“Fear is a very real and active part of my life. I’m scared of heights and of looking like a fool…Always afraid people aren’t going to like me, or that they’ll think I’m annoying or weird or not worth their time. And I’m scared of failing or making a mistake, and what that might say about me…Ruth Soukup, Do It Scared
All that fear was standing in my way, just like it does for so many others.
A big dream. An even bigger fear. And then, inevitably, a huge regret.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I decided to stop letting fear stand in my way.
It’s okay to be afraid, but it’s not okay to let fear prevent me from doing all the things I love.
I needed to figure out a way to leverage fear to my advantage.
I decided, I would just do it scared.”
Discovering How to Do it Scared
The above quote is from the first few pages of Do It Scared by Ruth Soukup. I discovered Ruth during a weekend writing event for self-publishing authors. She has an amazing business structure and frankly an amazing book. If you struggle with pursuing or achieving your goals in life, it might be your fear holding you back. Do It Scared is a fantastic and quick read to discover your Fear Archetype and strategies to overcome those fears.
Ruth is truly an amazing strong woman, and a terrific business entrepreneur. There was so much in this book that I wanted to share, but I narrowed it down to the main 5 big ideas.
- Name Your Fear to Tame Your Fear
- Rules are for Suckers- Dare to Think Outside the Box
- Be Your Own Hero- Own Your Response to Conquer Fear
- There are no mistakes, only lessons
- Action is the antidote to fear
Big Idea #1- Name Your Fear to Tame Your Fear
The first part of the book is dedicated to the seven fear archetypes—the Procrastinator, the Rule Follower, the People Pleaser, the Outcast, the Self-Doubter, the Excuse Maker, and the Pessimist. Each archetype has a chapter dedicated to the habits and behaviors associated with the fear, and more importantly, strategies to overcome that fear.
Which Fear is Holding You Back?
On the Do It Scared website, you can take a quick 5-10 minute quiz to determine which is your predominant fear archetype, if you can’t quite pick out which one feels most real to you. Reading the book, I feel I am a Self-Doubter, but my fear assessment indicated my biggest fear is what other people will think of me—the People Pleaser.
The thing I really got out of reading about our fear archetypes wasn’t just figuring out which fear holds me back. It was the idea that naming it is half the battle. You are welcome to take the quiz yourself (be prepared for a barrage of emails, though, just as a warning—you can unsubscribe immediately), or you can check out the book for yourself to see which fear archetype holds you back the most.
Reframe and Take Action
Ruth provides a great overview of each archetype, as well as strategies to overcome them. Most of the strategies include a reframe mentality and a take action item. For the procrastinator, which is the fear archetype of perfectionists, the reframe is “look at life as a series of lessons rather than mistakes, which will give you more freedom to experiment rather than always striving to achieve perfection.”
Of course, THAT reminds me of Tal Ben-Shahar’s Pursuit of Perfect where he says “Failure is an inescapable part of life and a critically important part of any successful life. We learn to walk by falling, to talk by babbling, to shoot a basket by missing, and to color the inside of a square by scribbling outside the box. Those who intensely fear failing end up falling short of their potential. We either learn to fail or we fail to learn”.
The Take Action recommendations are ways to step through our fear doors and stay true to yourself. For the Outcast, someone who fears rejection so much they actually reject others first, Ruth recommends taking a step toward putting yourself out there. I’m reminded of the Talent Code where Daniel Coyle says “baby steps are the royal road to success.” Putting yourself out there doesn’t necessarily mean you run for senate or try out for America’s Got Talent. Take a baby step, something that is outside your comfort zone or what you normally would shy away from. Post something on Instagram. Join a writers’ group. Perform at a local open mic. The more you practice going through that fear door, and letting people in, the more comfortable it becomes, and the harder items become feasible (even running for senate or trying out for America’s Got Talent).
Pleasing Others or Do It For Myself
As for MY fear archetype? Well, for the People Pleaser, Ruth pretty much nailed me as a “yes woman”. But not just because I hate to disappoint others (although, to be honest, I am acutely aware and scared of how people may react to my writing and other projects). I am a yes woman because I have no filter on all the ideas that come into my head. And wanting to please everyone, I tend to try out all those ideas, hoping at least one of them will resonate and “get me more followers”. This fear, while I’m not completely convinced is my true fear archetype, holds me back because I tend to get overcommitted with “unimportant” projects and other people’s opinion of me can make me try to be perfect (which runs into my Self-Doubting and Procrastinating fears, as well).
While Ruth’s suggestion to practice self-care and focus on what I want rather than what others would like, I found just the realization that people pleasing is holding me back to be absolutely freeing.
Do What I Want, Do It Scared
For ZooFit, I’ve started practicing what I call “Do What I Want, Scared”. Yes, of course, I’d love to have thousands of followers. But doing things just to get followers isn’t going to make me happy. Honestly, it isn’t even going to lead to success. It’s going to lead me to doing hundreds of projects that I don’t care about, and no time for the passion projects. Those passion projects are scary. Because they are what I love, and they may or may not resonate with others. But I tell you what, they resonate with me.
I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion without really looking deep and discovering my Fear archetype. First step is becoming aware of the problem. We have to name it to tame it.
So, what is your fear? Discover your archetype, what you’re most afraid of, and then face it head on.
Big Idea #2- Dare to Think Outside the Box
Part 2 of Do It Scared, The Principles of Courage, begins to show us how we can turn our fear into an asset by taking action.
One of the more popular fear archetypes is the Rule Follower. As I read the description of the Rule Follower, I recognized several people in my past. Have you ever heard the statement “we’ve always done it that way”? I realized this wasn’t coming from a place of belligerence or animosity towards my idea, it was rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown, and fear of rocking the boat. Understanding where the fear comes from gives me empathy and ability to communicate more effectively to alleviate those fears.
The thing is, as humans, we are very much influenced by what “the rules” are. There have been multiple studies on how we as society often mindlessly obey authority. Maybe not mindlessly, but even in circumstances where our gut tells us it’s the wrong course of action, we still follow the crowd.
Doing What Others Won’t- Do It Scared
Be honest. How often do you dare to think outside the box?
“Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it always needs to be done that way.”
Doing it the way it’s always been done isn’t always the answer, even in circumstances where it has worked previously. And it’s scary to go against the crowd. It’s scarier for the crowd to go against the crowd. They are being held by fear. It takes courage to step out of the crowd, to go against the flow, and color outside the lines. But if you can do it scared, if you can be that radiant exemplar to show others how thinking outside the box is not just an option, but totally okay, you can change more than your life. You can change the freaking world.
Big Idea #3- Own it to Conquer it
“Stop Waiting to Be Rescued: We live in a culture that idolizes heroes for their daring rescues and dramatic saves. In fact, the hero idea is so ingrained in our thinking that it is hard to imagine a story without one. The damsel in distress has a handsome prince. Cinderella has her fairy godmother. Every great story needs a hero. Right?Ruth Soukup, Do It Scared
The need for a hero and the desire to be rescued are ideas that permeate our everyday lives. Have you ever found yourself wishing you’d be noticed, or better yet, miraculously plucked out of your current state and dropped into a better one?
We don’t need a hero. You are not a damsel in distress! Waiting to be rescued won’t get you anywhere.”
Chapter 10 is all about adopting a “No Excuse” attitude towards obtaining our goals. Those with a Pessimist or Excuse Maker fear archetypes may find this idea pushing them outside their comfort zone. The Pessimist and Excuse Maker often use past failures or past events as reasons they can’t get a leg up in this world (most often, but not exclusive to these two archetypes). Most, if not all of those with this fear archetype have incredibly valid reasons. They experience extreme hardships, real problems, and genuine obstacles. But, as Ruth puts it, even a good excuse is still just an excuse.
It may not be our fault we are in the circumstances we are in. We may have no control over some of life’s events. But you know what we always have control over? How we respond and react to life’s events in which we have no control. That’s the true heroine’s story.
A Different Avengers
Which story sounds more exciting?
- Thanos comes to earth seeking the Infinity Stones. The Avengers meet him on a metaphorical battlefield and say “leave us alone, go away” and Thanos nods, apologizes, and leaves without even a word.
- The Mad Titan comes to earth seeking the Infinity Stones. Feeling afraid, the Avengers wish and pray for a savior. A mighty being comes out of nowhere, strikes Thanos down, and then leaves, never to be seen again, until the Avengers find themselves in another huge predicament they don’t know how to solve.
- Thanos comes to earth seeking the Infinity Stones. The Avengers do everything they can to defend Earth and all humankind, but ultimately Thanos gains possession of the stones and wipes out half the humans on the planet, leaving the Avengers broken, defeated, and mourning.
Be the Heroine of Your Own Story
The heroine’s story is epic and intriguing because it includes adversity and turmoil. If the path was easy, it wouldn’t be interesting, and no one would want to read it. In fact, for most of us, when we look back at the happiest moments of our lives, they are inevitably tied to some sort of struggle. Our proudest moments are the ones we’ve had to fight for the most.
It’s also interesting because it is the hero who must overcome the challenges. The idea of a Deus ex machina saving the day at the last moment is, for the most part, lazy writing. Sure, you can have a fairy godmother or genie, in the way of a role model, but it is someone you seek out for guidance. This is not the same as simply hoping for someone else to figure it out or just show you the way. When we are facing our fear, and the unknown, it’s nice to have someone who has been there, who gets it, and who knows what you are going through. Finding a role model who can guide you is not the same as waiting to be rescued.
When we take control over how we respond to situations and use adversity to make us stronger, we aren’t just getting good at being resilient, we grow anti-fragile, the true opposite of fragile. It’s even more than what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, it’s being grateful for those obstacles and challenges.
Take Control of Your Destiny
So, despite our circumstances, we need to own it, even if we aren’t at fault, and change something to give us back our control. If you are feeling stuck, do something—anything—differently, and take tiny baby steps towards getting “unstuck”. Stop giving yourself an out and instead push your way through, even if you have to do it scared.
Be your own hero, take ownership for your response-ability (ability to respond). And make a difference in your life, and the world around you.
Big Idea #4- There are No Mistakes, Only Lessons
“What I’ve realized along the way is that there are no mistakes, only lessons. Every wrong turn has somehow led me to where I am right now. Every misstep has led to what eventually became the right step. Have faith that current rough patches will be the future lessons to be eternally grateful for.”Ruth Soukup, Do It Scared
Life’s Lessons to Do It Scared
No one’s life is perfect. As I mentioned above, we want a hero’s journey, a life full of challenges. But we also only want that life as long as we learn from each mistake and failure.
Ruth shared some personal life lessons from hard experiences- Battling depression taught her that no matter how bad things get, there’s always a way out. Even if you hit rock bottom, there’s no place to go but up. Without dating a certain sleaze-ball, Ruth wouldn’t have met that sleaze-ball’s roommate and the man of her dreams. Even in a series of mistakes and bad shopping habits led to the beginning of Living Well Spending Less, which blossomed into a full-fledged business.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
I, too, look for the lessons in life. When I was trying to get into the animal care field, I tried out 7 times for the same entry level position. Each time they denied me, I learned from it, and grew. And it made me into a deeply passionate (albeit probably a little people pleasing) and hard-worker.
Trying out 7 times was difficult. Many times I wanted to give up and I battled depression as well. But as Ruth says “Within every breakdown is opportunity for a breakthrough, and even if we don’t know exactly what will go wrong or exactly which obstacles will pop up, we can be confident in knowing that something won’t go exactly as planned. As long as we accept these bumps along the way as an essential part of the process, they are a whole lot easier to bear.”
Win or Learn
With a mentality of Mistakes and Failures are just lessons, it means even when you “lose”, you actually win. What would your life look like if you reframed every experience as an opportunity to learn something instead of as “that time you messed up”? How freeing would it be if you believed in your heart of hearts that there is no such thing as a mistake?
Well? Win or learn? Or Win or Lose? The choice is up to you.
Big Idea #5- Action is the Antidote to Fear
“You will probably be scared. You will probably feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, at least some of the time. Maybe even all the time. But as long as you are committed to just keep trying, you will figure it out.Ruth Soukup, Do It Scared
It’s daring to set goals so big they scare us. Goals that make our chest tighten or our stomach flutter. Those are the goals that will motivate us.”
You want to truly conquer your fear and take control of your destiny? Ruth’s advice is simple. Action is the antidote to fear.
Seriously, do something, take that step, no matter how small towards your dreams. Yes, it’s scary. But that’s how you know it’s wildly important. You actually want those butterflies in your stomach and tightening in your chest. But you know what? When you do the things that scare you, you get better at doing things that scare you.
One Scary Thing
Earlier this year, I committed to doing one scary thing every day. It doesn’t have to be scaling mountains sized fear (I have an irrational fear of edges). At first, my scary things included a Fandom Fitness video posted on YouTube. But after a few posts, I enjoyed it. It no longer scared me. I knew it was time to take it up a notch. Sure I posted the video, but did I tell anyone about it? That was my next scary thing. Now scary things include reaching out to podcasts, scheduling presentations (believe it or not, scheduling the presentations is actually scarier to me than giving them). If it terrifies me, I thank the Stoic gods for the challenge and take that step towards fear.
Why Do It Scared?
How do you walk through those enormous fear doors? Well, Ruth and I 100% agree on the process.
Break it up and create an action plan. If action is the antidote to fear, then an action plan is your prescription.
The first step is to be very clear on your why. “It’s not enough to set big goals; we have to know why they’re important to us. Your why must be bigger than your fear.”
As Hal Elrod put it in Miracle Equation, we must develop Unwavering Faith and Extraordinary Effort to manifest our dreams. Having a clear and definitive reason for all your hard work, the struggles will help pull you through one fear door after another. You don’t have to be fearless, you just need to do it. Do it scared.
Plan to Do It Scared
After establishing why you are continuing on your journey, break the journey down into manageable chunks. Instead of “someday”, work on what you need to do this year, then from the year, break down your monthly goals, and then weekly goals and daily tasks.
Focus on making those small daily tasks a habit, something you do automatically without much thought. The more tasks, habits, and rituals we can put on autopilot, the more willpower we reserve for the other items, such as mustering the strength to sign up for the Open Mic, or contact that big lead for a podcast, book project, or presentation.
But it starts with that one step. Every great journey starts out as a first step. Find your passion, gather your plan and role models, and begin your journey. You got this! Take action and conquer the fear that holds you back. Do it scared, and be the brave warrior that lives within you.
Do It Scared, Bravely
That’s what I’ve got for this empowering book by Ruth Soukup. Ruth is a New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur. Her website Living Well Spending Less launched a business, blog, and podcast. She has over a million subscribers and has been featured in Woman’s Day, The Today Show, Martha Stewart Living, and Time Magazine. Find out more about Ruth and her programs, as well as pick up your copy of Do It Scared at ruthsoukup.com.
Quotes from Do It Scared
Action is the antidote to fear.Do It Scared
“I haven’t failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”Thomas Edison
“Eat a live frog every morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”Mark Twain
Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog elaborates “if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”
Start your day by tackling your hardest (ugliest) but most important tasks, and you will have already done a lot, even if you don’t do much of anything else for the rest of the day.
There is a fate worse than failure—far worse. A consequence of not trying that will ultimately haunt us far longer than the repercussions of making a mistake or the fallout from trying and failing. It’s the pain of regret. I’m convinced that nothing is quite as devastating as having to live with the long-term consequences of wishing you could go back and try again.Ruth Soukup
You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone but yourself.Ruth Soukup
I’ve finally taken the time to read your whole Zoo-Notable! I loved it! I didn’t realize that this book was so closely linked to my daily art practice. I do many of the things mentioned but others I really need to work on.
I could definitely commit to doing something scary every day, that would really get me out of my comfort zone.
I took the fear assessment and I’m 49% a People Pleaser. It makes since, I don’t want to let anyone down and when someone is angry at me it gnaws at my guts something fierce.
Breaking our feared actions into small steps is huge and a piece of wisdom that I try to live every single day.
Thanks for the note!
A great read. Good for you, let’s make a difference by doing the things that scare us.