social media viewpoints Have you got a great idea on your to-do list, but it’s been there for a while?

Is there a podcast, article or video you’d love to create, but for some reason you haven’t?

If so, you aren’t alone.

Most of us struggle bridging the gap between our desire to be creative and the act of actually creating something.

Keep reading as I explore the roots of why we don’t create and to discover what you can do to make stuff happen.

You Shouldn’t Do That…

I remember the day I submitted a draft of a paper that shared my best tips. My editor asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” With that simple question I let doubt creep in.

More recently I was reviewing feedback from a presentation I gave. Of all the positive reviews, the one that struck a blow at my confidence went something like this, “You don’t really need to keynote your own event.”


Preparing for my keynote at Social Media Marketing World 2013.

Isn’t it funny how one little comment can destroy our path to creativity?

And sometimes it’s not even doubts from other people, but rather a repeating voice in our minds that says, “No one will listen” or “I’m not good enough.”

As I study what stops people like you and me from making progress in any creative project, I think there are two primary clusters of issues: fear and doubt, and the desire for immediate success (said another way, an unwillingness to do the work).

Whether you’re looking to make a video, write a blog post, record a podcast or start a new venture, you will hit road blocks. Keep reading to learn how to bust through the barriers to your success.

The #1 Reason We Never Start: Fear

Let me be brutally honest. I have a lot of fears and doubts.

When I started Social Media Examiner back in late 2009, I thought to myself, “No one will ever pay attention to some outsider who knows literally nothing about social media.”

And in truth, when I originally floated the idea of this blog to a few of my friends (who knew a ton more about social media), they didn’t express much real interest.

The idea of Social Media Examiner almost never came to life.


I had a lot of fears and doubts when it came to the launch of Social Media Examiner.

And I am facing the exact same fear with my latest blog, My Kids’ Adventures.

Here’s what I think: “I know nothing about how to have great adventures with kids because I can’t even do it with my own.”

Then there’s these thoughts projecting through my mind, “I’m a fraud,” or “I just can’t compete in a space so entrenched by others.”

In reality, these are the lies I tell myself. And sometimes, tragically, I believe them.

Can you relate?

What have you not yet started? What doubts are going through your mind?

Here’s the funny thing—it’s as if all of our past success is simply a house of cards. And all it takes is the wind of one limiting belief for the whole of our confidence to come crumbling down, flattened and back to square one.

But the truth is that you and I have overcome a lot more fear than we realize. We just need a bit of reminding and some solid advice.

How to Overcome Fear and Doubt

the war of art

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Steven Pressfield in The War of Art calls self-limiting doubts the resistance. Think of resistance as the enemy who wants to see you fail because if you win, then the war is over.

Resistance lives in your head and its primary mission is to make sure you never take a risk or try something new.

Pressfield explains, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

As I tell my 11-year-old daughter I’m writing this article, she says, “Seriously dad! Boring—like who’s gonna read that?” Another sign I need to finish this piece!

According to Pressfield, fear is actually a sign that needs to be reinterpreted. When you feel doubt, it means you’re heading down the right path.

Here are a few tips to help you overcome fear.

Tip #1: When doubt and fear creep in, you creep forward.

I was the most scared when I said, “But wait, there’s more” to a crowd of 1100 marketers in a crowded San Diego ballroom. I asked the tech guy to press “play.”

A short video—that had nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with creating fun memories with our kids—went on for two minutes.

This video was shown for the first time at Social Media Marketing World 2013.

I knew it was a massive risk and that it could bomb. But it didn’t.

You see, I was okay with failure. I knew if the video didn’t resonate with people I would not start My Kids’ Adventures. I had only recorded the scenes 10 days earlier. I put my heart and soul into that video. And people loved it.

That was April 2013.

After that video, there was no turning back. In my mind, I jumped into a big hole with no rope and no one to pull me out. I knew I was at the point of no return, and turning back was simply no longer an option.

I faced constant resistance. But I told myself these are simply signs I need to move forward.

mka screenshot

I had huge fears when it came to sharing my idea for My Kids’ Adventures at Social Media Marketing World 2013.

During the first 5 months since the launch, more than 140,000 people have visited the site. We’re on our way, although I’m still struggling to navigate into a new space and fear remains.

But one thing was clear, I knew that fear meant I needed to move forward.

Are you willing to embrace your fear and go for it?

Tip #2: Hang with people who’ve overcome their fears.

The advice of friends can be both a blessing and a curse.

In my own experience, few of my real friends have taken risks to start a business or venture into unknown territories. Most are not naturally risk-takers.

How about your friends?

When it comes to that next crazy idea you have, seek the wisdom of those who’ve taken risk and overcome their fears.

I found them among a small group of fellow podcasters and entrepreneurs. We meet online each week in a mastermind group.


The mastermind group helps us discuss our fears.

They know fear when they see it. They also know me enough to provide the right type of encouragement I need to push through my own doubt.

So consider joining or starting your own group of like-minded risk-takers that regularly meets. Alternatively you may want to hire a coach who can guide you past your fears.

When others who’ve ventured down unknown paths surround you, you’ll be inspired and motivated to give it a try.

Tip #3: Celebrate the little wins.

Create a journal of your successes. Your future self will thank you.

Our memory is the first thing we lose when we face fear and fail to move forward. When we actually think back, each of us has overcome so much in our lives to get to where we are now.

silhouette man jumping with open arms

Celebrate the little wins in life. Image source: iStockphoto

Remember when you first went out on your own, first drove a car, asked someone on a date, had your first child, first spoke in front of an audience or purchased your first home?

At the time, these may have all seemed out of reach or simply insane, but looking back they were preparing you for much bigger creative risks.

We recently had a staff meeting with our executive team at Social Media Examiner. Our heads are so down in the weeds working, we often forget to look up and see the progress that’s been made.

When I was able to review what was accomplished in the last 12 months, all the folks on our team were simply astonished.

What are your wins? Why not find a quiet place and start writing down all the accomplishments you have made thus far on your path?

It’s the little wins, the looking up and the looking back, that help us see we actually have nothing to fear.

Overcoming fear and doubt are only half of the challenge. There’s one more major reason we fail to create.

The Other Reason We Fail to Start: We Want Instant Success 

Once fear and doubt are put to rest, we must be willing to do the hard work to make our ideas come to life.

Everyone loves a success story. Stories of overnight success encourage and inspire us. The problem is that most are lies. The veil of overnight success often covers up a decade or more of work.

The reality is that nearly every successful artist, blogger, podcaster, speaker or creative person has refined their craft through years of trials, failures and setbacks.

We must be willing to do the work if we want to be creative.

Here are two tips to help you get started on your next creative idea:

Tip #1: See the future outcome.

I think the main reason we don’t do creative work is because we haven’t clearly visualized the reward or outcome of finishing. Said another way, we lack the vision to see what could happen if we move forward and create.

risk amp reward ahead

Think of the reward, when you take a risk. Image source: iStockphoto

Just ask yourself a few questions when thinking about what could be if you start creating:

  • What rewards will come if I create?
  • What will my creation enable me to do that I have not been able to do before?
  • Who will I be able to impact with my creative work?

By pondering the above questions, you should be able to visualize some clear benefits of your idea. Write those outcomes down and review them often.

Tip #2: Understand the cost.

Another challenge is to understand the costs of your idea. Once you know what could be achieved if you create something great, wrap your mind around the investment and needed sacrifice.

Be real about the work needed to make your idea come to life. Don’t be fooled that you’ll be the one who achieves overnight success. It simply isn’t how the creative process happens.

Time is usually the biggest cost of getting creative. What are you willing to sacrifice to make something great?

Grab a pen and paper and start figuring out the costs. Remember the rewards.

pen with calculator and a notebook

Start writing the costs down. Image source: iStockphoto

After you’ve gone through these exercises, you’ll be ready to move forward and slap fear in the face. Are you ready?

Closing Thoughts

Do you have fear and doubt? If so, welcome to the human race—we all do.

Use fear as the green light to move forward. Seek the wisdom of those who’ve taken risks. Celebrate the wins you’ve had to help you bravely step out.

Once you’ve controlled your doubt, be sure you clearly know the potential rewards of your creative idea. Wrap your mind around the sacrifices you’ll need to make.

With a clear vision and fear properly reined in, you can do anything.

What do you think? What’s holding you back? I’d love to hear your comments below.

Images from iStockPhoto.
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  • Fear is a natural reaction to risk. While risk is real and external, fear exists only in our imagination. Fear is the workout we give ourselves imagining what will happen if things don’t work out.

  • Well said Patrick

  • John Zacheus

    This is really good and true,am a young and talented soccer player, for me i have been fighting myself on my height and family situation i live with fear and doubt ,i have a dream to become a professional soccer player but every time i look back at my current situation,height,financial status and corruption in my country i look down and want to give up,on the field of playing(soccer)i have fear that i can’t beat my opponent or i can’t do more than what i got i mean my skills and techniques,i also fear to talk to a girl but inside of me am bold,courageous and fearless i can’t really put this into practice due to failure,disgrace and rejection.
    Have been living on this since i was young,though my growing up was tough,please i really need more advice and guidance to conquer this and move on with my life,soccer career and Education,though i have no one to sponsor my soccer career and also have been dreaming to Play College soccer in USA,but i ask myself “How did i want to get to USA,having no One”.

  • Daniel Smith

    Unfortunately, no one can help you walk your own path. If you are talented, then you’ve already won half the battle. Hard work and determination will take you the rest. My brother has made a great success of himself and we come from humble backgrounds. His favourite quote is “The harder you work, the luckier you get!”. Remember, you are not alone. Everyone feels the same way at some point in their lives. Just believe in yourself and work hard, the rest will follow.

  • Celebrate the little wins! Good advice indeed. Content marketing is a damn hard slog these days and often it feels like there is very little direct reward, and whilst measurable results might show growth and a positive trend, unless a piece of content goes viral, results are rarely exceptional. Focusing on all the little wins (mentions from other professionals or websites that you admire or look up to for example) can help keep you on the right track.

    Hearing someone I respect professionally talking frankly about fear and failure is refreshing! Thanks Michael 🙂

  • Great post Michael, i think its true to say we all suffer from this from time to time, some more than most. Its what makes us human, after all. I’ve got this quote printed and hung on my workspace wall:

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Bene Gesserit, Dune (by Frank Herbert)

  • Thanks Steve. And I agree some face fear more than others. I think anyone who is thinking of trying something new struggles with this the most. I like the quote about letting it pass, because indeed it does… 🙂

  • Hey Shell – And I think you hit a key point on the head. Results are rarely exceptional in life and in business. The hope of virality is similar to the idea of an overnight success. It just doesn’t happen often. Instead we need to “slog” as you suggest and look back every now and again and see how far we’ve gone.

  • I can’t tell you how to play soccer. But I do suggest you pick up a copy of The War of Art. I think the first half could be real helpful John.

  • Daniel, well said “Remember, you are not alone. Everyone feels the same way at some point in their lives.”

  • Really enjoyed you putting yourself out there for this, Mike. Reads like you were deep in the flow.

  • Great article Mike.

    I recognize some of the key takeaways here from Launch.

    For me dealing with my Fear has been about learning to ask the right questions. Do I have full control of my Fears, absolutely not.

    In my new favorite book the 4-Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss really put out some awesome and thought provocative questions. Scariest exercise I ever done, and it is for sure pushing you way beyond your comfort zone.

    But I have made up my mind that I am going to make a major Shift in 2014. And it is all about doing the scary things that I never done before.

    It is hard to pin point sometimes what has been holding me back, But I believe in many situations I became my own worst enemy. It is much easier to play the blame game, instead of recognize your own faults.

    I believe what Tim is telling me is to start to take actions today on the things I fear the most, these actions is what really will make real shift for me.

    Thanks for sharing Mike. Keep on rocking with your projects.


    Are Morch
    Hotel Bloger

  • I think being organized is key. Otherwise all of your ideas are fluid and harder to take action on and much easier to just procrastinate. I use Evernote to brainstorm, track ideas, and keep a monthly goal list. Then, for each week, I use Trello to set daily and weekly goals. (If you’ve never checked out Trello, you must!! It’s just boards & cards you move around to stay organized.) You could also use Evernote to track your successes to re-visit when you need a kick in the pants.

    One thing on my Trello board right now: Write a guest post for “My Kid’s Adventures.” 🙂 Already approved by Jennifer Ballard. 🙂 The blog a brilliant idea and a solution to help parents who are entrepreneurs and can easily get sucked into working ALL the time. I for one really, really appreciate it and my kids have even checked it out. They’re waiting for all the snow to melt in Michigan so we can do the Minecraft treasure hunt in the backyard! LOL!

  • owenhemsath

    That’s awesome that you’re going for it!

  • owenhemsath

    My coach recommended this book too so I putting it on my list for March.

  • owenhemsath

    I’m def an Evernote user but I’ve been meaning to check out trello(?)

  • owenhemsath

    Plan the costs! Good to know since I’ve been breaking down the cost of my goals for the last week! Haha, glad to know that time is not being wasted!

  • Daniel Decker

    Great post Michael. Thank you for your honesty and advice.

  • Just avoid the second half as it gets a bit out there. First half is gold

  • Thanks much Todd. I worked on it over the holidays and it came together nicely I think

  • Thanks Are and great to hear you have some new ideas cooking 🙂

  • Hey Robyn – Thanks for sharing those cool tools. And more importantly thanks for contributing to My Kids’ Adventures!

  • Now make it happen Owen!

  • Thanks Daniel

  • Shelia

    I’m certain you wrote this specifically for me! I can SO relate — especially to Wanting immediate success — this is a big one if you’ve had a successful company before and expect the same results. Great post!

  • Thanks Shelia – I “did” write it just for you 🙂

  • Yep, it’s great! You can find it here: I have different boards for different projects but I have one board called “Today” and one called “This Week” and I just drag and drop (or use the “Move” function if you’re not on the same board by right clicking) as I need. Each of those boards has a “To Do” “Doing” and “Done” board so I can move things around so I know what I am doing, what’s coming up and what I just finished! It’s pretty straightforward but let me know if you have any questions!

  • Michael, thanks so much for this. Really resonated and clarified the real reason I don’t launch more…FEAR of failure. EAch day/week/month I set aside time for product development but it never happens because my sub-conscience engineers busy work to protect my latent fear. Dude- not any more 🙂 thanks man. –Aaron

  • Looking forward to your article, Robyn! So glad you’re going to share it with My Kids’ Adventures. Thanks for the organization tips. I’ll be checking those out.

  • Thanks for the message, Mike! Fear is an obstacle to so many great ideas. Your article reminds me of a good quote I heard recently: “Failure is just proof that you tried.”

    PS: I’m REALLY glad you took the risk with My Kids’ Adventures! 🙂

  • Great to connect with you Michael! You’ll have to be on the lookout for a very unique computer scavenger hunt idea in about 6 weeks-ish.

    Just an idea for you, if you haven’t thought of it, is to create a section of the website specifically for kids (at their reading level, things catered to them, etc). When my 9yo heard me tell my husband that I’d be guest posting for the site and how you had this cool Minecraft scavenger hunt for the backyard, he flipped! (My kids are REALLY into Minecraft). The 9yo wanted me to pull the blog up right then. The 7yo (who is still mastering reading) was standing right over his shoulder looking at it. They were checking out the activities to see what THEY wanted to do. So there’s a demographic you might not have thought of! 😉 They’ve read it more than once, as well as just talked about it! 🙂 It would not shock me if they told their Minecraft friends at school about it (although they wouldn’t know to share the url). Just an idea that I know my kids would love and another way to help the site grow!

  • Great post, Michael. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your own insecurities. I love the interpretation of doubt by Pressfield. Working through that is absolutely a challenge- I experienced it recently when trying to write my first contributed blog piece. After editing a thousand times and convincing myself that it was good, I received the same feedback and it really was all worth it.

  • Great article and great timing! I am mulling over my “fears and doubts” about approaching some rather large corporations for sponsorship of my families latest, greatest adventure! Looking forward to checking out your new site and I loved your video. You will never regret any decision that brings you closer to your kids… childhood doesn’t last forever!

  • Melinda Todd

    Good advice. Now to take it 🙂 I fear looking like an idiot. I need to just realize, it happens sometimes, whether I’m trying or not. LOVE the kid site.

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great tips!

    I’ve learned to feel the fear and do (fill in the blank) anyway. You won’t know unless you try. What’s the worse that could happen? You fail. Einstein failed thousands of times. It’s not a big deal. Either try something new, or discover new ideas and ways to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish.

  • If only someone would sit me down in a coffee shop and tell me this stuff.

    One way I have found that works to get past fear is to treat it like the peak of a roller coaster. Scream all the way down, and convert the adrenaline from fear into the thrill of a good time.

  • Thanks Robyn for your ideas

  • There you go talking in code Erik. Indeed we did have that chance to sit down. Hope the message resonated

  • Thanks for the note on Einstein, I did not know that.

  • Thanks Melinda – Just make sure you have a clear vision of where you want to go. Then the fear of looking bad won’t really matter as it’s a small price to pay

  • Thanks Lisa! Keep me posted on your new adventure (especially if it involves kids)

  • You go Sarah! Congrats on pushing through

  • I kid! Thank you again for the time. It resonated very well, as you will continue to see.

  • Thanks for your words Jennifer and for taking the plunge in My Kids’ Adventures with me!

  • Fire those engineers Aaron! It’s time for a new crew 🙂

  • RivkaK

    This was a great article! I have definitely been there before. Right now I think I have gotten past the fear thing and am struggling to overcome the tyranny of the urgent over the important. You have kids too so know how that effects things! Would love your insights on that someday. 🙂

  • Yea, when I start a new podcast for My Kids’ Adventures I am sure I will address this

  • RivkaK

    That would be great! 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing such an inspiring article, Michael! My journey began while looking for a moms play group for my 10 year old son in “09, so I am somewhat of an accidental entrepreneur. My son who is about to be 16 years old is very proud of how positively our business has affected the lives of others and our own. Yes, fear does show up and like so many entrepreneurs, sometimes you run, walk or crawl towards your goals…. the point is to never give up. Thank you again for an inspiring article!

  • My new mantra: “When doubt and fear creep in,you creep forward.” Thanks for the motivation.

  • Glad to motivate Iris 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your story Michelle!

  • Lorie Farrell

    Fear equals Fuel if used correctly. Great post!

  • Trisha Richter

    Hi Michael,

    Perfect timing! I had actually just printed out the “Cult of DONE
    Manifesto” yesterday as I really needed some motivation to just get things
    done. It has been around for awhile but a fun look at breaking through some
    of what you talk about here and moving forward.

    As crazy as it seems, for some (me) there is sometimes even a fear of
    success. If you actually do get past the fear of failure and do something
    good then what? Will you be able to handle it? Will it be more
    work? Will you have time? Will you live up to peoples new expectations of
    you? Again it sounds crazy but hoping others have experienced this so I’m
    not alone in my neurosis?

    Thanks again for the great article!

  • Pauline Stockhausen

    This is very timely. Thank you

  • Robin Bermel

    Iris, I like that quote too. I worked really hard last fall to build a freelance business and website. It was overwhelming, and at times I was discouraged. I kept saying, “I’ll do what I can, when I can.” At a certain point, there was no turning back, and so little by little I plugged away at it. On Jan. 1, I landed my first client. A great way to start the New Year. Thanks for building the momentum Michael.

  • Gratis Solutions

    Excellent comments as we embark on the wondrous journey that will unfurl in 2014…!

  • Jen Cleaveland

    Thank you for this timely post. I tell my kids all the time to embrace the fear, look it straight in the eye, and imagine “What is the worst that can happen if I do this?” When they visualize that worst-case scenario it really helps to get over that fear and they are able to do amazing things.

    Now, if only I was able to embrace that fear and work through it. I am in the midst of a life-changing transition right now and those fears and doubts are looming large. Your post was very helpful for me, especially remembering that I am not the only one who has ever felt this way!

  • Congrats, Robin on starting your business and on landing your first client. My favorite memory since I started my business back in ’08 was when I landed my first client. Keep plugging away and there will be many more 🙂

  • When I see great articles like this about fear and doubt I harken back to the old Psychology classes on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Too many people are content with working to provide the basic necessities like food and shelter. It provides a sense of security through obscurity. Self actualization and self esteem means sticking you neck out and trying new things even if it does not work.
    Great message too about avoiding instant gratification.

  • Thanks Lorie!

  • Hey Trisha – I hear you. Fear manifests itself in so many ways. Keep at it!

  • Thanks Pauline, hope it helped

  • Thanks 🙂

  • And do remember all you have accomplished Jen and celebrate those small victories!

  • Thanks Matt 🙂 I took a lot of those courses in grad school…

  • Leslie

    Thanks for the post Michael. I was really feeling overwhelmed today so it came at a good time. After reading the post I wrote down the successes I’ve had during these last few months of working on my art career. Writing those down also reminded me of some hard won successes I had in my previous career in education. I think I’ll pin this post and my list near my work space so they will be nearby next time I need a jumpstart.

  • deb1221

    Thanks for the inspiration, Mike. I wasn’t familiar with Pressfield’s book but am well acquainted with self limiting doubts and the battles that ensue. How wonderful (and liberating!) to reinterpret doubt as heading down the right path. Great stuff!

  • Haven’t commented before but found this post quite inspiring (not that your other posts aren’t great as well!). I appreciate a post that is so real and goes a bit deeper than the 10 Ways to… I like your idea of writing down accomplishments and did something similar after the first of the year when reviewing last year’s goals and writing down how each had been met. But you have me thinking more specifically about doing this in regard to my stepping out more fully into my freelance work. Great job and thank you for a great go-to site!

  • Brent Applegate

    Nice, Mike! You guys have done such a great job reporting on just about every story in social media. It’s easy to lose site of the fact that the rise of SocialMediaExaminer itself is perhaps an even BIGGER story. Thanks for “pulling back the veil” on your journey to get here. That takes courage! Oh, and Steve Jobs would ALWAYS keynote his events, so don’t take any guff for that!

  • angieblackwell

    This post comes at a very good time for me and speaks to me deeply. Thank you.

  • Tim McSweeney

    Michael – a really inspiring & informative blog post!! Your honesty and openness speaks volumes for your integrity as a person – it’s encouraging to note that you have the same doubts as most people but have had the courage & determination to overcome them. I’ve tweeted it to my 1700+ followers and I hope they do the same!! Many thanks. Tim

  • Hi Mike! I really appreciate this post, as it shows so many truths about fear and doubt that many feel are things that “only happen to them”. Steve Jobs was never scared, right? Warren Buffet never had any doubts, right? Very, very wrong.

    As you pointed out in this post, fear and doubt are things we all face – it’s what makes us human. The difference between a. those who let fear and doubt hold them back, and b. those who push through it and work hard to achieve their dreams is the same difference between a. someone who wishes they could live their life doing something they love, and b. someone who actually is living their life doing something they love. Thanks for this!

  • Celebrating the little wins is crucial… and when fear comes in… fight back with action!

  • Glad it helped Leslie!

  • Glad it helped Deb 🙂

  • Thanks so much Amanda and I welcome your comments any time!

  • Thanks Brent and you know a lot more about the back story then most. And thanks for reminding me about Jobs! Love it and thanks for your past help.

  • Awesome Angie!

  • Thanks so much Tim, your kind words mean a lot!

  • Thanks Kate! Indeed we all need a reminder that we all face fear and doubt.

  • Amen Dain!

  • I hear you Stelzner. Once upon a time when I wanted to apply for an editing job (subject matter: social media) the executive editor said, “Tia, you don’t know anything about social media.”

    Truth is, I haven’t known anything about 99% of the non-fiction I write about. My abilities to find new angles, present difficult to understand (and even easy to understand) stuff in a fun, conversational way and marry ideas together to say things in ways they haven’t been said before (along with tenacious, deep dive research) is a talent I bring to every table.

    Squeeze every cent from your content!

  • Well said. Never let someone stop you from achieving your visual Tia

  • I really like the idea of just getting things moving by putting something together. No matter if its complete crap. Just do something. It will get your ideas flowing and get you past the hardest part of completing something…actually starting it.

  • Ashish Bhatnagar

    I often face fear when I go to VCs for getting my startup ideas funded. For overcoming fear I have a conversation with myself in my mind…And that conversation is something like this –

    “What’s the worst thing that may happen there? At most he may refuse to pay me…Am I going to die from it? Absolutely not…so why am I so scared? First of all I’m prepared enough that he’s not gonna refuse…but even if he refuses, still no problem. I’ll move on to another VC and that’s all. ”

    And soon I find that my fear has been minimized drastically…But yes Michael, the points mentioned in your post are also quite helping and I’m gonna use them from now on.

  • Thanks Jon! Now go do it 🙂

  • Another way to look at it is that you need to check a bunch of “I’m not interested” off your list so you can get through to the yes’s. Each no brings you one step closer 🙂

  • David Emil Henderson

    Thank you, Michael. I’ve been putting off a query letter for weeks, despite encouragement from a trusted adviser, simply out of fear of failing to write the best opening line. That’s one of many examples I could cite. Your timely article is the kick in the pants I needed.

  • Laura

    Great article Michael!
    I will definitely be creating a journal of my successes to look at when I am feeling discouraged. What a wonderful idea!
    Keep up the great work with Social Media Examiner, it is always one of the first blogs I check out to keep up to date with all the constant changes in social media. 🙂 Also good luck with My Kids’ Adventures!

  • It is amazing how we can receive all the praise in the world but we focus on that one negative comment. It’s nice to see it happens to other people.

    I have to say it is really amazing to see you share your fears this way. Especially being so transparent and allowing the world to see you doing the hard work of building a brand new platform in front of our eyes. No net. Most of us spend way too much time trying to hide our fears as if they are a weakness.

    I’ve been at this a long time and I know how paralyzing fear can be. But it’s amazing how powerful it can be when you face it. My biggest advances in my business have been motivated by fear. It can be a truly powerful weapon.

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!

  • Powerful, encouraging, prophetic. Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing from the heart.

  • It’s a battle between you and your worst and strongest enemy: ‘FEAR’. But
    what do we usually do when we’re in a battle? We make a plan, a
    strategy, and we choose our alliances. Then, we equip ourselves with the
    most reliable weapons and tools that we can find. Having these things
    in place helps build confidence and gives us the courage we need to face
    our enemy and start the war. On the battlefield, your passion will take
    you to your victory!

  • I feel so inspired by this that I’m printing this and will be putting this one up in our mini-office. We just started our company (Outsource SEO Philippines) a little less than a year ago, and so far, its been doing well. But yes, you’re right, about the fears and the doubts..even as simple as creating a daily content. 😛 I really can relate to what you said here, and the tips you gave here means a lot. thanks Michael! I love your podcast and I listen to it every week! I’ve always wanted to send in a question, but I was afraid I might sound silly. 😀

  • Well so glad this was helpful. And don’t hesitate to send in your question for the show here:

  • Love it, Mike. Especially your point about the future. Jim Rohn often spoke about the “awesome force” the future can have on our lives:

    “The future is promise. This promise is an awesome force but you must be prepared to pay for the future with the present. Nothing is free. Everything has to be paid for. But remember, if the promise is clear, the price is easy. If you can see the promise of the future, the price is easy and you will be prepared to pay.”

    I have found even when I’m overrun with self-doubt, trusting I am building a better future just by taking action – whether it turns out positive or negative – is enough to keep me moving forward. That, and I’m either too ignorant or too stubborn to just give up. (probably both!)

    And one more for the road:

    “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn

  • Great quotes James and I am certain you must be going through some of the same things I am with your new venture. Charge ahead!

  • Well said from a former military man John 🙂

  • Thanks Mike. Not sure about the “prophetic” part. Just a mere mortal without any extraordinary gifts from above. But glad you are encouraged

  • Thanks Mike. Really appreciate your words. And it was great to meet you in Vegas!

  • Thanks much Laura and do look back at all you have done when the road gets fuzzy. Appreciate your kind words about our two publications

  • Happy to kick David. Did it move you to action ??

  • Shauna Maguire

    I feel like that was written as a very timely reminder just for me Michael! It’s a new year and I know I have to start stepping out of my comfort zone, putting my money where my mouth is and so on. So instead of thinking about fear, I’m flipping a switch and thinking about possibility – that sick feeling in your stomach? That’s not fear, it’s excitement about what good things might just be about to happen. It’s a simple reversal but is so powerful.

  • Well said Shauna 🙂

  • Hey Michael,

    This is a really good post to start off the new year. Fear is such a primal, visceral emotion that constricts even the strongest men and women, and it’s so easy for us to fall by giving up or taking the easier route.

    You suggested several good methods for overcoming fears, and I especially liked the one about creeping forward when fear creeps in.

    “You can conquer fear psychologically. If you’re willing to look at it for what it is. Few are. Few ever truly gaze into their fear, their pain. Fewer still embrace it.”
    – Batman, Secret Origins of the JLA

    We should all learn to embrace fear, and not run from it.

    After all, everyone feels fear at some point in their lives. Even Batman.

  • Loved this Mike! I read it this morning and it was such perfect timing for me. Thank you for such a raw and honest article, and the benefit of what you have learned through creating some pretty awesome companies, websites and events. This year I was dragging my feet on launching a product and I had a wise friend say to me that I needed to get out of my own way and think about the bigger picture in terms of what I bring to the world and how so many people can benefit from my knowledge – ie who are we to deny them that?..that there are people waiting for what we have to offer – and all of us have something to offer. And it is hard but very worth stepping through the fear. Darren Rowse talked about it at his keynote at Problogger in Australia – about how you don’t need to be fearless…even wobbly courage is enough to take some great steps forward… as taking action on all of our ideas is a massive thing. Launching my first product and completing such a major project became more about a personal hurdle for me and challenging all those “am i good enough?” beliefs but was so worth it. It’s easy to be creative but so much rewarding to make it happen. So thanks for sharing (and BTW I liked your keynote…and your My Kids Adventures launch video had a MASSIVE impact on me as a mother and entrepreneur. So thank you for putting yourself out there!

  • Josh Cowen

    This is the only blog I read every week and this is my favourite post. If every great creator succumbed to fear then the world would be a boring place. If we don’t believe in ourselves, why should we expect others to? Thanks for this great article.

  • This is one of my most favorite posts of you of all time ツ The timing is also very good 😉 I’ve never thought of fear being a sign that you are on the right path so I’m going to make that one of my new mantra’s.. Thanks Michael! Cheers from Amsterdam, Jakolien

  • ktawila

    Great article Michael, always have been an inspiration

  • I forgot about Batman :). Great words here Samuel!

  • Thanks Donna. You said a few awesome things here, including “so many people can benefit from my knowledge – ie who are we to deny them that?” and “challenging all those “am i good enough?” beliefs but was so worth it.” It was great to have you on my upcoming show and thanks for your kind words about My Kids’ Adventures

  • Thanks much Josh and thanks for being a faithful reader

  • Thanks Jakolien. Appreciate that greatly

  • Glad to help 🙂

  • Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it, my man!!

  • It’s prophetic in the sense that it calls into being what should be, what might not be unless action is taken, but what can be! I was reminded freshly of the quote from the book, “Who moved my Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, that raises the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – Good stuff.

  • If it doesn’t involve kids, I am usually not interested! I signed up for your email and received your Fun things to do in 15 minutes ~ it’s really good! My husband and I are both educators so we have decades of experience filling our kids (and everyone else’s) lives with adventures! You inspired me to put out a post about our next adventure. Let me know what you think.

  • Ashish Bhatnagar

    you’re right Michael 😛

  • This post speaks to everyone. No matter how successful a person is, they have been in the position of being paralysed by fear when it comes to their work, at one stage or another. Mindfulness of the fears inside is a great way to come to terms with the block and just to plough ahead regardless. Great post.

  • Thanks Edward!

  • Karissa Letchworth

    This article speaks loud and clear to me. Last year after being laid off I started my Social Media Consulting firm. Shortly after I was hired full time as an internet marketing specialist for a local Doctor’s group. It is hard to see the rewards of persueing my own company being that a lot of my time is spent at the office and I feel wiped after the week is over. I need to keep in mind the “fear” and “lack of creativity” are only holding me in the spot I’m currently in and not allowing me to grow and build a bigger and better future. Thank you so much SME you always inspire and I’m so grateful for all the helpful and useful content you provide!

    2HotClix Social Media

  • Thanks for sharing your story Karissa

  • hoo-rah!! 🙂

  • Juanita Dailey

    Love, love, love this post. I tell my daughter all the time if you fear something… run towards it. Now, of course don’t be stupid and run towards a speeding train. LOL. But get out there and go for it. For a long time, I was sort of an introvert and at times I still can be but I have to pull myself out of that. One of the ways I did that was through public speaking. As you can imagine, I had this huge fear of doing it… still do just not as huge. I knew I had the fear so I said ok, let’s get rid of it. I tackled it head on and went on to achieve my goals via Toastmasters and became regional director with hundreds of people under me helping them to achieve their speaking goals as well. See once you get past the fear, it’s really not about you. It’s about helping others. And that’s the greatest feeling in the world 🙂 Ok, I’m scared to put this out there (LOL), but here goes 🙂

  • David Emil Henderson

    It did. Not just on the task I mentioned, but on various others I’d been putting off with the mental excuse that I’m “too busy.” That was a cover-up for for the underlying “fear of failure” that your article points out. Somehow, that fear doesn’t show up on tasks that I really enjoy.

  • Great post Michael! I enjoy watching you face your fears and moving beyond them. Thank you for the inspiration brother!

  • Smart advice for your daughter Juanita

  • Thanks so much Cliff!

  • Same here, Michael. You’re an inspiration!

    And while we’re talking about My Kids Adventures, this is a great topic to learn how to teach my 13 year old daughter. I know it isn’t really in the spirit of the site, but I sure am struggling.

    What I really need is to figure out how to deactivate her ITS (internal translation system). You know how men are from Mars and Women are from Venus? Well 13 year old girls are from an entirely different dimension.

    If I say this: “You are awesome and amazing. You can never fail as long as you don’t give up. You can achieve anything you want with hard work.”

    Here’s what she hears from her internal translation system: “You are a failure. I am disappointed in you. You will never amount to anything.”

    How we get there from that I have no idea. Darn you ITS!!!

    Parenting is a lot harder than Mike and Carol Brady made it look.

  • I hear you and do not have the answers 🙂

  • Sarah Haywood

    Thanks so much for this article! I’ve also been struggling with “following my gut” recently, and I find myself not sure what is a legitimate fear, and what is just “jitters” that should be overcome. How do others tackle this? How do we discern the difference?

  • It’s all kinda the same Sarah. Any of those feelings can stop you from moving forward and should be reexamined as a sign to move forward

  • treb072410

    Very well said Patrick… I totally agree with what you have said…

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  • ameeeee

    I LOVE THIS. Possibly my favourite article so far on Social Media Examiner, and that’s saying something because I literally read each post since I signed up for your newsletter about a year ago although I haven’t commented much, if at all.

    Thanks so much Michael for sharing this. You always seemed like such a pro and so confident of all your tips AND sharing SO MUCH content all the time (which is good!) that it was beginning to feel like you wouldn’t be able to relate to us struggling social media practitioners heh. Vulnerability does wonders to cement that personal bond online!

  • Thanks much Ameeeee 🙂

  • James Ponak

    Thank you so much for this excellent post! I’m really glad that I read it, and I fully intend to answer the questions. I believe that I have a lot to give away, but hard work and sacrifice are my obstacles.

  • Tasneem_Alnajjar

    Amazing article .. Thanks

  • Michael Stelzner: what a wonderful, self-revealing article. Loved how much you shared of your personal experience in this post; very inspiring. Congrats on your newest venture – My Kids’ Adventures. Bravo!

  • Thanks so much Karen!

  • Glad you liked it

  • Yep, the work always seems to get in the way James, but there is no other way 🙂

  • LeoWid

    Hi Michael, I just wanted to stop by and say I really love this new format of posts and seeing more of your writing again! Great work, especially “When doubt and fear creep in, you creep forward.” is one of my favorite new quotes!

  • Thanks Leo and great to hear from you!

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  • Roslyn Foo

    “Let’s bring fun back to the family.” Michael A. Stelzner 🙂 Love it, thanks Michael, I hope this vid gets to as many young parents as possible, I urge all parents to not opt for the easy way out – smartphones, to calm, entertain and educate their children. It cannot be compared with the flip pages of a real book, the fingers hitting those piano keys, the enjoyment of a sound truly from nature – all of which are starting to be replaced by educational games & apps..

  • Hi Michael – I love this article! I think of someone at your level and don’t think that you would still have those fears/doubts like someone who is just starting out – like me! I started my blog to encourage other parents to share creativity with their kids and when I heard you on a podcast describing My Kids’ Adventures – it resonated strongly with me. I toyed around with the idea of submitting an idea for an article for quite some time before I actually did because of all of those fears – “what if they say no”, “what if it’s not good”, well I did push it aside and apply to be a contributor. It was accepted, scheduled and published! So happy to see my article published this week “How Your Kids Can Make Valentine’s Day Cards That Are Sure to Stand Out”. Thank you for creating such an outstanding resource. I look forward to contributing again in the future.

  • owenhemsath

    Robyn- I picked up trello this week- AMAZING!!! I love this tool already. Thanks for the suggestion

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  • Thanks Roslyn!

  • Thanks Crystal. We are all human and so glad you are going for it! And thanks for contributing to!

  • Thanks for the reply Michael! I’m looking forward to my future contributions!

  • Lauren Bersaglio

    Thank you so much for this article – in a season of fear and discouragement this is just what I needed! I am bookmarking it so I can return in the future when I need a reminder 🙂