for so long and learning a million ways NOT to do something. My buddy, and a show guest, Srini told me, “Constraints make you creative.” He couldn’t be more right about that. (But don’t tell him I said this. It’ll go right to his head.)
Fear As Fuel
My friend Greg only had $10 and a Laptop and had to rebuild his life from scratch. What did he do? The obvious. He spent it all buying clean socks for homeless folks in Portland and made the money back tenfold within a day or so.
My other friend turned down a book deal with a major publisher. What did he do instead? The obvious. He launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his own self-published book project that got fully backed within 5 hours. Now he gets to write the book the way chooses with nearly quadruple the amount his advance would have been to write a book he would’ve hated.
Okay, not quite the “obvious” decisions. As you can tell I was being facetious.
Two years ago, I was offered an opportunity to work with a local educational institution as an independent contractor to build and lead coaching programs. There was a contingency, however. That I consider removing “shin kicking” from my marketing copy in order to be seriously considered (which by the way they sought me out specifically for the conversation). What did I do instead? Amplified SHIN KICKING even more on my website and everywhere I exist on the Interwebs.
Now I ONLY work with the people and organizations that want my shin kicking or are shin kickers themselves. I have never loved my work or my peoples more than I do right now in my life. I know a lot of fucking amazing people. People like Greg and AJ. Together we get to build and impact a lot of in the world.
Tell Yourself to Shut Up.
None of these things could have possibly happened if we weren’t struck with fear along the way. Fear told Greg to hold onto his $10 because it was a crutch. So he got rid of the crutch and learned how to get creative about ways to make money. He made back the money and then some in only a few hours. Over 700 days later, he’s helped over 502 entrepreneurs he’s never met before, started another business, and has currently visited 32 out of 50 states.
Fear told AJ that if he accepted that book deal and wrote in the voice the publisher wanted, he would be “that guy” for the rest of his life. So he turned down the deal and crushed his crowdsourcing campaign to bits. Raising over $10,000 in just 5 hours and a grand total over $38,000.
Fear told me that if I shut down the Shin Kicking Life Spark operation to accept a mediocre opportunity to have my name backed by a local university, I was no different than the corporate suit version of me I deliberately left 3 years prior. It only took a few hours to make up my mind that I was going to own SHIN KICKING and wear my badge proudly. Now I’m making major dent(age) in my corner of the universe. (As you can tell I like to make up words and such.)
Don’t be mistaken. Before we made the decision to tell our inner chatter to shut up, it was talking all kinds of trash to us like, “Who do you think you are? You’re not good enough. No one will listen to you. Who’s going to show up to hear what you have to say? Nobody cares. You can’t do this. Just go back and get a real job. You’re outta your mind.” It still plays these tapes. But the cool thing is you can choose to rewrite your story. Record new tracks.
How Do You Make Shit Happen?
Realize it’s okay to have fear. Recognize your fear. Lean into the fear. Act in spite of fear. Surround yourself with great friends who got your back. Shut up. Go do it already. Fuck up. Rinse and repeat. That’s how you make shit happen.
[Walks off stage.]
Photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov