Kicking Fear’s Ass - The next #40in240 volume
Kicking Fear’s Ass, the e-book
When I was about 40 years old, I realized the path my life was taking was guided entirely by fear. Every decision I
made was based in fear. It was a miserable existence.
It took a while, but I was able to overcome some of those fears and make a course correction.
But at first, I believed I had to overcome fear entirely. To conquer it whole. But my awakening occurred when I
finally understood that fear is just a part of life. The real battle is controlling it.
My life changed in amazing ways after I learned this. And I wanted to share this realization with the world.
So I asked forty of my good friends to tell their story, or that of someone else, so that we all can know we are not
alone...That we all battle fear everyday.
I hope these forty essays help you learn to kick fear’s ass. Thanks for reading.
TODD SCHNICK, Editor @toddschnick
Essay 1. Put Yourself Out There.
Early in my career I was a sales engineer. In my first week on the job I was called on to do a demo for a software
product that I was not yet trained on. I should not have been put in this position, but there I was. After saying, “I
don’t know, i’ll find out and get back to you” for what seemed like the 57th time, the customer actually said to the
sales rep, “Why did you bring her here? She doesn’t know anything!”
I was beyond mortified. The fact that someone actually said that out loud to me haunts me to this day. I can still
hear it and feel it.
But the thing is… I didn’t die. It didn’t end my career. And with that list of 57 questions I educated myself and
became one of the top sales engineers on that product line.
It’s much easier to preserve a high opinion of yourself if you never put yourself out there and let other people judge
But if you don’t share your ideas, publish your writing, show your art, record your music… you miss the chance to
learn and evolve. Some of what you share will flop. It won’t all be brilliant, but the feedback (which will hurt, but
not kill you) will show you exactly what you need to do to be remarkable.
Don’t be afraid of being judged, seek it out.
PATTY AZZARELLO @pattyazzarello
Essay 2. Thriving On The Other Side Of Fear.
I lived with deep fear all my life. I just didn’t know it. Always I felt this ‘tone’; deep, threatening. I thought it was
part of life. I’d fret and worry about what bad thing might happen, plan for all potential outcomes. I was terrified of
being blindsided after numerous betrayals by those I trusted – in business and my personal life.
Then I started having signs of post traumatic stress. I was a caretaker for 8 years with my mom, dad and a friend
with aids. So PTSD made total sense. I started EMDR therapy.
At 50 I recovered memories of childhood abuse – make that torture. Scary, ugly stuff. I tried to convince myself it
was a mistake, my imagination. But I knew it was true.
I finally felt and faced my fear – the terror of my 5-14 year old child. Powerless, terrified, overwhelmed, alone.
I stepped up and faced my fear. Instead of letting the tone of fear run me – I stared it down until I understood
every bit of it.
Then I let go. I stopped focusing on the fear and victimhood as my defining story. I began to live and think as if I
were a powerful healed self. I stopped the process of healing my fear and became healed.
My lesson? Don’t get stuck in the process of facing fear that you don’t allow yourself to live as your healed, fearless
REBEL BROWN @rebelbrown
Essay 3. Acting On My Belief That Everyone Else In My Profession Was Doing
Things The Wrong Way.
I kicked fear’s ass by ignoring what constituted "appropriate" behavior by my professional peers. In december,
2007, I lost my job as a senior corporate lawyer. Actually, I was fired. I could have avoided this by doing what my
boss wanted, but my corporation would have lost vast sums of money over the long term by going the safe route.
But without the professional status and income of a successful lawyer, I was scared to death.
It would have been easy to re-enter the known world of legal practice, but this would mean I would have to again
conform to lawyer norms, and I was done giving “legally safe” but worthless advice. Fortunately for me, the job
market had collapsed, so I had to find something to fill up my days, and hopefully help pay the mortgage after my
severance check was exhausted.
I started writing and networking, and much to my surprise, I learned quickly that there was a ready audience for
a lawyer who starts a conversation: “How can I make you money today?” The reception to my message made it
possible to stop trying to convince "regular" lawyers, like my former boss, to see that they weren't truly serving
their clients' needs.
While there are still countless lawyers who think law matters more than business, I don’t worry about what they
think anymore because my new peers--business people--know my message is the right one.
JACKIE HUTTER @ipstrategist
Essay 4. Living With The Fear Chromosome.
Fear’s part of my DNA. Certain branches of my family lovingly embrace fears of risk, the unknown, standing out in a
crowd, and the mother them all - failure. Multi-generational fears are tough to erase, though.
The first third of my life was an indoctrination into our family’s fears. The rest has been my quest to break fear’s
grip, which ain’t easy, because fear can be beneficial.
Fear has been an incredible motivator, educationally and professionally. When you can “rationally” convince yourself
as a student or professional success could lose it all with one flub, you work your ass off to avoid mistakes. If you
can keep your head together amid this mental noise, fear becomes intertwined with triumph. So how do you keep
your head together? Three things:
● Experience – doing lots of things over time has proven situations I fear actually go very well. Things nearly
always work, and when they don’t, I’ve been able to compensate.
● Spirituality – I’ve come to realize this world’s score doesn’t count. It’s how you’re scoring in God’s eyes which
really matters. That’s taken tons of pressure off what happens today and what others think.
● Repeatability – I tear apart successes to identify what created them. Mistakes get analyzed for future fixes.
The process helps counter fear by figuring out how both familiar and unfamiliar situations will more likely be
I haven’t eliminated fear, but it’s been beaten into manageable remission.
MIKE BROWN @brianzooming
Essay 5. How Do You Respond To Fear And Uncertainty?
It's among the most important issues that you'll ever confront. It would appear that the entire trajectory of one's
existence is shaped by the answer to the question.
It’s high time that we face our fears and the uncertainty of tomorrow with a gusto like never before. Instead of
avoiding change and challenge and virtually guaranteed, public humiliation, we ought to seek these opportunities.
Because once we address our fears head-on and realize that there is a life-affirming exhilaration in charging
fearlessly toward the unknown, it becomes apparent that what’s scary isn’t so scary after all. And that’s when things
start to get fun.
Fear should be used as a barometer for what we must do. Uncertainty should be viewed as a blank canvas upon
which our tomorrows can be painted with the vivid hues of possibility. In less than a year’s time, I’ve seen my life
transformed by applying this fearless philosophy. My satisfaction and fulfillment and freedom have increased by
orders of magnitude.
I’ve gone from being a miserable corporate schmuck to a self-employed experience-seeker on a highly visible
project that is transforming my entire perspective on what marketing and publishing look like in 2011.
Fear can be a debilitating, life-sucking force. But courage is a very powerful antidote. I’m pleased to report that I’m
on the road to recovery. And now it’s your turn.
WILLIE JACKSON @williejackson
Essay 6. How I stopped Listening And Started Hearing.
I was never a role model for risk. I’d been on stage for years, yet pursued work behind the scenes. I longed to
travel, but vacationed at the same places. Sure, I’d moved across states, but only when I knew what I’d be doing
and who I’d be doing it with.
Playing it safe worked. I had a high-profile job, earned generous dollars, and spent my time among attractive, polite
people. The voices were clear: “You’re successful—don’t change.” “You have it all.”
But did I? That question popped up softly, so soft I could hardly hear it over the buzz of my blackberry. Then it got
louder, and louder—until it demanded an answer.
To get the answer, I stopped listening -- and started hearing.
I stopped listening to the voices of comfort and security, the fearful ones saying, “Change is hard;” “Don’t make
mistakes!” I even stopped listening to attempts at encouragement, like, “You’re on the fast track,” implying the
opposite would be tragic.
I started hearing a new voice. And this clear, confident, and challenging voice said simply: “The world needs you for
The voice wanted better for me than my fear would allow. When I finally heard her—really heard her—I took the
biggest risks I’d ever imagined and created the work life I have today. By leaving everything I’d ever known, I
found all there is—and that’s just me, truly me, bringing my best to the world.
DARCY EIKENBERG @RedCapeRev
7. Getting Excited About Fear.
I was bored with life and feeling "stuck." I wasn't doing anything with my life and I didn't feel like I could do
anything to change it.
I had this crazy idea to do a triathlon, but I was scared. I wasn't a runner, a swimmer, or cyclist and I was sure I'd
pull a hamstring, crash my bike and drown all at the same time if I tried it.
I signed up for my first race with no idea what I was doing. I did the swim and got kicked in the face multiple times,
I jumped on a mountain bike I borrowed from my brother and I hobbled my way around the running course. It took
me forever and I had the second worse bike time in my age group (thanks mountain bike), but I crossed that finish
line and I was hooked. I was dead tired, but I was hooked.
I ended up running two more triathlons in the next month. I started getting into other races and ran a 10k, half
marathon and signed up for a full marathon in Spring 2010.
Instead of letting fear hold me back, I now look to it as an opportunity. when I see things I’m afraid of, I get excited
about doing them because I know that oftentimes the things I’m afraid of lead to the things I enjoy the most.
JOEL RUNYON @joelrunyon
Essay 8. Fear Not The Doctor’s Ego.
Fear of immediately and forcefully challenging your “expert” doctors when you sense they’re wrong is not ok. That
kind of fear will kill you. Ovarian cancer killed my wife. It could have been stopped.
For eighteen months she knew something was wrong. She was aggressive about getting to the bottom of it. That
was her nature. She went to multiple internists, gynecologists, urologists, endocrinologists, vascular, gastrointestinal
and infectious disease physicians. She got X-rayed, pet scanned and cat scanned over and over. She got
examined again and again. And I’m not talking about the open-your-mouth-and-say-ahhhh kind of exams. I’m
talking about painful, embarrassing, poking, prodding, inserting things all over the place kind of exams.
Every time it was another version of, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” until one of the “experts” finally
agreed to do a trans-vaginal ultrasound to shut her the hell up.
I’ll spare you the horrendous details of the next three and half years of surgery and chemotherapy. Just know
that “horrendous” comes nowhere near the reality. It didn’t have to be that way. It could have been a few months
of therapy followed by decades of normal life.
While my wife had no fear of the doctors’ egos, she lacked information. Now you have information. You’re not
allowed to be afraid.
When it just doesn’t feel right, grab the physician by the throat and demand that ultra-sound! Demand a
CA-125 blood test too!
TODD YOUNGBLOOD @youngbloodtodd
Essay 9. Me And Jim C.
Jim was a lot bigger than me. He was foot taller, and he outweighed me by 100 pounds. I was dating Jim’s exgirlfriend.
When Jim showed up to my work place, he had bad intentions. He said: “Are you iannarino? I said: “Yes.” He
said: “Do you know who I am?” I said: “Yes. You’re Maureen’s ex-boyfriend, Jim.”
Jim smiled. He said: “What time do you get off work tonight?” I said: “I get off at 2:00 am.” Jim pointed his giant
finger at me and said: “I’ll be waiting in the parking lot when you get off, and I am going to kick your ass.”
I was scared. Jim was going to kick my ass, and there wasn’t a whole lot I was going to be able to do about it. So, I
slowly set down my work. I turned my back to Jim and started walking towards the door. I stopped, turned around,
I looked Jim right in the eyes, and I said: “Let’s go.”
Jim’s head turned sideways like when you talk to a dog. He said: “What?” I said: “Let’s go. I am clearly not going to
kick your ass. We might as well go and get this over with right now.” Jim wasn’t sure if I was joking. I had to turn
around a second time to see if he was coming. He wasn’t. Instead he said: “Fuck you!”
Jim and I were immediate friends.
ANTHONY IANNARINO @iannarino
Essay 10. Fear Paralyzes.
...and that paralysis keeps too many from living their dreams, pursuing their passions, attaining their goals, getting
promoted or a big raise, and in general falling short of their potential.
I take this personally as a career coach because I have made it my reason for living to help not only my clients but
everyone that I can to reach their full potential.
What’s a person to do? …
Act as if it were impossible to fail!
I did not make up this phrase. I first saw it at the bottom of an e-mail sent to me years ago from a friend that had
her e-mail configured to display random inspirational phrases. The second that I received the e-mail, I copied “Act
as if it were impossible to fail” into my own e-mail signature and began developing and testing strategies for
overcoming fear. Thirteen years later, my e-mail signature has not changed and I have tested many strategies and
incorporated the best into my career coaching philosophies.
1. Set goals
2. Develop a detailed plan
3. Be prepared
4. Get feedback
5. Communicate effectively
The strategies are simple, though like anything else, hard work is required to implement them successfully. The
key is that following the Act as if it were successful to fail strategies will give you the confidence to kick fear’s ass
once and for all and, more importantly, to reach your full potential.
JOE LAVELLE @actasifsite
Essay 11. Lessons From Failures.
If you think you are going to fail then you will. I ask four things of the people who work with me:
1. You make mistakes and get things wrong. If you don’t, you’re coasting.
2. You own your mistakes and don’t blame others. You can’t learn from someone else’s mistake.
3. You tell me openly and honestly. I don’t want to hear it from someone else.
4. You learn from it. You will learn far more from your mistakes than your successes, and it tells me more about
In the words of jason seiden, “Fail spectacularly.”
If you never fail, you’re taking life too easy, and the only shame in failing is if you don’t get off the canvass and
come back for more. Better to fail trying than to fail because you never tried at all.
The school of hard knocks serves up lots of lessons. Plunge into life without thinking of failure or else you will be a
failure, I know that with hard work, you really can accomplish anything.
Take that from someone who has failed big in the past, but has failed honestly and moved on. The best lessons I
learnt were in those failures.
BILL BOORMAN @BillBoorman
Essay 12. Motivation Through Redirection.
Fear and desire are closely related emotions. They’re often intimately connected. Consider the fact that most of our
deepest desires spring directly from our deepest fears:
● Because we fear hunger, we desire wealth.
● Because we fear loneliness, we desire acceptance.
● Because we fear pain, we desire comfort.
Deep in the heart and motivation of almost every great desire lies a fear - it is completely unavoidable. Risk-taking
individuals realize that fear is not to be diminished, dodged, or defeated. Instead, they understand that fear is to be
used, manipulated, and redirected.
Years ago, I decided to become minimalist - to intentionally live with less. In minimalism, I have found the
opportunity to pursue my greatest passions by removing the nonessential possessions that were cluttering my
home, mind, and life.
Unfortunately, many will miss the benefits of minimalism because they fear the thought of living with less. But
I have come to fear the alternative. I fear wasting my time and energy chasing empty possessions that offer no
lasting joy. I fear raising my children in a home where money is used for selfish reasons rather than generosity. And
I fear looking back on my life realizing it was wasted chasing worldly success rather than lasting significance.
If fear is keeping you from purposefully living the life you’ve always desired, try discovering your hidden fears and
intentionally redirecting them. For starters, fear the thought of wasting the only life you’ve got.
JOSHUA BECKER @joshua_becker
Essay 13. Do It Afraid.
I heard someone once say that fear should stand for false. evidence. appearing. real. That's true right? It's the
thoughts that get in our mind that stop us in our tracks. But that's what it is - false evidence. Mentally pushing
through the fear is the only way to get on the other side. I've found that the side effects of fear: nervousness,
sweating, shaking - may never go away. It's in those moments I have a decision to make. I can stay afraid and let
it paralyze me, or move forward and conquer that fear.
Over the past six months I've had to conquer several fears of mine. Each time I "pumped myself up" in hopes that
I wouldn't get afraid. And each time, I felt like giving up. But I'm pleased to say I did it! Though I was shaking,
sweating, and sick to my stomach, I moved forward.
Sometimes you just have to "Do it afraid!"
ADAM WAID @adamwaid
Fear of failing. Fear of success. Fear of going unnoticed. Fear of being noticed. Each paradoxical, debilitating,
paralyzing way of thinking constantly niggles at the back of my mind. Their fluttering tentacles threaten to wrap
around my gray matter to settle with a firm, squeezing grasp around my head and heart. It takes all the courage I
can muster (and sometimes bluster) to keep those sinister fears banked.
I’m not alone, although to look around business or social networks we discover the same charismatic people bathing
(once again) in the spotlight, it’s reasonable to feel like the outcast. The peg that doesn’t fit.
With as many faltered steps and dumb moves behind me as I do flashes of brilliance, I know each of us has a
choice, every day.
Succumb, or scratch our way up toward the soft, promising glow of possibility.
It’s there, where possibility lives, that we have a safe place to dream and create. To say, “What if…” and look left
when all of our peers are looking right.
I may fail, but I’m not a failure. Neither are you. Stop waiting for someone with a different mind, different
perspective, and different set of circumstances to validate your worth and the merit of your ideas.
Because that guy? The shining star? The only thing he’s better at is how well he hides his fear.
So face yours, call it out and stomp it down. Then start scratching.
HEATHER RAST @heatherrast
Essay 15. What Are You So Afraid Of?
First, the big one: Death.
Sorry darling, you're going to die. Those are the breaks. Sure, we could debate what happens after, but we're not
on that side of the fence yet, so save the argument. Sooner or later, kiddo, you're going to kick the bucket. Maybe
your children, or your children's children will live long enough to be uploaded into machines, or maintained ad
infinitum with some regular installment of biochemical glop (you call that living?), but for you it's curtains.
But hey, you're still here :) AND THAT'S THE POINT! Life is on this side of the fence, so live it.
Second fear: Making an ass out of yourself
Not only will you, you already have. Or, that is to say, you would have, if someone noticed. Did they? Is anyone
paying enough attention to notice if you walked around with pants around your ankles?
Don't worry about being an ass, just get noticed - chances are for every person who thinks you're goofy you'll win a
fan (might even be the same person).
Finally: Public speaking
Death, shmeath, this is terrifying, but hey if the speech bombs you can try dropping your pants. You'll be noticed ;)
Don't sweat a speech. Instead, think ahead to the scared schlub who'll someday deliver your eulogy. Make that
schlub's job easy: Kick fear's ass - then there'll be plenty to talk about.
DAVID COHEN @davidscohen
Essay 16. Learn to Master Fear from the Small Mongoose.
Fear presents itself in many guises and one of them is the apprehension of the unknown. That is what many people
face that move from one part of the country or from one country to another. I can relate, as I immigrated my family
to the US; change filled with uncertainty and the risk of potential failure.
It is interesting is that sometimes the courage to succeed comes from the most unexpected places.
One of Africa’s smallest animals clearly illustrates a great attitude. He’s small but agile and quick with an eye for
trouble and is fearless when exploring or defending his loves ones. He is calculating; a master of measuring the risk
of each encounter and adjusting his actions accordingly as he lives out his life on the Serengeti plains of East Africa,
where herbivores eat grass and plants, carnivores eat herbivores and the Mongoose, as an omnivore eats almost
anything. It’s a theater in which his day is fully spent being both predator and prey.
So that’s what you have to do when you experience times of uncertainty, whether relocating, changing careers
or moving through life’s uncertain and uncharted waters. Confront fear head on. No holding back. Evaluate the
potential pitfalls and see how things could be. Be willing to break free from your boundaries and your self-imposed
restrictions. Access the risk and then, take a decision and move forward.
The Mongoose does — I did and you can too!
STEFAN SWANEPOEL @swanepoel
Essay 17. The Journey.
I grew up with the worst of mixed messages; one day I was the golden boy and the next I was the worst, most
stupid, laziest son of a beech ever. That kind of ambiguity day-to-day...makes you fearful.
Years later I met a girl much the same. I latched on to the idea of continuing to live my life in fear because that
was what I knew; what I understood. I stayed that way for over a decade. I had no say in my life; I let fear
dictate my dreams and ambitions. And then tragedy happened and I got lucky, I woke up.
I had a friend named Brian.
Like me he lived in fear.
Like me he choose to live through fear.
One December morning his fears killed him and his lovely family.
It woke me up. I started to think about how I had been living and how I wanted to live...and I started to make
I had to change myself, I couldn’t change the world around me; that’s impossible.
NOW there are times when fear and doubt creep into my mind, but at least I have the tools to kick it in the ass.
GEOFF WEBB @SocialHRGuy
Essay 18. Befriending Fear.
After three years in the marketing business, I learned that fear is only as real as you let it become. At first, my
fear was paralyzing: the idea of being scrutinized by my peers, speaking in public or even revealing the depth of my
knowledge seemed too risky, too public.
It was ultimately an outside-the-office experience that taught me to befriend my fear. My then two-year-old son
was beginning to show signs of shyness. Just six months earlier, he was an outgoing child, but at two, he was
much more introverted and timid. I found myself coaching him, trying to inspire him to be less fearful of new
friends and new environments. I focused most on encouraging him to use what I could clearly see as his innate
and highly developed sense of intuition…something we both share. I talked with him about trusting his instincts
about people and situations. As I talked him through the process of "trusting his gut," I, in turn, developed my own
intuition more deeply. Intuition became our own brand of magic, and my son quickly learned the skill, becoming an
amazing assessor or people and situations.
For my son, that was a personal triumph; for me it had priceless professional ramifcations. I had always used
intuition to extract from clients their true creative ideas and design goals for their businesses, but now, more fully
honed, I began to trust it differently, and it is now a much more innate part of my creative process. For example,
I don’t make snap judgments about clients or their products, but I do gauge people on my gut reaction and assess
situations based on the mood of the room. I try to view every situation objectively and then quickly assess, regroup
and channel the energy needed to captivate and engage those I am speaking with.
Once I harnessed this new power, I did exactly what I had not ever wanted to do: I pushed myself into public
situations, both personal and professional. When I made the effort to engage those around me, I was, and still
am, amazed at the people I meet, the connections I make and the commonality I share with the most unexpected
people. It's paid off in new client relationships, "partnerships" with companies who can complement the work I do,
and opportunities to share our expertise with others. Today, I relish the opportunity to look my fear in the eye,
prove myself better than the sum of my fearful parts, and, in turn, inspire others to speak their mind, find their
voice and own it, both outwardly and internally.
TAJA DOCKENDORF @PulpandWire
Essay 19. It’s about YOU!
I was 21 when I got tested for the BRCA-1 mutation. I remember thinking “What if…?”
Mom came with me to the appointment. We went into a little sitting room and the doctor explained that it took one
tube of blood for the test. For the next two hours, I was given reasons to WAIT:
● People typically test between the ages of 25 and 35.
● If I tested positive, my future family plans would change.
● If I tested negative, I might feel guilty.
● Because of my family tree, I really MAY test positive.
Contrary to what my doctor thought, these were reasons for me to test immediately. I know she wanted to help
me avoid pain and sadness at a young age. The reality was my world was already turned upside down because my
mom was sick and wasn’t going to get better. I had to take control. I had to be brave. I couldn’t let fear control me.
We put so much faith into doctors about our health, but they are people too. They don’t know or understand you.
Only YOU know your body. YOU have the power over your health and life. Take advice, listen, read, ask questions –
make the best decision for YOU. I was “too” young but I didn’t feel brave. I knew that testing that day was the right
I was right and I tested negative.
Essay 20. The Fear of Networking.
The fear of networking is often that of the unknown. Facing a roomful of strangers can cause even the most
extroverted to have a moment of apprehension.
I think there’s two ways to get used the feeling of walking into an unfamiliar networking event. I call it the “cold
lake” theory. Some people prefer to go slow, starting with their toes and gradually going deeper until they’re more
in than out. Other people take a deep breath, then plunge in. That’s how I got over my fear of networking – except
that I was pushed in.
My fifth day at work in my first job out of college was at a statewide conference. Less than a week in the business
and I was going to be networking for four days with the movers and shakers in the industry. That was going to be a
very cold lake.
Fortunately, they all liked to talk more than listen. I nodded and smiled and they thought I was a great hire. My
fears were - if not gone - at least numbed out by the enormity of the experience. After that, local meetings and
events were a warm puddle in comparison.
Three months later, I was on a flight to Mexico City. I was going to supervise a booth at an international trade
show. I took a deep breath and got ready for the shock of the “cold lake” once again …
BETH BRIDGES @BethBridges
My first job out of school required extensive licensing. Months of studying. Once I obtained the licenses and spent
six weeks of classroom time in the company’s HQ, they shipped me a box of business cards.
Stephanie A. Lloyd, Financial Consultant
I nearly fainted when I opened the box and read them. “Whaaaaaat?? Me? A financial consultant?!? You’ve got to be
kidding me. I can’t hand these out!!!!”
I felt like a fraud.
I didn’t know anything about anything. I was just out of college. How could I possibly be qualified to advise people
on their retirement plans… Investments… Insurance??
Reality set in.
I thought, “You’re on straight commission and have bills to pay so you’d better figure it out fast.”
Fight or flight baby.
So I read the book, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers, Phd. And I chose to fight.
I went out and started talking to people. My target market was female business owners so I joined several
professional womens’ networking groups. I met female business owners, told them what I could help them with,
and did it.
And I quickly realized that I DID know something about something. And when I didn’t, I had people and resources
to help me.
And I was no longer afraid.
Ultimately I decided that that was not the career for me, but the exercise in overcoming the fear of not being good
enough was invaluable.
STEPHANIE A. LLOYD @stephaniealloyd
I lived in fear for years allowing it to prevent me from doing things I wanted to do. Travel is limited when you avoid
flying. Chatting with friends on their 9th floor balcony, no way. The list was long but now the fears are gone. I won,
but I never attacked my fear directly.
Fear is a demanding companion. Fear dominates thoughts, constantly requiring your attention. If you ignore it,
it screams louder until you listen to it again. But fear is also easily offended and will surrender when you stop
Fear is not weak, it is a strong opponent. Strategy, not direct attack, beats fear. No enemy can win without supplies
and ammunition. Many wars have been won by cutting off the supply line. If you want to get rid of fear, find its’
supply line and cut it off.
When the Sirens sang, Odysseus ordered his men to tie him to the mast. The ship sailed through and the Siren’s
song died away. Ask your friends to tie you to the mast and sail directly into something you fear. Your fear will get
louder and then fade away!
I found the source of my fears and cut off its’ supply line! It left without a whimper and is probably in Provence
sipping Beaujolais and chatting with somebody else’s fear about the big mistake I made in letting it go.
What was the source of my fear?
PAUL PUCKETT @PaulEPuckett
Rather than tell you about a particular moment where I overcame fear, I’d like to say something about overcoming
What is the difference? It’s huge actually. We don’t become successful by facing fear once and conquering it. People
who are successful in business, sports and life have learned to think of “overcoming” fear as a present participle
activity - it is something that is currently and continually occurring.
Kill your fear of failure and up comes the fear of success. Overcome your fear of technology and there’s a new
gadget or new social media tool you need to learn. Just like a bad day in a zombie movie, once you’ve killed one,
there are 5 more flesh eaters to take his place. Too graphic? Good. We don’t take fear and its poisonous effects
So how do we continuously overcome the paralyzing effects of fear? There’s only one antidote: action.
Thinking about overcoming fear won’t help. Planning to overcome fear is worthless. Procrastination only makes it
worse. You’ve got to look it in the eye, call it out by name and shout at the top of your lungs: “You can’t have me!
You are not going to take me down!” And do that terrifying thing anyway.
“Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.” Anonymous.
ALICIA ARENAS @aliciasanera
I was finished. Done. Spent. And I was only 35. I’d been a marketing exec my entire career and had done well but
all I had to show for it was burnout and a life I hated. And then, a gift appeared - I got laid off.
Of course back then I didn’t see it as a gift since it put me face to face with Fear. But over the next year, being
out of work and struggling to find my purpose, a spark of a passion came to me. I’d never done it before, or even
admitted it to myself let alone anyone else, but I wanted to be an actor.
But you don’t just become an actor in your 30’s, right? You don’t just chuck a whole career away? Dude, what about
your MBA? And Old Man Fear was telling me to get another six-figure job – “Don’t step outta line!” he kept yelling.
But I knew I just couldn’t stay on the same track. So amidst all that yelling, I decided to write a new chapter for my
life. And step-by-step, year-by-year, I became a successful, professional actor. I guess you could say Old Man Fear
got his arse kicked.
And after 10 years when my passions shifted and it was time to write a new chapter, I was expecting Mr. You-
Know-Who. So I looked around but lo’ and behold Old Man Fear was nowhere to be found.
MICHAEL VAN OSCH @MichaelVanOsch
If five years ago you’d told me fearlessness would be one of my favorite topics, I’d have doubled over laughing. I’d
never considered myself fearless. Then through a series of divinely inspired opportunities (to which I said “yes”)
I became one of 40 entrepreneurial women featured in Fearless Woman, Fearless Wisdom, a book by Mary Ann
Halpin. My fearlessness was awakened, and I realized I’m here to help others experience the same. Sohere are a
few fear-busting nuggets just for you:
Appreciate how fearless you already are. Every day you’re fearless; you just may not realize it. You drive
a car, walk across busy streets, use electricity, raise your kids, breathe the air. All involve some degree of
risk.Pinpoint where you’re already fearless. Congratulate yourself.
Discover your true purpose and passion. A mother lion knows her reason for being: caring for and
protecting her cubs. Don’t test her fearlessness. What do you feel and love so deeply and fiercely that doing it
courageouslywould be a no-brainer?
Exercise your fearlessness. I’m not suggesting you take wild risks. Simply do something each day that’s
uncomfortable or challenging. Speak your truth. Learn something new. Embark on a new project. Stretch.
Above all, don’t fear failure or success. The most successful, fulfilled, and admired people weren’t afraid of
these. Don’t you be either. Find what you love to do and do it with conviction and passion. Say yes. See what
PATTI DENUCCI @pattidenucci
Essay 26. Overcome Fear a Step at a Time.
In 1999, I was presented the possibility of going out on my own as a public relations consultant. Needless to say,
this caused me to have to face my fear. In this case it was the fear of the unknown and the fear of being totally on
my own. What I discovered along the way is that there were many people who could serve as mentors because they
had already taken the leap. My fear was literally conquered one day at a time and one project at a time. If I had
allowed fear to win, I would have remained working for someone else and frozen in time.
Fear keeps us from moving forward. Face it head on, take baby steps to conquer it and do it one day at a time.
You can always find someone who has conquered what you are afraid of to help. Don’t make mountains out of
mole hills. (note: I’m really good at this, so I’m speaking from experience.) Figure out a logical approach to your
challenge, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.
By jumping in feet first, I conquered fear one day and one project at a time and the one man shop has grown into
an agency with operations in two states! Just because you haven’t done it before doesn’t mean you should be
afraid. Create a plan and conquer your fear.
CAROL FLAMMER @AtlantaPR
Many people let fear stop them from advancing forward. They wouldn’t call it fear at the time, because fear
masquerades as comfort and complacency.
When professionals have approached me for advice in changing their careers and lives, they tell me they want more
and that they are hungry. However, I can show them evidence of others who want it more, who are more hungry
and who are doing something about it – not just thinking or talking about it. For those who say they want more
but seem to not get it, it is often fear of showing up, stepping up and speaking up to make positive change.
Opportunity knocks, and many people are too wrapped up in their comfy lives to venture out into something new.
That is fear saying, “why do that… leave this nice spot I’ve been in, and then fail… and for what?” Time flies by,
and when fear keeps you from doing new things, you will end up looking back with regrets. I could have continued
moving up in the company I was with for over 15 years, but I took the leap – new company, new segment of the
industry, new gig, no guarantees, unknown future.
What if I had been afraid to fly, travel, speak to groups or change jobs? My entire life would be less fulfilling,
different… not what it is today. Thank goodness I didn’t let fear keep me from moving forward; in fact, I wish I
would have done it all sooner!
What are you waiting for? Remember, if you are trapped by fear and don't step up, someone else will.
KAT COLE @KatColeATL
Fear may grab you, shake you and pin you in a corner, but here’s the truth: you’re tougher and stronger than
you know. Start by doing one thing, just one thing – make the call, research the career, speak to that person,
raise your hand, run for 30 seconds, ask one question, sign up, show up. Look at your fear and list the one thing
you could do to move past it, beyond it. Then set all your strength and a deadline to doing that one thing. Why a
deadline too? This fear got a grip on you at some point and you need to set a point in time when you’ll say, ‘No
more!’ or that fear’s going to keep you pinned in the corner forever.
You’re stronger than you know. Take one action, any action, towards a goal and you’ll be one step out of the corner
and one step closer to kicking fear’s ass and getting the life you want.
JENNY SCHMITT @cloudspark
Essay 29. Fear, like attitude, is one of the few things we get to control.
When I look back on my life, it’s glaringly obvious that nothing I originally feared ended up as bad as I had
imagined it. The “What would happen if…?” self-dialogues were, for the most part, a world of fantasy. In reality,
life is rarely the roller coaster our minds make it out to be.
Over the years, and with the help of a decent amount of life experience, I’ve learned to taper my emotions in order
to control expectations and, in large part, fear. Prepare for the worst, expect the best … knowing good and well
that your future reality is bound to fall somewhere in between.
I ask myself one question whenever faced with a difficult decision or situation that invokes fear:
Will I regret not doing this when I’m lying on my deathbed?
That’s it. The answer to this simple question almost always reveals whether or not I’m willing to face
the “unknown” thrown my way. Fear is a part of life, but it should not run your life.
I’d claim proud ownership of failure over fear any day!
MICHAEL LONG @theredrecruiter
I can't leave my house. I'm afraid to go out...to venture too far would mean that I risked losing control, or worse.
I don't want to lose control, I don't want to die. I am beguiled and held captive by the fear of this panic that comes
without warning. I am useless to the world and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Meet me at 21. While everyone that I knew was so full of life and looking ahead, I was waiting for my mind to
snap...or to die. I stayed like this for years. Mitral valve prolapse and a related panic disorder, they go hand-in-hand
I’m told, Google it if you care to.
“If it’s going to kill you, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.”
These words from my mother were the ones that I needed to hear. They sunk in, and things took a much needed
turn for the better. If this was going to kill me, then so be it.
Giving in to something I couldn’t control (the dying part) and letting my fear dictate my life had come to an end.
Even now I cannot honestly tell you that I’ve conquered fear. I learned to ACCEPT the fear though, and I CHOSE to
work right alongside it. I simply didn’t let it control my life or keep me from striving for my goals anymore. Look at
me now, right?
JAMES BALL @noteasytoforget
Essay 31. Fear, Pain, and the Shadows on the Wall.
Pain is the primary driver for everything that we do (or don’t do). It determines what we think about. What we
believe is possible. The problem with pain is that a lot of the time, it isn’t anything physical.
It’s a process that changes over time.
We stop twisting ankles, breaking bones, and getting bloody noses. Right?
We move from the playground to the battleground. From the swing-set to the headset.
Where we scar our minds instead of our knees…
It’s mental. Not muscle.
And while it looks like as a whole we are eliminating pain from our lives, nothing could be farther from the truth.
We’re just better at hiding it from others.
We’re experts at appearing like “everything is alright”. In fact, we might be able to even hide it from ourselves if it
weren’t for the shadows on the wall.
The problem with mental pain is that the scars run deep.
Betrayal. Loss. Abandonment.
The pain is gripping and intense. And it doesn’t go away for awhile.
It’s trauma in every imaginable sense of the word. So much so that we will do just about anything to avoid going
through that experience again.
But just about the time you start to heal, just about the time the sting starts to go away, you see the shadows.
On the wall you see the scary outline of past pain. And you start to relive your fears and doubts.
Your breathe comes a little faster and your heart starts to beat a little quicker. All of your senses tell you that you
are about to get hurt.
And that fear drives you to run.
To stop being a high performer.
But there might be more to the situation if you look past the shadows. Maybe the shadows don’t tell the right story.
Maybe what you think is past fear and failure is really just a mechanical pencil wedged between a pizza box and the
edge of the couch.
Maybe it’s nothing more than your brain playing tricks on you. Maybe the harder you look, the less you find to fear.
Maybe you look past the shadows and realize that fear drives us to run while courage helps us to heal.
We all have pain.
We all see the shadows.
It could be losing that big deal, working to get that next promotion, or fighting through past failures…
Just remember to look past the shadows.
DAN WALDSCHMIDT @danwaldo
Essay 32. I Walked Barefoot over Hot Burning Coals.
I stepped up to the fire pit and looked down. In front of me I saw a bed of hot burning coals twelve feet long. With
a temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The coals were glowing red. It looked like Hell. And I was about to walk
across them barefoot.
If I knew before that this was part of the seminar, I probably wouldn't have attended.
In that moment, I felt fear like I've never felt before.
I also felt the heat on my face, radiating from the embers. These coals were real.
Every fiber of my being said "don't do it!"
But we had just learned techniques for how to break through fear. I applied what I learned.
And I took that first step onto the coals.
In five strides, I reached the end of the bed of coals and stepped onto the lawn on the other side. And I celebrated!
Before, I thought that the most important step would be that last step, when I completed the firewalk.
With time to reflect, I realize that the most important step was the first step. Taken despite my initial fear. Despite
not knowing if I could do it.
Today, I know that if I can conquer that fear, I can conquer any fear that I have in my life.
My point is this. When you feel fear, take that first step. And you'll turn fear into power.
DAVID ECKOFF @davideckoff
We are fickle about fear. Sometimes we thrive on her, sometimes we fear her. Do we ultimately need her to keep
us in line? When I work without fear, I make the greatest strides in my career and life.
Imagine a scenario where you could not fail. This is the place I put myself in my career and am working on in
my personal life. If you accept that failure is an essential part of success -in fact a requirement of your job- then
ultimately you win even with failure on your track record. I know I can’t possibly win every prospect I pursue. I’ll
give my best effort. But I know that my job is a numbers game. Life is too.
I’ve been in the recruiting business since 1995. I’m a business owner, marketer, and sales guy as well as a
recruiter and trainer. I know that only a certain percentage of the prospects that I call on are in a position to do
business with me. So I consider the “no’s” just a step closer to the “yes’s”.
My vanity tells me that I should win everything I pursue. I’ve had some good runs. But recruiting and sales is
about ups and downs. I embrace the “no’s” as much as I do the “yes’s”. Hand in hand.
To me, kicking fear’s ass is just about managing my own expectations and knowing that wins are just a “no” away.
CRAIG FISHER @fishdogs
When I was first approached about writing for this project about kicking fear’s ass, I was excited. Then I thought
about what I would say. I became fearful. I wrote nothing. I asked for a longer deadline. I made excuses. I stared
at a lot of blank screens. I got my ass kicked by fear.
I started to think of all the decisions that have led up to where I am and all were fear based. They became excuses
and roadblocks. I learned that the more I allowed fear to control me, the less I was living and just existing. Bad
things began happening. Bad decisions were made. I had control, but I wasn’t taking it. Fear was...
MARISA SHARPE @marisasharpe
Essay 35. Fear Verses Desire.
I choose to do things that scare lots of people. I race motorcycles. I’m an aggressive inline skater. I’ve started
companies. I do a lot of public speaking.
Being fearless has nothing to do with it. I have no idea how to vanquish fear. Fear is with me every day. Every time
I try something new, face the unknown, or explore the edges of my personal ability, I’m scared.
The difference comes with desire. I want the results enough to do what I can to mitigate the risks and choose to
Understand that you can never completely eliminate risk, and then do your best to mitigate it. I wear every
available piece of safety equipment before I swing a leg over my motorcycle. I make sure my tires are good, my
bike is ready. I take racing skills classes. I mitigate the risk of crashing or hurting myself. Then I choose to race,
because I want to be a racer.
When speaking to a group, I’m thoroughly prepared. I make sure to know my material better than any possible
audience member. I practice exhaustively. I mitigate the risk of making a fool of myself, and choose to speak,
because I want to be a public speaker.
Envision what you want. Mitigate the risks as much as you can. Choose to take actions. You don’t have a choice
about fear. You have a choice what to do with it.
JOHN CLOONAN @johncloonan
Essay 36. Fear the Selfish Act.
I believe fear and doubt are two of the worst diseases that plague us as human beings. Fear is something that
paralyzes us as humans. It doesn’t necessarily paralyze us physically but it can definitely paralyze our mentalities,
our dreams, our drive, and it also lessens our expectations of what we can achieve in life.
I choose to put fear and doubt in a completely different category. I believe fear and doubt are the most selfish
emotions that we possess as human beings. Fear is selfish because when people are afraid, the only person that
they are concerned with is themselves. We do not take the time to think about how overcoming this fear can
instantly give hope to millions of people. Every time a fear arises, it is an opportunity to give hope to people.
After overcoming fears, you gain the confidence to attack situations that seem impossible! I know that as I succeed
and continue to not allow fear to stop me. The way to beat selfish emotions and actions is with selflessness.
Getting rid of fear is the beginning of living a life without limitations. Fear is a self-imposed barrier. People feel
unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and stagnate because there is some area in their lives that they are allowing fear to
paralyze. Let the selfishness of fear go and live a life that the world can model after. Give hope!
DWIGHT PERRY @PerryIntl
Essay 37. What Are You Really Afraid Of?
We are all afraid of something. Some of our fears are obvious. Some of us are afraid of spiders or heights or dogs or
clowns or ex-girlfriends. Other fears are less obvious. Like the fear of loss: loss of things, loss of acceptance, loss of
love. Sometimes we’re afraid to give up what we think we have.
Fear traps us. It prevents us from growing and contributing. It prevents us from living a free life. In fact, fear is the
antithesis of freedom. It is, by definition, constricting.
We often hold on to things because we are afraid to get rid of them. We don’t just fear the loss of these things; we
fear the loss of what these things might mean to us in some distant, hypothetical future.
There is an obvious question we must ask ourselves when we’re holding on to something: what are you really afraid
of? Go on, look in the mirror, give it a try...
You don’t want to say “no” to that person? Why, what are you really afraid of?
You don’t want to get rid of all that junk? Why, what are you really afraid of?
You don’t want to exercise? Why, what are you really afraid of?
You don’t want to quit your job and pursue your passions? Why, what are you really afraid of?
You don’t want to [fill in the blank]? Why, what are you really afraid of?
JOSHUA FIELDS MILLBURN @JFM
RYAN NICODEMUS @ryan_nicodemus
Essay 38. Facing Fear in Childhood Set the Stage for Overcoming Adversities as
I’m only supposed to write about one fear. But, truthfully, I’ve got two, one of which I’ve got to overcome pretty
quickly if I’m going to share the one that’s supposed to be the main focus of this story.
My first fear is exposing the fear I overcame. I’ve never shared it with anyone other than family. But to not share it
would be inauthentic. After all, overcoming this childhood fear was a life-defining experience – one that gave me the
tenacity and coping skills to face and overcome adversities throughout my life.
From age six to eight, I had a paralyzing fear of spending the night out. This fear was painful, to say the least.
With help, I faced my fear head-on - breaking something that felt large and overwhelming into smaller, more
manageable steps. And after successfully spending an entire night out, I felt a sense of victory equal to Djokovich
winning the US Open or the Packers winning the Super Bowl.
I also gained a tremendous amount of inner strength that has served me well in life. We went through a recession?
No problem. I had faced and overcome something far scarier than that. A client’s given me a challenging project?
Easy. I just break it into smaller steps.
And that ‘spending the night out’ fear? Having lived in New York, Boston, San Francisco and Nashville, I think it’s
safe to say I’ve overcome that fear for good.
RACHEL FRANCO @Write4Results
Fear has never been an obstacle for me. I hung off cliffs for fun, mountain biked down narrow trails at
break-neck speeds, started scuba diving at 12, took my first solo flight at 18. Fear never got in the way of
the excitement of the moment. I have always been blessed with the ability to ignore fear, focusing instead
on the reward of the challenge. Most people think fear comes from the unknown. That's BS. KNOWING that
I would die if I fell off the side of a cliff certainly didn't chase away fear.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I faced fear. it wasn't the possibility of dying that scared me, it was not
being here for those I love. Through my battle, I realized that it really wasn't the unknown I feared — it was
the lack of control. For the first time, I relied on others as I never had to before and I didn't have complete
control over what was ahead.
I decided to focus on surrounding myself with like-minded people and overcoming the challenges I could
control. From family and friends to my oncology team, I never saw a pause in the direction we were
headed. Everyone just kept moving forward. No one allowed fear to cause a single hesitation on the path to
our goal — remission.
Fear is an obstacle. You either stop and stare at it ... or you move through it.
JOHN WESTMORELAND @indepth_wraps
Essay 40. The 7 Ins and 1 Out of Kicking Fear’s Ass.
To kick fear’s ass, and come out alive, we must first go within and listen to the fear itself.
1. Face your fear. It isn’t going away. Besides, if you stopped feeling fear, eventually you’d stop feeling anything.
And that would suck.
2. Befriend, even love, your fear. It’s a gift. It keeps you from stepping off cliffs. It reminds you that there are
just some things too important to risk. It means you’re alive. You aspire for more. And that’s good.
3. Really listen to your fear. What’s it warning you about? What’s the thing it’s trying to help you protect? This
information is golden.
4. Pretend failure isn’t possible. If you couldn’t lose, what would you be doing? What deep desires would you be
carrying out if you weren’t afraid of failing?
5. Imagine going for it. What if you went for your dream and got it? Or more? And yes, imagine you got a less
desirable result. Would you really be sorry you went for it?
6. Imagine giving in. Say that the fear kicked your ass and you gave up on the vision. How might you feel
tomorrow? Next year? On your death bed?
7. Evaluate what you know now and then choose. Which is stronger – the fear or the desire? Be really honest
with yourself here. And if the desire is stronger, then…
1. Risk it - I dare you!
LAURA BIERING @LauraOBiering
Edited by Todd Schnick. You can learn more about him here, or send him an email
To learn more about the project, visit KickingFearsAss.com, or subscribe for email
updates by clicking here.
Cover drawing by David Cohen.
Now get out there and kick fear’s ass.
What the hell are you waiting for?