Fear Tells Us What We Have to Do

Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.

Steven Pressfield

I almost puked on Madison Avenue. 

It is one hour before I have to arrive at the studios of Hachette Audio (one of the greatest audiobook companies in the world). It is my first day recording the audiobook version of the Scare Your Soul book. As I threaded the morning Midtown crowds on my way to get a tea, I could barely function. 

I had fought hard to be able to do this. 

I even had to send in an audition tape

This is scary. And I want this. 

If Daring Greatly and The Artist’s Way had a baby, the Scare Your Soul book might very well be its beloved infant. It is a mix of stories, science, writing prompts, and real-world challenges. And it is personal. 

Like, VERY personal. 

In it, I share:

  • How I spent much of my childhood feeling unworthy, a shy kid bullied and lonely 
  • How the epiphany that I had on an airplane changed my life 
  • The death of my idol – my first cousin – and the impossible event that freed me from its grip
  • The truth of how my first girlfriend cheated on me, and how I moved to forgiveness 
  • How a train-wreck of a first date led to one of the deepest relationships of my life 
  • How a near-disaster while giving a TEDx Talk led to a massive boost in confidence 
  • And so much more

The initial feedback I got from Hachette was hard to hear.  They liked my tape but were concerned that I wouldn’t have the stamina to narrate for four days, six hours a day. I can’t blame them. And it would have been easy to just say OK. 

Let someone else do it. 

But I couldn’t. It seemed CRAZY that someone I didn’t know – no matter how velvety their voice was – would voice these personal moments. It seemed CRAZY that – no matter how scary the experience would be – that I wouldn’t give it everything I had. 

So I pushed. I called. I lobbied.

And, now, here I am; sitting at a Starbucks, trying to steady my frayed nerves. Not to mention to try to avoid puking on Madison Avenue. 

It immediately calls to mind something I read from the Farnum Street Blog:

“There is nothing that gets in the way of success more than avoidance. We avoid hard conversations. We avoid certain people. We avoid hard decisions … Sometimes we muster up half the courage. We have half the conversation we wanted to have. We do half the hard thing. We acknowledge the evidence but convince ourselves this time is different. We see the person we’re avoiding but don’t really talk to them. We start but don’t commit to the project. 

And here’s the interesting thing. Half-efforts tend to make things worse, not better.”

I don’t want to lead a half-effort life. 

And neither should you. 

So, I ask:

  • Where are you avoiding the hard thing right now? 
  • Where can you lobby and push to get what you want?
  • What seems so hard and scary that your stomach can’t handle it, but you NEED to do it anyway?

As Anais Nin once said, “And the day came when the wish to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 

Push against fear. 

Push hard. 

It’s the indicator that you’re doing what you need to do. 

Scott Simon

Scott Simon is a happiness entrepreneur, SYS founder, and author of Scare Your Soul: 7 Powerful Principles for Harnessing Fear and Living Your Most Courageous Life. The book is currently available for pre-order ahead of its release on December 6th, 2022 published by Hachette Book Group.


Digital Detox Challenge

Nowhere is our independence in more jeopardy than in our digital lives. Various surveys find people more willing to give up food, sleep, and sex than to lose their internet connections. One recent study found that half of us would rather have a broken bone than a broken phone.  

  • 61% admit to being addicted to the internet and their devices.
  • 50% of people prefer to communicate digitally than in person.
  • High social media use can trigger an increase in loneliness & jealousy 

We forget, all too easily, that when our phone is off, there’s a whole world out there to be explored. 

Your Challenge for this week is to choose one evening and turn off your phone (and other screens) from 5:00 p.m. until you wake up the following morning.

Cue sweaty palms and nausea. We get it. We’re going to do it too. If it helps, print off this handy Permission Slip.

Some ideas of things to do while off our phones:

Read this awesomeness by John Stilgoe, or a little (or a lot) of this by Cheryl Strayed, and then get yourself outside.  Walk, savor, breathe.

Make a bucket list of things to do in the next 5 years.  Put them on post-it notes.  Stick them up in your closet.

Select a random recipe, shop for the ingredients, and cook.  Feed others if possible.

Print off Arthur Aron’s 36 questions.  Sit with someone you love – or want to love – and just do them.  You’ll thank us later.

Spend quality time re-sparking intimacy with your sig-o, or have a deep talk with a friend about why modern love is so damn hard.

Grab some friends and one of these board games.

Bring a fine journal and the world’s best $1.33 pen to a library or coffee house, and free-write about what makes you most grateful.

Take a hot bath or shower, brew a big mug of tea, crack open a great book, and get primed for an early and awesome night’s sleep. 

________________________________________________________

When you’re done, please take a minute and share your experiences in our Facebook group, or post on your social networks using the hashtag #scareyoursoul  

 

In courage,

Scott 


Christine Reed

Bold | Rugged | Ready

Christine Reed

Hi! I’m Christine– and I’m so happy to be part of the Scare Your Soul community. I started finding myself through scary challenges in my early 20s when I decided to set out hiking the Appalachian Trail. I had never been outdoorsy or sporty or athletic, but something about the challenge spoke to a curiosity I didn’t know I had inside me. A curiosity to dig deep and figure out what was possible. Since then I’ve backpacked many long trails and summitted many mountains. Along the way I learned to transfer that curiosity to other areas of my life. I wrote and published my first book, Alone in Wonderland, to share some of that story with the world. Being part of the Scare Your Soul community is an amazing opportunity to share the joy of doing things that seem hard, challenging, impossible, crazy with the world. Reminding me AND you to keep putting myself out there.


Julie Dery

Optimistic | Adventurous | Creative

Julie Dery


Lisa's Scare Your Soul Story

Hi, I’m Lisa.

I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I just didn’t know what kind of business it would be. Until I landed my role as WeWork’s second employee in February 2010.

At the end of the first year, after opening WeWork’s first two locations in NYC, the company gave out employment agreements which included an 18-month noncompete. I was the only one of 25 employees not willing to sign it. I had been honing my skills alongside Founders Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, working tirelessly, wearing several hats, and yet I knew that ultimately I would never have final say in how things were done. 

The prospect of leaving was gut wrenching. I loved what we were creating and I could see the tremendous (and global) potential of Adam’s vision for the business from the start. He always said WeWork would become the next Google, from a valuation perspective, and leaving meant giving up the possibility of becoming a millionaire.

I thought of my dad, Henry “Hank” Skokowski. He was a prominent Urban Planner in South Florida who unexpectedly died on Valentine’s Day 2004, while touring Australia and New Zealand on a motorcycle as part of a two month soul-searching trip.  Losing him suddenly taught me that life is short and can be taken from us at any moment. Who I want to be in the world is someone who seizes opportunities and takes great risks where there can be great rewards. In my heart I knew that if I didn’t leave, I would always be left with the question of “what if”.

After weeks of thoughtful conversations with both Adam and Miguel, I mustered the courage to give my three weeks notice and I left — knowing that one day I could be very happy opening 2-3 locations of my own. Given the professional network I had been fostering in Manhattan BNI [Business Network International] for years, my intuition told me I could actually make it happen.

In January 2015, Adam reached out to me on text asking to meet. At the time, WeWork was valued at $12B.

A week later, sitting in his palatial corner office at 222 Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District, Adam shared that he felt “something was missing”. He wanted to have me take on one of their buildings to “hire, fire, and train” … whatever I needed to do to “create a feeling of connection and community” that we had when I was with them in the beginning.

At that moment, the intuitive voice in my head screamed ‘if he thinks you can create something that is missing in his $12B company, it is time to launch your own business’.

I thanked him for the opportunity and said I would think about it [and be in touch].

I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my body as I immediately walked out onto Broadway and called the person who would become Primary’s seed investor. I said, “I am ready to start my own company”. He said, “Great. I am ready to invest.”

Six months later, I secured an operating agreement with his commitment to invest $6mm in my new business. Less than one year later, we opened the doors of Primary’s flagship location at 26 Broadway facing the famous Charging Bull Statue in Lower Manhattan. 

As they say, leap and the net will appear. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. 

– Lisa Skye

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Johanna Ratner

Empathetic | Warm | Kind

Johanna Ratner

I had always wanted to shave my head, just once in my life.  To shed a part of my ever present vanity, to prove to myself that I’m not unattractive, and to face the fear of being considered unfeminine..  And I did just that…because, at 40, I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and my oncologist assured me that my protocol of chemo therapy would remove my hair. So, as a preemptive strike, I sat on my friend’s porch, and he shaved my head. It was not the circumstances under which I wanted to face this particular fear however.

So the picture you see is me  – this year – at 48, seven years cancer free. I sat in my son’s barber’s chair, held my breath and said, “Remember years ago when you said you’d love to cut my hair off?”  He smiled and went to town! I was really nervous and it was exhilarating (Thank you Scott Simon for being there) And here’s what I learned.

  • I’m not hideous.
  • Not all men prefer long hair on a woman.
  • I don’t care if a man (or anyone really ) thinks I’m attractive or not according to their standards.
  • I love the way short hair looks on me, but prefer the ‘feel’ of longer hair.
  • I kept it short for 2 months, and am now growing it out.

I’m proud of myself…sometimes you have to do something just to see whether or not it’s right for you.


Fiorella Yriberry

Thoughtful | Empathetic | Brave

Fiorella Yriberry

Everything I ever wanted was on the other side of fear.

As I learned how to visualize my future in the world I realized that some dreams gave me terrible fear. Growing up, I often let anxiety take charge and it quickly started to inhibit me from pursuing certain dreams. Making the decision to attend college in a new country, many miles away from home and anything comfortable scared me to death; but it also gave me life. It taught me that the world is too big and beautiful and that every day – every opportunity is unique. It taught me to make fear my friend and to face it with courage.

This new start in my life changed many things for me. I found the most enriching, fulfilling and life-changing experiences by seeing fear as a close friend who challenged me to try. By not letting my fears get in the way I pursued huge and intimidating dreams: from sailing across the world with Semester At Sea to converting a shuttle bus into a tiny eco-home.

I’m grateful for the opportunities and dreams this world has for me and have learned that fear is not big enough to scare me away. Pushing yourself to follow a path alongside fear is the best damn thing you can for yourself.

I’m here to help you stop questioning yourself, to believe in the gratitude and abundance of today.

Time to pursue that dream and not look back!


Steph Darr

Curious |Genuine | Zestful

Steph Darr


Lucy Norris

Fearless | Spirited | Loyal

Lucy Norris

Hi, I’m Lucy,

Presenting the best version of myself is what I was trained to do. On the flip side, It also seems as though I like to shock my body into new adventures just to remind myself that life is not a dress rehearsal and not everything can be well presented and picture-perfect. Sometimes you just have to wing it.

And winging it always seemed to lead me in the right direction, always making big life decisions based on instinct.

As a young dancer, London called my name at the tender age of 17. I auditioned, trained, and eventually worked professionally.

I then said goodbye and flew to Cyprus for a year on a whim. Traveled around the world because it felt right, never having a plan, and then finally took a chance and moved to America to follow my dreams as a TV presenter. And it all seemed to work out just right. For a while on the surface, When it was good, it was really good, but when it started to unwind and go bad, things really didn’t seem right anymore.

15 years on, and the life that looked dreamy to everyone else no longer made me happy. I was battling anxiety, in tremendous debt, and living beyond my means, both physically and mentally. I was burnt out.

So I took another risk and scared my soul in returning to my home country to start all over again in my mid-thirties.
My university has always been life. When it no longer feels right, I move towards what scares me the most because often on the other side of fear is our ultimate potential.

In just two years I transformed my life and reached my goals. And now life is just about to take another turn. Constantly changing. Always evolving, often unrecognizable. That’s because life is supposed to be lived, and never compromised.

So I begin again. A brand new chapter. Life after the American dream; a chapter I hope to share with you all.

Remember, nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s a lot less scary when we are in it together.


Lorraine Schuchart

Purposeful | Curious | Empathetic

Lorraine Schuchart