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Facing Fear: Hilary Swank’s Advice for Entrepreneurs
Step into the sharp edges, do something that scares you

I want to lead you through a short thought experiment about facing fear.

In your mind — or better yet, on a piece of paper — take a moment to write out one or two of your biggest life goals. Take the seat belt off for this one, and really think of what dream, desire, passion, or goal has always been sitting patiently in the back of your heart, longing for its chance to break free and birth into reality.

Have it written down? Now, flip it over, and write down the answer to the following question:

What is the biggest fear that you have that is keeping you from realizing that dream?

As an entrepreneur, I can almost fill a piece of paper in minutes with the seemingly countless dreams, ideas, and potential plans for my life and business. Each one has such incredible potential to increase my leadership ability, extend my influence in my industry, and bring purpose and joy to my daily life.

Yet, each one also comes with a shadow — that ever-present fear that hides just below the surface of my goal that tells me why something won’t work, why it can’t happen, and how hard it will be to accomplish.

I’m not too proud to say that my deepest fears are often why I fail to act on some of the dreams that exist within me. Whether I fear a financial loss due to failure and embarrassing entrepreneurial flop or that my idea is just too impossible, I often move my goal or dream back below the surface and push ahead with the comfortable status quo.

Facing Fear By Pushing Into The Sharp Edges

Recently, as I was listening to the Impact Theory Podcast, I heard a quote that blew open my own understanding of my limitations and fears:

“I have this motto. Make a choice, make it happen, and work every day towards whatever that goal is. Step into the sharp edges, do something that scares you, don’t pull away, and don’t overthink.” — Hilary Swank.

Make a choiceWork every dayStep into the sharp edges.

Hilary Swank’s motto has stuck with me ever since I first heard it, and those wise words have become my battle cry in life and business. Too often, leaders and entrepreneurs start their journey with a world-changing idea backed by a passionate desire to impact their industry, only to let the sharp, scary edges of reality cause them to shrink back.

I have experienced this in my own life. As a soldier, and then as a business executive, I have faced fear in many moments where I become overwhelmed by the fear of reaching the end of my life and realizing my unfulfilled potential. I agonize the thought of lying on my deathbed, reminiscing on all the past moments that unfulfilled my calling. The worst part? That very fear of finishing my race dissatisfied often keeps me from pursuing my ultimate goals!

Breaking The Fear Cycle

How do we put our fears to death and step into our potential? As Swank said, we must make a choice, push into the sharp edges, do something that scares us, and don’t overthink it. It seems simple to say, yet harder to put into action.

To remind me to push into the sharp edges, I remember the life and legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Upon being thrust into the most powerful position in the world, President Johnson found himself facing a near-impossible task: lead the American people ahead toward greatness after having just witnessed the tragic loss of President Kennedy.

“The noblest search is the search for excellence”― Lyndon B. Johnson.

Struck by a fear of how the public would see him, and whether or not he had the ability to lead as Kennedy had, Johnson had a decision: cower back and give himself over to the tides of public opinion and political fate, or push into the sharp edges of public service.

Choosing to step into the fearful unknown, Johnson followed in Kennedy’s footsteps leading the United States dutifully through some of the most turbulent times the nation had known. His legacy is enshrined by bringing hope and healing the nation with acts such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Make The Scary Choice, Everyday

Imagine what our world would look like without leaders who were willing to make decisions, step forward into the unknown, and daily decide that fear wouldn’t stop them? The greatest thinkers and industry leaders of our world have led the way in world-changing movements and inspirations.

My hope and dream are that I will continue to follow Hilary Swank’s motto and make a choice to follow my dream and goal every day. Will fear arise with sharpened blades ready to attack? Absolutely. However, when we determine to press into those swords with our passion and unbreakable resolve, we discover how dull these sharp edges genuinely are.

On the other side of our fear? The greatest gifts we have to offer our industry, our world, and ourselves.

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