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Not all fear is created equal: Read an excerpt from 'Do It Scared'

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An excerpt from my latest book, Do It Scared: Finding the Courage to Face Your Fears, Overcome Adversity, and Create a Life You Love.


The Fear Archetypes™

Over the past nine years, as I navigated my own fears and talked with many members of our communities, I began to recognize just how big of an impact fear has on our lives—especially for women.

It’s devastating to hear so many people in our community say they feel like they’re sitting on the sidelines of their own life, afraid to go all in, terrified of making a mistake, of letting people down, of failing, or of being laughed at. They see the things they’d like to do and yet don’t, simply because they’re too afraid.

But as I talked to more and more women about this topic, I also started to realize that not all fear is created equal. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’re all afraid of something. We all have fear, and we’re all impacted by fear in some way, but the way fear manifests itself in our lives varies greatly. One person fears failure, while another fears rejection. One person fears being held responsible, while another is paralyzed at the thought of getting it wrong, whatever “it” may be.

I decided I wanted to go deeper, and boy, did I ever! I surveyed more than four thousand people in my communities about the role of fear in their lives and then hired a team of researchers to help me analyze a staggering amount of data. I was particularly interested in finding out more about how fear holds us back from pursuing our dreams, reaching our goals, and chasing opportunities.

The survey asked questions about goals and life satisfaction, as well as questions about experiences of fear and adversity—about times when fear had stopped someone from pursuing a goal or a dream, and about times when someone had pushed through fear in order to accomplish something. Several of the questions were open-ended, and the stories people shared about their experiences ran the gamut from completely inspiring to utterly heartbreaking. Many of these stories are represented throughout this book, either as quotes from survey responses or as slightly modified stories and archetype personas.

The survey results were incredibly insightful in several ways, but one discovery stood out above all the others. In fact, the moment it clicked into place, it nearly took my breath away. What’s more, it made sense of so many confusing and unanswered questions. That aha moment was the discovery of seven fear patterns—seven distinct ways fear plays out in our lives, specifically in the way it impacts our willingness to step outside of our comfort zones to pursue a dream or opportunity. And because I like naming things (an obsession my team will readily attest to), I call these seven patterns “fear archetypes.” They include the Procrastinator, the Rule Follower, the People Pleaser, the Outcast, the Self-Doubter, the Excuse Maker, and the Pessimist.

And that’s where it really gets fascinating. Because, you see, while each of us possesses a few qualities of all seven archetypes, most of us have at least one dominant archetype that affects us more strongly than the others and plays out in our lives in more noticeable ways. Like fear itself, each of the seven archetypes has both negative and positive qualities—traits that can either hinder us or help us.

The fact that everyone experiences fear differently means that the path to overcoming fear will also be a little bit different for everyone. Thus, knowing the specific way that our fear plays out—our fear archetype—is essential to knowing exactly how to move past that fear.

Understanding the unique and specific ways in which fear might be holding you back is a critical first step in being able to overcome that fear. Head to the Do It Scared Fear Assessment to take a quiz that will tell you exactly what your fear archetype is, and how it can manifest in your life.

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