6 months. 1 fear. Are you ready to lean in?
If you could overcome any fear that you have in the next six months? What would it be?
Think about it. Write it down.
It doesn’t have to be public. It can be big or small. But it should be real. It should come from the real, vulnerable you.
But write it down, stare at it.
Mine (now revised after some reflection), is losing the momentum for changes that I want to make in my life after The Bold Academy.
You can overcome any fear, whatever it may be, but to do that you need to do two things:
1) Pick date that you must smash that fear by (so six months from you reading these words).
2) Find someone to hold you accountable to overcoming your fear by that date.
The template above you can use for conquering just about any fear that you have. The following story is how we used this question and template on a random morning in San Francisco to bring joy and delight to hundreds of passers by.
We looked back at this space like we couldn’t believe what just happened - what we’d just done. Five hours earlier this space had looked just like it did now. But taking a look now, we realized that we’d made a difference in the lives of over 400 people and whoever else they came in contact with. Whoever else they shared this story with.
The Bold Hustle
I recently took part in a 10-day personal accelerator called The Bold Academy. Sixteen Bolders, as we were called, plus staff, lived in a mansion in Alamo Square, San Francisco, for 10 days. We listened to talks, examined and reexamined our lives and the work that we want to do, took part in workshops, had some amazing soul talks, committed to changes we were going to make after Bold and found someone to hold us accountable to those changes.
On day six, we were divided into four teams of four and told to create a project that would make the most impact on the world in 24 hours. This was The Bold Hustle.
After a very long night of brainstorming, bad ideas, phone calls to Bold mentors, some iteration and some short naps, Alex, Betsy, Maíra and I came up with The Love Your Fear Project.
We left the Bold house around 7:30 in the morning. We called a Lyft and when the driver pulled up, I told him about our project and asked if he’d be willing to donate a Lyft ride for our project. He agreed (his fear was being burned alive) and drove us over to the Kelly Paper Store where we picked up a 500 foot roll of paper and then over to The Ferry Building where had breakfast and set up for the day.
During breakfast we froze, a moment called The Flinch that everyone experiences before a big decision or event. Thoughts raced through our minds and out loud. “What if no one wrote anything down?” “What if we looked like a bunch of asses standing out there.” “What if this didn’t work?”
We left breakfast. We showed up. We rolled out 15 feet of paper, put a few sharpies down, wrote the prompt that you see above and wrote down our own fears.
And then something happened: people started coming up and asking us what it was we were doing. Asking if they could participate. We experimented with different tactics for approaching people. I found that the best way to get people to write down a fear they wanted to overcome was to stand behind the paper, let them take a look at it, introduce myself and the project, tell them my fear and then ask them to participate.
Before we knew it, we were rolling more paper out to make room for more fears. We set a goal of hitting the first pillar of The Ferry Building with our roll.
People, without much prompt, without knowing who we were or why were doing this in most cases, started sharing incredibly intimate, vulnerable things with us:
People shared some incredible fears: A Prime Minister of a European country walked by with his staff and contributed one fear. A woman who was afraid of heights, a native San Franciscan, wanted to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. One man was afraid of being his own race (and gave specific examples why). Stoic businessmen who I never thought would be interested in participating in something like this were. Sometimes they came back and brought friends who contributed. Runners stopped to scribble something down before they ran off again. Commuters. Teenagers. The lunch crowd. Tourists. Husbands, wives, sons, daughters. Your loved ones.
We were interviewed for the San Francisco evening news. We talked to three security guards from the Ferry Building and two from the Port Authority, the last one made us leave.
Betsy, Alex, María and I were kicked off of Ferry Building property at around 1pm just after reaching our goal of rolling our paper full of fears past the first pillar in the middle of the building.
We went home humbled by what we’d just done and the people’s lives that we’d touched.
**It’s hard to measure the exact impact that we made through this project. Whatever it was exactly, I’m proud.
435 fears on 245 feet of paper contributed by people from 23 countries, on six continents, all in just over four hours.
We ended up winning The Bold Hustle but more importantly, we proved to ourselves that in a short amount of time we could come up with an idea, feel the Flinch, push past it and build a project that truly changed lives.**
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