Every day there are two warriors inside you, and they fight to control your feelings, thoughts, and actions. Those two warriors are fear and faith. And the one you feed the most is the one who wins each day. Your positive thoughts and actions feed faith. Your negative thoughts and inaction feed fear.
In The Karate Kid Part III, Danielson and Mr. Miyagi are in the sudden-death round of competition. Daniel is getting beaten pretty badly by Mike Barnes of Cobra Kai. The entire two-hour movie climaxes in the last five minutes as Mike gives Danielson an unfair and illegal leg sweep that renders him almost disabled. The audience gasps as Danielson crashes to the mat in agony, and most don’t believe that he’ll get back up again. Mr. Miyagi rushes to the mat to see about his prize student.
With pain rushing through his entire body, Danielson pleads with Mr. Miyagi. “I’m done, I’m done, it’s over, I’m afraid, it’s over, I’m finished, I just wanna go home now!” Mr. Miyagi, wincing in his face, says to his student, “Cannot, cannot, must not!” And then he says fourteen words that changed the course of my life personally and professionally way back when I was a ten-year-old kid watching the movie for the hundredth time. (Can you relate?)
He says to Danielson, “It’s OK to lose to your opponent, but you must not lose to fear!”
Danielson says, “OK, Mr. Miyagi, you want me to admit it—I’m afraid of him, all right, I’m afraid of Mike.” Mr. Miyagi silences his exhausted student with a firm “Ohe-ohe!”
He says, “Danielson, your best karate is still inside you. Now is your time to let it out!”
And in traditional mentor/teacher style, he drops the proverbial mic, walks off the mat back to the sidelines, and stares at his student from a distance to allow what he said to marinate long enough for Danielson to take action. Around that time, his opponent, Mike, rushes up to talk trash to Danielson, basically saying that his karate is useless and his teacher is a fake. He continues taunting Danielson by saying three words that personified fear for me and changed my life again. He said, “I own you . . . I own you, Laruso!” Mike, who represents fear to Danielson, says that he owns him! And I think that’s what makes Danielson mad enough to get back up again.
Quick question: Does fear own you?
I wonder what you need to hear fear say to you to make you get up and kick its ass.
We are going to hit on this a lot in this chapter, so get ready!
If you’ve seen the movie, you know what happens next. Long story short, Danielson gets off the mat and uses a special move that Mr. Miyagi taught him, gets the point, and wins the match.
In chapter 5, we did a deep dive into excuses and how excuses could easily be robbing you of living the remarkable quality of life that you desire. But excuses have a dad, yes, and his name is Fear! Over the years, I’ve learned that fear is the biggest stealer of dreams, visions, aspirations, plans, and ideas. Fear is what keeps most people—all over the world—from living their dreams, both personal and professional, at the highest level possible.
I say our kickstand because I still deal with fear every single day. So don’t let anyone, (no matter how successful you perceive them to be) make you think that they have magically found the cure for fear. Fear is in your DNA. It’s like adrenaline; it’s just a part of our human makeup. You can’t get rid of the emotion of fear, but you can leverage it, and you can replace the fears that have held you back—with faith! You can, should, must do that.
Fear has gotten the best of me many times in my life, but one thing I’ve learned is that the feeling of fear and your body’s response to fear are not the issue. Fear will always show up at your house. The real question is, will you open the door, invite fear in, and let it stay in your guest bedroom for hours, days, weeks, months, and years?
You can’t prevent fear from coming and knocking. But how long it stays with you is entirely up to you. Fear is a bully, and it constantly pushes most people around. But not you, and not any longer. Don’t let that bully in your house!
Trust me—any time you’re about to do anything new, different, special, rare, unique, out of the box, or just unfamiliar . . . fear will show its ugly face. It will come knocking—bank on it. Again, it’s how you entertain this guest that really matters.
I know a little about fear because for twenty years now, I’ve made a full-time living doing what people fear more than anything on earth. I’m sure you know that public speaking is considered by many around the world to be one of the top three fears that human beings have, and in some countries, such as the United States, it’s number one. People would rather get in a car accident, jump out of a plane, be bitten by a snake, or go on an impossibly steep roller coaster than give a public presentation. So not only did I have to overcome my own fears to succeed in this industry, but I’ve also had to help many others do the same through my programs and courses. During my four-day Full Throttle Experience annual conference, for example, we dedicate an entire day, called Fearless Friday, to this subject. We delve deep into helping attendees identify their fears, and we use extreme experiences to help people push past their fears and step boldly into their faith.
During this time, I’ve learned some amazing things about fear that have helped me personify it, deal with it, and leverage it to propel me and many others to remarkable futures.
1. Fear’s number-one job is to keep you safe. Rhonda Britten taught me this. She’s a remarkable friend of mine, and she’s a regular keynote speaker at Full Throttle. She’s considered a world authority on fear. She helped me understand that fear is only doing its job when it enters your life. Its job (according to itself) is to keep you safe. It’s to keep you alive. Its job is to help you survive. Because without the emotion of fear, you would not know how to sense and perceive danger. We need fear to help us avoid danger, but we don’t need it to keep us from success, which is exactly what it does for most people.
2. Fear knows everything about you. You’ve got to get this point. One of the reasons you need to study and understand the personality of fear is that it’s been learning and studying you your entire life. It knows a great many things about you. It knows what you like and dislike. It knows your childhood, your concerns, and your dreams. It knows your weaknesses and strengths and uses all that it knows about you against you to “protect” you. But as it’s protecting you, it’s limiting your life.
3. Fear is mentioned in the Bible 365 times. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, it’s pretty interesting that in one of the most globally popular and best-selling spiritual books of all time, the phrase “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” is mentioned 365 separate times. And there are 365 days in a year. For me, that’s a spiritual reminder every single day that we are to starve fear and feed faith.
4. Fear can be passed down to you from previous generations. Yep! You could be wrestling with the fear responses from your foremothers and forefathers. Research suggests that there is a genetic link to how fears and phobias manifest.1 So if you’re going to get fear from your ancestors, also get the faith of your ancestors to counteract it.
5. Fear thoughts are always limiting and based in lack, scarcity, or confusion. One question that I am always asked is, “Delatorro, how do I know when fear is talking to me versus when faith is talking to me?” And my answer is simple: Fear is always trying to restrict you. It’s always trying to get you to focus on what’s wrong—what’s not working, what’s wrong with a person, place, thing, or opportunity. Fear will always pump the brakes on the things you want. Faith, on the other hand, will always push the gas and roll the throttle and expand you, build you, edify you, and inspire you.
6. Fear takes many forms. Fear loves to disguise itself. It’s trying to get into your house, remember, so it wears different costumes, hoping you’ll open the door and give it room to hang out. For example, fear dresses up as stress and shows up in your life as stress so that you don’t attack it with the weapon of faith. Fear also loves to show up as anxiety so that you welcome it into your home with no problem. Fear also dresses up as indecision so that you don’t recognize it. When you can’t make a clear, confident decision about something or someone, know that fear is underneath. Don’t be fooled: notice that no matter how fear dresses itself, the costume—the disguise—is a less-than-ideal feeling or emotion.
7. Fear is learned behavior. This is very empowering. Watch this. When I ask audiences all over the world to yell out their most common fears, they give me a flip chart full of stuff. Collectively they name about twenty-five to thirty different fears. Which is awesome. Then I tell the audience that it’s a medical fact that as human beings, we were given only two fears at birth. And what’s funny is that in 95% of audiences, they never name those two biological fears—the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Just those two. All other fears are what we call learned behavior. In other words, somewhere along your journey, you were taught to fear rejection or public speaking or success or failure or popularity or spiders or roller coasters or whatever. Here’s the powerful part: if you can learn fear, you can also learn faith:
• Faith in your dreams
• Faith in your talents
• Faith in your future
• Faith in mentors
• Faith in your beliefs
• Faith in yourself
• Faith in your ideas
• Faith in your business acumen
• Faith in your goals
• Faith in your partner
• Faith in your children
• Faith in your growth and development
• Faith in your friends
I want to give you so much information about fear and faith that you’ll be able to navigate in life and business and succeed in spite of how fear tries to show up.
We talked about cognitive reframing, but I want to show you how it works with fear just as well as it works with excuses.
Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and author, wrote an article in Psychology Today reporting research that shows the top ten fears that hold most people back from the success they desire and deserve.2
1. Change. Change is good when your mindset toward it is great.
2. Loneliness. Invite yourself places; join groups, communities, and clubs and organizations.
3. Failure. You’re going to fail on the way to something big or small, so go big!
4. Rejection. To paraphrase John Fuhrman, When someone tells you no, that just means you should say “Next!3
5. Uncertainty. Learn to embrace the wisdom of the unknown and allow it to flow into your life.
6. Something bad happening. I’ve heard it said that approximately 85% of the things we worry about never happen—at least to most people!
7. Getting hurt or injured. Do all you can to implement precautions, while still enjoying the moment.
8. Being judged. People’s judgments about you are a reflection of themselves, not you.
9. Inadequacy. All high achievers feel “not good enough” at times. Execute anyway.
10. Loss of freedom. There is a freedom in achievement that you can’t find in mediocrity.
Fear is very slick. Remember, the thief in your house doesn’t want you to know that he is there, so fear will frequently disguise itself in the details of your life that feel accurate so that you’ll accept them. I think of this phenomenon as:
If you want to keep fear in check and prevent it from taking over your life, you’ve got to understand who is talking to you when you listen to the voices in your head.
Fear wants you to focus on the facts. Faith wants you to focus on the truth.
• Your fact might be that you have only $500 in the bank.
The truth is that you have a million-dollar idea that, if you act on it, will produce wealth in your accounts soon.
• Your fact might be that you’ve been married and divorced and feel as though you can’t get love right.
The truth is that you’re an amazing person, you’ve learned some valuable lessons, and your divine love will show up if you believe it and attract it.
• Your fact might be that you just moved to a new city, are slightly introverted, and feel as though you’ll never meet friends.
The truth is that you’re an incredible friend, and with the right social engagement strategies, social apps, and intentional attendance at the right gatherings, you could be more popular than ever.
Do you get the point? You have to separate facts (which fear uses to discredit and disqualify you) from truth (which faith uses to edify, motivate, and inspire you).
So the next time you start to doubt yourself regarding how you feel about something, ask yourself, “Right now, am I listening to the facts of my situation, or am I listening to the truth of my situation?”
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. —John 8:32, NLT
Here is your chance to actuate some of this amazing content and put yourself in the victory position in your life. I want you to list ten fears that you struggle with and how you respond to those fears. Please be as specific as possible. Here are some examples:
• I am afraid of drowning, so I don’t get in pools or go to beaches.
• I am afraid of wild animals, so I don’t go to parks, zoos, or theme parks.
• I am afraid of being hurt again, so I don’t commit to romantic relationships.
Yay! Great job! I am so proud of you, because we can’t conquer what we don’t confront, and we can’t confront what we don’t first identify. By making this list, you’ve taken a huge step toward turning fear into faith by giving your fears a name.
I am going to talk about the components of a motorcycle in chapter 10, but for now, I need you to think about fear and faith like this: fear is the brakes on the motorcycle of your life, and faith is the throttle. Faith will always propel you forward and cause you to take action. Fear will always restrict you and cause you to slow down, totally stop, and sometimes never even get started.
I’ve learned that the number-one cure for the fears on your list is to take action. But not just any action. It has to be consistent and imperfect action (CIA). Hence the “1% better” conversation in chapter 1, remember?
Can you take massive action? YES! Rock out. Do that if you feel led, but the problem with massive action is that most people don’t sustain it over a long period of time. So they take massive action for a moment, get a result, and then stop taking action, get lazy and/or complacent, and have to start all over again—because the result didn’t stick. Sound familiar? It happens all the time with weight loss, money, relationships, careers, and physical and emotional well-being. So I recommend that rather than taking massive action once or twice, you combat your fears by taking consistent baby steps that are imperfect! By now, you should be asking yourself why I am making such a big deal about the concept of imperfect action. I am so glad you asked.
You are a high achiever. I’ve spent my entire life hanging around and inspiring high achievers. High achievers love to take action, but also love to procrastinate on said actions until they can do them perfectly. Perfectionism is a huge issue that keeps most high achievers from attacking their goals and dreams as they should. So I say take imperfect action, because we live in a world where companies release imperfect products all the time and we buy them left and right, but we wait to put our greatness out into the world . . . trying to be perfect.
For example, let’s take the cell phone you have right now. Regardless of the company or brand, one thing I know with mathematical exactitude is that the manufacturer sold you that phone in imperfect condition. Why? Because the software that runs the phone has to be constantly updated. The apps you put on that phone have to be constantly updated, and every year a new version of the phone itself comes out, making the version you have obsolete. So simply by having enough faith to take imperfect action, the manufacturer created an imperfect product, marketed it to you, sold it to you in its imperfect state, made you install all the updates, made you buy the upgrades and accessories—all while using your money to fund its profits, bonuses, payroll, and continued research and development. Now that’s some gangster business. And it happens every day, all the time, all around the world. So take consistent imperfect action—CIA. In other words, be like a helicopter. Take off from where you are and make adjustments in the air as you fly.
Undoubtedly, you can and will live your dreams, manifest your vision board, top yourself consistently, and live life to the fullest. You simply must shift into a higher gear by starving your fears and feeding your faith.
• Growing up, I was afraid to get long parts in the church play because it was a lot of pressure to memorize all those lines.
○ Because I fed my faith, I became one of the most articulate and confident kids in my church, and performing developed a powerful skill within me to speak and present that I still use to this day.
• When I got to college, I wanted nothing more than to pledge a fraternity, but I was afraid of the process because I didn’t want to be hazed or mistreated.
○ Because I fed my faith, I tried out for the fraternity. I didn’t get accepted, and that was the best thing that could have happened to me, because although I was devastated initially, that rejection propelled me into student leadership, and I became one of the most respected student leaders on campus.
• I remember my second year working full-time at a preeminent university at the age of twenty-two while I was building my speaking career part-time. The time came for me to make the decision to quit that job and pursue my speaking career full-time. I was very afraid to take that leap of faith, because I knew that once I left, I would never again work at the university, nor would I ever work another “job” anymore. I was scared to death!
○ However, I fed my faith and took consistent imperfect action (CIA) toward developing my speaking business, surrounding myself with the right mentors and coaches. I spoke for every organization I could. I joined both Toastmasters and the National Speakers Association, and fifteen years later . . . I’ve written eight books, delivered over four thousand paid talks around the world, and am considered one of the best in my industry.
I could do this all day. The point is exactly the same ever time.
Feel the fear, but don’t feed your fears. Feel the fear and feed your faith with action, and roll the throttle! If you do that, you will live a kickass life . . . on your terms!
Here is your chance to actuate this content and get in the victory position in your life. I want you to list ten faith declarations to replace the statements you expressed earlier. Then begin to speak them out loud on a daily basis. Here are some examples:
• I will take a six-week swim class at the YMCA so that I can enjoy pools and beaches.
• Mother nature is beautiful, and park rangers keep me safe, so I can enjoy parks.
• I deserve an amazing, loving romantic relationship, and when I find it, I’m all in!
1. It’s OK to lose to your opponent, but you must not lose to fear.
If fear is the reason you are not executing on your dreams, replace your fear responses with faith responses.
2. Fear’s number-one job is to keep you safe. It’s just doing its job. Let it go work for someone else! Yes, let fear keep you from imminent danger, but not your important dreams. There’s an epic difference.
3. The voice of fear is always restrictive (the brakes on your bike). The voice of faith is always expansive (the throttle on your bike)
4. Each day that you live, there are two warriors inside you, fear and faith. And the warrior that wins the day is always the one that you fed the most. You feed fear with procrastination, worry, anxiety, doubt, and inaction. You feed faith with affirmations, declarations, action, positive thinking, learning new skills, and leveling up your life regardless of your resources.
5. The cure for fear is to take consistent imperfect action (CIA). Yep, call the CIA on your fears, and they will disappear!