What’s best for you is not always the easiest path to follow. Sometimes we have to do the hard thing and face our fears in order to have a successful life. Today Connor and Brittany discuss how to face your fears productively.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So, you know, in addition to talking about history and entrepreneurship, one of the things we’ve talked about on the show, one topic we’ve talked about is how to be your best self. How to make the most out of your life, because that’ll help you with your career. That’ll help you leave a mark on history that isn’t terrible, hopefully. So, today I wanna talk about something that I think is very important, and it’s something that I am actually terrible at, which is why I decided to ask this question today or to talk about this, and that’s facing our fears. Now, I wanna start off by saying, there are some things that deserve a little fear, right? You should always be cautious when you’re crossing a street at fear that you might get hit by a car. There’s a little bit of healthy fear in some things, but what about fear that holds us back And think about maybe entrepreneurs think of all the entrepreneurs who will never be because they didn’t take a risk, they didn’t face something that was, holding them back. And maybe that was fear of failure. Fear of failure is a huge one for a lot of people. So I’ve talked about this before, and it’s similar to the fear of failure, but I always wanted to be a singer when I was younger. I loved it. I took voice lessons, I took years of voice lessons. I was pretty good at it. I’m still pretty good at it, but I was too scared to audition for anything, which means even though I wanted to be a musical theater performer, I never got to be because I was terrified of being turned down for a role. And I think maybe three or four times I would get in my car and I would drive to an audition. I would get out of my car, I would walk to the door, I would turn around, walk back to my car, sit in there for about an hour, and then drive home. And yeah, this happened time and time again. And even as a kid, I would say like, all right, I’m gonna go audition. And my mom would say, it’s time. And I would go hide. So this is something I never really learned to deal with. And, to this day, I regret it. And it’s funny because Connor’s, you know, I do standup comedy and that doesn’t scare me, right? For some reason, that’s fine. But getting up and singing in front of people, there’s something very intimate about it. Because if you are the slightest bit nervous, you’ll hear it and you’re in somebody’s singing voice where it’s a little bit easier to hide when you’re talking. But, that has always been bothering me cuz I can’t go back in time and change that. But I never learned to face my fear. I never learned to just, you know, get in there and do it. I fail. But I never got to grow and, get stronger at that. So that’s something I always regret. That’s kind of why I wanted to talk about this today. Connor, I’m curious, do you have any stories like this?
Connor: Oh, boy.
Brittany: Tell us all your fears.
Connor: All right. Real, talk. Here we go. I guess the one that comes to mind is, you know, going to like youth dances for school or, you know. And I was shorter, you know, I was a late bloomer and I was bullied a lot, because of my height. And you know, I mean, I was just, you know, I pretended I was a cool kid and tried to be or whatever, but when I would go to these dances and, you know, you’re having fun with your friends, you’re dancing, dancing, and then the solo song comes on. Yeah. And that insecurity would just like come like raging where I would go hide in the bathroom. I would, I would, oh, I gotta go to the bathroom. And I would just take a really long time and, you know, rather than deal with, you know, people seeing me. Yeah. little Connor. rather than people seeing me not dancing with someone rather than having to ask someone and get rejected, you know, I just lack the courage to just be assertive and, you know, have some fun or whatever. And, what’s interesting is years later, I mean, I’m, you know, as I’m starting libertas and I’m, going to all these events and I’m meeting people and there’s all these like, social things. And I remember early on I, had to, try and combat this because I would be at these social events and everyone’s, you know, kind of eating or having fun and mixing and mingling and talking with one another. And, you know, people would already be kind of grouped up in a sense of like, you know, who they were talking with and mingling with. And then as I would like, approach, I’d be, I, would have those insecurities come back and I would run away. You know, I’d be like, oh, I’m gonna go, you know, back to my room, or I’m gonna pretend I’m on the phone, or no.
Brittany: I’ve done that before.
Connor: Yeah. You know, and rather than like, walk right up to someone and be assertive or, you know, risk, I don’t know what like, I mean, because it’s not like people are gonna, I’m like, oh, you can’t come in our circle. Like no one does that. But, yeah, like that. I remember in the early years as I would do this at these events, that feeling of 14, 15, 16-year-old Connor would come back inside my head where I’d remember hiding in the bathroom because I, was, you know, afraid. And I had to work really hard and still do at having to kind of overcome that.
Brittany: Well, that’s the important part, right? Is, is working to overcome it. So today I wanna talk about something called fear setting. And it sounds like goal setting, right? And it is kind of like goal setting, but it’s almost the opposite. And you write down all your fears, which I know does not sound very fun. but these are tips that, you know, are not only gonna help you in your daily lives now, cuz like Connor and I shared our stories came from when we were younger. But it’s also gonna help you when you’re older and you start your career. You know, maybe you wanna ask for a raise, but you’re terrified of that confrontation. So, there’s a lot of things that can scare you. I’m gonna give a Yoda quote for my Star Wars fans out there, but I am not going to imitate Yoda because I embarrass myself. I thought about it, but I decided out of fear of embarrassing myself I know.
Connor: People can imagine it themselves.
Brittany: Yes. So named, must your fear be before Banish It. You can, and I love this, Connor, if you wanna help unpack this a little bit. Cause I think it’s, for you and I, it’s kind of a little bit obvious, but what does that mean to you?
Connor: Okay, so let me make sure I get that right. Named must your fear be before Banish It, you banish it. So, in non-Yoda English, it’s, you must name your fear before you can banish it. Okay? So, I know someone who has some fears or, or some kind of challenges in life. And what they do, periodically is they will, they’ll like write it down on a piece of paper. Yep. And, they’ll talk about it, you know, sometimes even to themself, they’ll just kind of, you know, talk about it, whatever. They’ll crumple that piece of paper up and they’ll throw it in the fire. And it’s a way for them. Yeah. It’s a way for them to kind of release that fears and say, I’m done with this. I’m no longer gonna be like, held down with this. You have to, this I this idea, and I don’t really practice things this way, and perhaps I should, but, but I, can see, some of the wisdom of like, you have to be intentional about something before you can address it. Like, and so naming your fear is gonna allow you to like, work through it and overcome that fear. If you never tackle it, if you never, you know, like if you’re afraid of snakes, right? If you never find a way to safely hold a snake surrounded by your family or friends or whatever comfort you need to like overcome that fear. You need to be intentional about it. You need to find what you’re afraid of, and then specifically figure out how you can address it head-on rather than always trying to like, avoid it.
Brittany: Exactly. You have to identify it. And we’ve talked about this with goal setting too. If you don’t have a goal, if you don’t write down your goal, what are you aiming towards? You don’t know what you’re aiming towards. And there’s another quote, a Harry Potter quote that’s like, I think it says, fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself. So basically, if you don’t stop and acknowledge that there is something you’re scared of, you’re never gonna understand it and you’re never gonna know how to get past it. So the first part of this, exercise calls fear setting, is you actually make a list of everything you are, you are scared of everything you fear, which obviously does not sound like a whole lot of fun, but this will help. So then you do another list. So you have your list of the things you fear, and then off to the side, you create another column where you actually brainstorm what is the worst possible thing that could happen if all these fears come true. So let’s say Young Brittany wrote, but my greatest fear was, you know, auditioning and, failing and, and not getting the part. So then I would write, you know, what is the absolute worst thing that would happen if that fear came through? And by the way, I’m gonna link to a worksheet. There’s actually a template. So if you do wanna do this exercise, it’s already set out for you. So, it’s a little bit scary. I know, Connor, this probably doesn’t seem like a fun part of the exercise, but I know I talked to you about this before. So if you wanna talk about the next column in this fear-setting worksheet.
Connor: Yeah. So the next part is, you know, you take this same list and you add a section for how you can stop the worst-case scenarios from happening. Now, you know, you don’t have control over everything. You can’t prevent someone from like, you know, getting an accident or getting sick, but there are some things you can control. And so we focus on those, we focus on what’s in our power. If Brittany, if you’re heading to addition, you know, and you worry that you’re gonna forget your lines to the words of a song, you know, you can prevent this perhaps by making sure you practice Yeah. And practicing a lot. So it’s like, you know, muscle memory, right? So it’s in your head.
Brittany: No, exactly. And, the next part is actually my favorite because this is where you’re really forced to change your attitude. And I think changing your attitude can do a lot. So you take your this list and you’ve already said, okay, what if the worst happens? But now this next section is, how can I repair what happens? And sometimes that’s not fixing the situation, right? You’re not gonna be able to fix every situation, but you can change your attitude toward it. You could say like, all right, this was not great, but what can I learn from this? So a lot of times, I hate to tell you, guys this, sometimes the worst case scenario does happen, and I actually love, I don’t love it. But there’s some sort of relief that happens when all your fears come true, because like, I know that sounds bleak, but I’ve gotten to a point, I know like, there was a time in my life where I decided to quit my job and just move back to DC without any plans whatsoever. And I was like, this is great. And then I moved here, I’m like, oh my goodness. Literally, everything has gone wrong. But there was this comfort in me saying, you know what, what else can go wrong? Now? Everything that I feared has happened, and so I almost felt like bulletproof, you know. But from that point, I could kind of say, okay, how can I repair this situation? I’m already here. I’m already in DC all the work I had planned fell through. Like, what now? But that’s where I felt like I had the most control to be, honest with you. So this is the part where you list all the benefits that can come from trying to repair the damage of these negative outcomes, right? So, okay, the worst happens, you know, what do you do from there? So I, think that part’s pretty cool.
Connor: You know, to me, the important part is like looking forward, right? Yes. That, so, you know, next in this little, exercise, this, is the thing that I think is important. Like, if you don’t do this thing that you fear, how, what is it gonna cost you, you know, six months from now, one year from now, I mean, three years from now, you know, I, like to think of what’s called the opportunity cost, right? I have a coach. In fact, Brittany, literally right before us recording this podcast, I was talking to my coach and we meet every other week. And so we were talking about some of the things that I’m thinking about and working on. And, one of the things we are talking about, there’s this kind of, I don’t know, this I’ll even use the example, like, to apply something I already did. So let’s go back in time. And Connor’s, you know, feeling nervous about like, you know, being social with people and, feeling like I’m 15 again at, the school dance, right? So, what my coach would say to that is he’d say, well what’s the benefit that you get from avoiding people or pretending you’re on the phone? Well, so the benefit to that would be, I guess, just avoiding rejection, right? , like, I don’t have to put myself in that environment and worry that someone’s gonna be mean to me, or they’re not gonna like me, or, right? So like, that’s a benefit, right? You’re a void avoiding being hurt. And so that’s a benefit. But then he would say, my coach would say, well, what’s the cost? What does it cost you? And, you know, this is in this part of the exercise, this forward thinking, like, you know, what will it cost you in the future? So, if I don’t connect with people at these events, if I am not friendly, if I’m not creating relationships, what’s the cost? Well, that could be a huge cost. Yep. Like, it could be that, you know, I don’t find my, my next, you know, you know, person who wants to come work with me, who would be amazing and do great things. It could be, I may not find a, a donor for my nonprofit. It could be that I may not find someone who can help me in some way or who I can serve. Like, we don’t know what we’re missing out on. And so the cost of me in this situation of like avoiding those, those situations, there’s, there’s potentially a big cost and I don’t even know what it is. Yep. You know, by you not getting out there, Brittany, you missed out on perhaps valuable practice that you know, would’ve made you better if you had done the thing that scared you. You know, how much further, ahead would you, you know, have been now? Or could you be? And so, we have to look forward, when we think about our fears, we have to think like, okay, if I don’t let this go if I don’t try and overcome this, what’s it gonna cost me? Yep. And, you know, some of our fears might be silly and not have a big cost, right? Like, if I’m scared of snakes, it’s like, okay, that doesn’t have.
Brittany: Stay away from snakes, snakes deserve nothing.
Connor: Okay, we’ll write that one off. But, you know, there’s plenty of other fears too, and anxieties and, you know, maybe you don’t like speaking in public, or maybe you don’t like, you know, asking people for help or maybe you don’t like being assertive, you know, or, you don’t have a lot of confidence. Like, these are things that can affect all kinds of areas in your life. And so if we don’t name those fears to then, you know, set them aside and overcome them, if they continue to affect us, there’s gonna be a lot of costs. And maybe for the kids out there, your parents can help you think through what these costs are gonna be. If you have a mentor or other, you know, uncles, aunts, business people, whoever, like a ask around, ask for help, to kind of think up these ideas. Because suddenly when you real, in fact, my coach was saying this to me, he’s like, when you have a bad habit or when you have something that you’re not doing well, when you think through what the cost is, suddenly it becomes very easy to change. Like, think of someone who’s, who drinks alcohol a lot and, they’re kind of, you know, addicted to it, or that’s their lifestyle. Well, when they realize what the cost is, that, you know, you can destroy your, body, your relationships, you’re not gonna be, you know, there for your family, you could, you know, lose your job, you know, whatever. When you start to think through what the costs of your behaviors are, you know, suddenly you can snap out of it very quickly, and make a drastic change in your life when you realize what the costs are. And so, with our fears, I think it’s, I, like this part of the exercise where we look forward, you know because taking the easy route in life is not the most rewarding. I mean, people often say, what’s that? quote, it’s a high risk, high reward. you know, and, but you don’t know unless you try, right? Like, so you have to face your fears. Imagine if you’re too scared to ask your boss for a raise when they would’ve said yes, if only you had the courage to ask. I mean, I’ll tell you this, as a boss, Brittany, like that’s absolutely the case. if people were assertive enough to come and say, Hey, I think I’m worth this. Here’s what I’ve done, you know, here’s what I want to do. I bring this much value, I’d like this type of raise. I mean, you know that’s gonna be hard to say no to.
Brittany: And think of all the people that don’t do it. I know I’m one of them.
Connor: Yeah. And what are we leaving on the table, right? By not, being assertive, by not overcoming those fears and, you know, it’s beyond financial. It’s plenty of other things as well. So for the younger kids as well, you know, it’s hard. You know, you’re growing up, we’re all awkward, you know, interacting with adults, there’s all these insecurities. It’s great to think through. What are your fears? Give them a name so that you understand them and you can start to be intentional about how to address them, how you can overcome them, your parents or others in your life can help you. You know, and as Brittany and I have shown some of these things stay with you for years ago. So you wanna start to work through these and it’s gonna help you be a, you know, a good adult, a very competent one, and persevere and, prosper. So it’s a good topic to think through. Brittany thinks it’s always for chatting. This was a fun topic, and until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.