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.