About This Episode
We all have fears and anxieties that hold us back. Some of those fears are what psychologists call “real fears”—fears that we need to slow down for, stop for, or avoid because they will put us in danger. But most of the time, our fears are “toxic fears." These fears can hold us back from living our lives to the fullest and achieving things that we want and that we deem important.
When the moment comes for us to step up, how can we move with courage? And instead of waiting to be thrown into situations that force us to be brave, how can we be more proactive in practicing courage in our daily lives so that we are better prepared for it when the moment arrives?
That’s what Scott Simon, coach, speaker, and founder of the Scare Your Soul courage movement and our guest for this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, a SUCCESS magazine podcast, shares with us today.
We talked about his book, Scare Your Soul, the seven principles he outlines for living a courageous life, and how we can live more courageously grateful lives, one small act of courage at a time. Make sure to check out his book, which is available on Amazon and narrated by Scott himself on Audible. Let’s dive right in.
The thing about fear
The most common misconception most of us have is that to have courage means to lack fear. Scott tells us that is not the case.
Fear is one of humans' most primal emotions. It is wired into our DNA and is part of our survival instincts.
“It is not something we can conquer; it is not something we can crush; it is not something we can obliterate,” Scott shares. “It is there, first and foremost, to keep us safe.” At least that is the case for “real” fears, such as learning not to touch a hot stove or watching out for cars when we cross the street when we are young.
But there are the fears born from the stories we tell ourselves, such as the fear of the unknown, of change, of failing, of being judged or looked down on, and of not being good enough. Psychologists call these irrational fears or “toxic” fears, and we all have them to varying degrees.
These are the fears that hold us back from putting ourselves out there, trying new things, and living our lives to the fullest. These are the fears that we learn to overcome with practice and courage.
“Courage grows stronger the more you exercise it,” Scott says. “I think knowing what fear is and how it operates in our bodies is the first step.”
The goal is not to eradicate our fears and anxiety, but to acknowledge that they are there and push through despite the fear; that is when we are truly courageous. Scott challenges us to learn how to dance with our fears without letting them keep us stuck in fight, flight, or freeze mode. We do that by building the “courage muscle” with practice—doing one thing every day that scares you and pushes you out of your comfort zone.
“It’s not avoiding it. It’s not getting rid of it. It’s allowing it in, but not allowing it to stop you,” Scott says.
This trains us to get used to uncomfortable situations and helps us take action faster. And, according to Scott, “The things that make us really happy are the things that are on the other side of fear.”
Focus on the process
One of the most common fears a lot of us share is the fear of failure. Especially for entrepreneurs who are called to innovate in the industries that they are in.
“The truth is, if we are going to lead an audacious, interesting, adventurous life, we’re going to fail… The more times we put ourselves out there—the more new ideas, new inventions, new relationships—they are going to lead to moments where the outcome isn’t what we want,” Scott shares.
His advice is to not get so caught up on the outcomes and welcome failures as opportunities for learning and gaining new experiences—experiences that we otherwise wouldn’t have if we were too scared to try.
“When we focus on [the] outcome, we miss the opportunity to try things, connect with people, forgive people, be grateful in ways that require courage,” he adds. In this society that values extrinsic rewards (money, status, likes, and clicks), we often mistakenly equate those things to happiness. But the real gift, according to Scott, is the adventure.
“I really believe that a happy life is a life full of adventure, full of forgiveness, full of gratitude. Full of pushing ourselves each and every day,” he says. “When we do those things, we become better humans, better role models for our kids, more caring individuals to our parents and the older generation.”
Life is short, and it happens so fast. Scott aims to wring everything out of life that he possibly can, doing one thing that scares him one day at a time.
It takes a village…
Of the seven principles he’s outlined in his book: gratitude, adventure, energy, forgiveness, awe, work, and curiosity, each of us might be called to focus on one or a few of them. And the challenges are different for every one of us.
Some people find that getting out of bed in the morning or holding hands with someone for five minutes in a mall might be the bravest thing they can do for themselves that day. For others, it could be sharing their ideas in a meeting, talking to their boss, or even buying a stranger a cup of coffee.
We all have different challenges and fears we want to overcome, and it takes a village to help us do so. Sometimes all we need are accountability partners to spur us on, inspire us, and support us as we keep acting courageously. A scary thing is easier to face when we know we are not doing it alone and we see others struggling with it and overcoming it.
That’s why the Scare Your Soul movement has played a large role, not just in the book but in hundreds of people’s lives around the world—people who just want to push themselves a little bit and “lead a life where they are not stuck somewhere because of fear.”
Join the Movement
If you are interested in taking part in the challenge, visit ScareYourSoul.com. You’ll find a quiz there to help you identify which of the seven principles you can dive into first, as well as resources and challenges to help you lead a courageous life. Scott also put an audio sample of his book, Scare Your Soul, on the website. You can grab your own copy of the book on Amazon, and it is also available on Audible.
DISCLAIMER: The people interviewed are well-trained experts and highly skilled in their areas of practice. They take many safety precautions prior to attempting the activities described. The activities or research discussed in these podcasts should not be attempted without qualified supervision and training with professionals.