To Overcome Your Life’s Biggest Obstacles, You’ll Need to Learn How To Use Fear as Fuel. Here’s How.
“What you hear in the forest but cannot see might be a tiger…but it might not be, either…perhaps you’ll see that it’s just a squirrel. Something is out there in the woods. You know that with certainty…but if you refuse to look, however, then it’s a dragon, and you’re no knight. You’re a mouse confronting a lion; a rabbit paralyzed by the gaze of a wolf.”
“Even what is terrible in actuality often pales in significance compared to what is terrible in imagination.”
-Dr. Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules For Life
Evolving into a new person is more important than the obstacles you overcome in the process.
You can finally earn a million dollars, or quit your terrible job and tell your terrible boss to suck it. You can lose 50 pounds, date a supermodel, buy a Tesla, or finally show your parents that yes, you were a success.
All these are great. But what’s more important is the person you become along the way.
The problem is, becoming a new person requires you to face bigger and stronger fears. Most people are unwilling to face these fears, let alone learn from them.
I have a client who created a new online product. He gave it everything he had. On the phone, he told me something really special:
“I’m afraid. I’m afraid because this is my absolute best. This is it. And I hope it’s good enough.”
My heart swells just thinking about that. It’s something most people, frankly, won’t ever do —give their best work and admit that’s all they’re capable of. Because what if it isn’t good enough? What if your best, your absolute, no-B.S. best effort still isn’t good enough?
It’s a scary prospect.
But if you want to overcome your life’s biggest obstacles, you’ll have to face those fears. And not just face them — learn from them. Because that’s the secret about evolving into something truly extraordinary: you have to sacrifice more than most people are willing to give up. As Srinivas Rao wrote:
“If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of a normal one.”
As someone who’s made a habit of facing his biggest fears and seen ridiculous success in the process, here’s how to learn from your fears so you can overcome your life’s biggest obstacles.
You Can’t Get to the Next Level Until You Learn the One Thing You Need To Learn
“The process is testing you as well as teaching you. If you pass the test and learn the lessons, you get to go on to your next process. If you fail a test and quit rather than retake the test, the process spits you out.” -Robert Kiyosaki
As the old saying goes, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
It’s not fair, actually. How much more do you have to learn? When is “enough” enough? Why do you always have to keep learning?
You don’t have to keep evolving. I take breaks all the time. Last year, I read 52 books in 52 weeks. This year, I’m barely hitting 20. Why? Because I’ve been playing video games instead, and I’m loving it.
But as C.S. Lewis phrased it, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
You don’t have to keep growing all the time. But eventually, you’ll reach a time where you have to evolve. And you can’t evolve until you’ve learned the thing you need to learn.
What is the thing you need to learn? Today, this week, this month, this season:
What‘s the one thing you need to learn right now?
Perhaps it’s a technical skill (how to design your website or draft a sales letter). Maybe it’s an emotional skill (how to be more patient with your spouse). Or maybe it’s even a spiritual skill (how to pray and connect with God).
Whatever it is, you can’t get to the next level without learning it.
You can try, but it won’t end well. Once when I was desperately broke and unemployed, I gave a highly-exaggerated series of answers during a job interview.
The good news? I got the job. The bad news? They fired me on the second day because it was obvious I wasn’t qualified.
(On my way out, I just awkwardly waved to my coworkers, knowing they’d never see me again).
What do you need to learn? How much time and money do you need to invest to learn that skill?
There are really only a few key activities you can do that truly move the needle. What are those activities? What do you need to do to learn them?
These aren’t easy questions to answer (and your answers will change over time).
But you have to answer them if you want to move forward and reach new heights.
The Question Isn’t If You’re Capable of Making Your Dream Life (You Are). The Question is: Are You Willing?
For 4.5 years, I was a no-name blogger with a huge dream of becoming a successful writer who could work for himself.
But that’s all it was: a dream.
All the other no-name bloggers and I would hang out, online and in-person, and complain about how hard everything was: it was hard to get noticed, to make money, to learn SEO, to wake up to zero views for the 1000th time.
I truly believed achieving my dream life was basically impossible. I believed if you wanted to be a successful writer, you had to either be 1. Already rich, or 2. Already famous.
Eventually, I got sick of all the failure. My wife and I moved to South Korea to teach English. I knew if I didn’t become a successful writer there, I’d have to come back to America and go back to my horrible job.
So I decided to become a great writer.
After less than a year of being consistent and focused, prioritizing learning over entertainment:
- I gained over a million views, and tens of thousands of new email subscribers
- I was offered a signed book deal
- I was making thousands of dollars a month
- I was building an enormous fan base
- I quit my job and started working 100% for myself
The question isn’t whether or not you’re capable of making your dream life (you are).
The question is:
Are you willing to do what it takes?
Looking back, I was afraid to do the work. During the first 4.5 years, I wasn’t really willing to do whatever it took to succeed. I wasn’t willing to buy online courses and learn new things, to hire a coach and take feedback, to wake up early and stay up late learning real skills.
Finally, I became ready. Everyone reaches that point on their own time; for me, it just took 4.5 years of failure and frustration.
It’s never been easier to succeed and become a truly extraordinary story of triumph. All the world’s information and the best advice by the world’s most qualified teachers is available on Amazon for cheap, or Google for free.
What do you prioritize right now: learning and education? Or entertainment and distraction?
Choose learning. Choose to become willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, and you will.
Everything You Want Is On the Other Side of Fear
I used to see big shots and with a mixture of jealousy and awe, I’d think, “Wow. I wish I could be like them.”
I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to hang out with them, and be accepted as one of their own.
Now that I’ve gained some moderate success as a writer, making six-figures from my business and rubbing shoulders with some writers I’d idolized for years, I realize something:
Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
And most of the time, these “big shots” are just the people who either worked harder than anyone or confronted bigger fears than anyone.
It’s actually not that hard to be consistent, to start working towards something big.
What’s hard is doing it every day.
Consistency will make you feel like a loser. Putting in the work day in and day out is scary, because most people might not understand it.
That’s OK. If you want what most people don’t have, you need to do things most people aren’t willing to do. As Darren Hardy wrote, “Successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.”
It’s not enough to just face your fears — you must learn from them. If you learn more than anyone, you can have more than anyone.
Choose to focus on learning. Don’t let others define your reality.
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