I’m fairly confident that all successful entrepreneurs have this in common: We’ve found a way to “do it scared.”
See, we all feel the fear. From an evolutionary perspective, we’re wired for safety. So, being keenly aware of anything that could pose a threat to our survival is part of what the brain is designed to do!
And what’s a threat to our survival? Being different. Different than we once were. Different from the pack. Outliers. Leaders. Something that stands alone and looks like tasty dinner for beasts, as far as the brain is concerned.
So rather than attempt to turn off something that’s a part of my brain’s design (I can just hear tech support saying, “It’s not a bug; it’s a feature!” when I call ’em up about this crazy wiring), my job is to find a way to do my life’s work… even while a part of my brain is absolutely certain I may die.
I wrote my first book in 2002. My most popular book has just gone in for the 5th printing of its 4th edition. With EVERY edition of my book, I have been certain that I’ve removed everything that made it valuable, kept all the crap everyone hated but quietly overlooked, and added totally useless drivel. I am always positive that what worked was a happy accident. A fluke. And I should leave well enough alone rather than reaching for more.
Let me underscore this: Each segment of growth in my life and business has involved an element of being 100% sure I’m going to break the thing that worked before. And that I’m choosing to break it due to the audacity of striving. As I’m writing this, we’re embarking on a brand expansion that I am absolutely certain will not only fail miserably but also take down my beloved empire.
Now, I feel this fear even though EVERY single time I’ve pushed beyond my edges, that fear is proven wrong by the fact that each new thing is more successful, more valuable, more treasured by its fanbase. Even with all that data to counterbalance the fear, I *still* face down this monster every damn time.
Why does it keep showing up? Because I’m wired to feel it. We all are.
So rather than trying not to feel it or beating myself up for being exactly the right amount of scared for the way my brain interprets growth, I move forward with one little task. I do it scared. And when I finish it I say the words, “And I didn’t die.”
If I need to, I’ll use that exact task dismount in accountability groups, in emails, or in safe workout spaces like Tara McMullin’s What Works Network. “And I didn’t die” is just the right amount of irreverent and silly. Yet I know that my saying it tells my amygdala, “You are safe. WE are safe. All is well.”
There are times I’ll pull out all the stops — EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique AKA “tapping”), RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy), aromatherapy, acupuncture, you name it — and at other times I’ll pull out all the data. Because I am an empiricist. A very woo-woo empiricist, but an empiricist just the same. 😉
Have you ever seen an old photo of yourself and thought, “Man! I didn’t know how wonderful I was. Look at me! I really should’ve enjoyed myself more then“? I sure have. Now, I’ve done a fairly spectacular job of enjoying my life at every age, weight, and state of being. I’m pretty proud of my enoughness. It’s at a really great resting state. (Believe me, I’ve done the work to make that true.)
But the pattern I started tracking was this: I can always look back at those old photos and see, objectively, someone who was more fabulous than she may have felt at that moment. Rather than sitting in sadness over not having enjoyed those moments to the fullest, I began to sit with the knowing that this means, at this very moment, I am more awesome than my fears may let me think I am.
So, yeah. We’re built to have the doubts. We’re also built to survive them. And if we’re really lucky, we build up the mental muscle for believing that we’re only ever improving upon the current version of ourselves, every new day. That doesn’t mean we won’t feel the fear. We will. We’re wired to. But by using a combination of pragmatic data, stellar self-talk, and maybe a dash of woo, sometimes we can face that fear, thank it for the role it has in keeping us alive, do the damn thing (do it scared), and then declare, “And I didn’t die!”
This essay originally appeared as a part of Tara McMullin’s Candid Confidence Project for the What Works Network. I’ve been working within Tara’s network for just over a year now and it has been a wonderfully fortifying support system for my brand expansion. I’ve hired experts from within the network to help me grow. I’ve been hired by colleagues in the network for enoughness coaching. I’ve upgraded my peer group while having a lot of fun!
I’m celebrating this experience while *also* celebrating a pretty cool development in my showbiz life at the same time. I wrote another essay here about my wee role in Twitch’s first Emmy win. And wouldn’t you know it… as I’m focused almost entirely on The Enoughness Project, I’ve been hired to cast two feature films that will shoot in 2020. What a PERFECT time to start doing weekly livestreams, right?
If you’d like to start making a little Bon-time a habit, join me starting Tuesday the 3rd at 12pm PDT and come back EVERY Tuesday through the end of October over at Facebook Live (or YouTube Live or Periscope/Twitter). To keep up with our weekly topics, just take a peek at my EVENTS page. We’ll be sure to update as we go!
Ooh, it’s such a fabulous time! Join me for the ride, won’t you?
Comments are open just below. I’d love to hear about how confidence plays out in your life! Do share with me… and I’ll see you on the livestream!
Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!
Bonnn! Hey hey! Love this topic and wanted to share the phrase I use to keep me out of fear. It’s just as silly and I love using it! “I’m not going to jail for this.”
What I’ve spent a lot of time on in unraveling the people-pleasing, gold star- seeking, must-do-it-right-or-else-
die versions of myself, and embrace that I won’t get in trouble if it doesn’t work out the way I hoped it would.
Congratulations on your two features!
Ah love this! I talk about it a lotin leadership presence courses I facilitate…why do we say “Phew that’s over!” instead of “Yes I did the thing!”
I also share a quote by David Whyte…”Courage is a measure of your heartfelt participation with life, a work, a community, a future.”
Hi I live in Redondo beach and would love a on camera ( single camera comedy class) near me during the school day. I can’t find anything and every class I’ve taken takes me an hour and half to get to. Any suggestions
“I am more awesome than my fears may let me think I am” YES!!! Once again, you have blasted an article right when I needed to read it! This is a great topic. Thanks, Bonnie!
Ah, Melissa, I love it! Isn’t it fun to come up with sayings that coach ourselves out of that fearful place? Right on!! And thank you. 😉
Briana, honestly, I think one of the things that’s been the most valuable for me these past few years is really investing in communities where exactly that sort of celebration takes place as a way of normalizing the success we all strive for. So helpful! LOVES me some David Whyte! Thank you. I hadn’t seen that quote. 🙂 So glad you shared it.
Hiya Leland — I don’t know the Redondo area and I’d imagine that most on-camera classes are going to be closer to LA since Redondo *is* so close to LA. I mean… just smarter business on the part of the instructors to do business where the business IS, y’know? Make sure you download the SMFA Hot Sheet on training and maybe call around some of the LA on-camera facilities to ask whether they have suggestions for locations that may be closer to you!
Ah, Jillian, I’m so glad this landed right on time for you. 🙂 Sending you so much love and focus and a reminder that you are enough, baby girl!!