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“What would happen if I shamelessly promoted myself for 365 days?” Shameless Maya threw this open-ended question into the YouTube Universe for the first time on July 15, 2012.

Using YouTube as a platform, she challenged herself to do one terrifying thing: promote herself, shamelessly. For Maya, self-promotion meant being vulnerable – more vulnerable than she had ever been before – and actively, passionately chasing after the success she knew she deserved.

It meant being goofy, authentic, and shamelessly imperfect and being comfortable with that.

I didn’t discover Shameless Maya until January 2018. By then, almost 6 years after her initial challenge, she already had hundreds of YouTube videos. After watching a few of her most recent ones, something told me to start from the beginning. So I did. And her message and mission immediately resonated with me.

Maya’s personal challenge stuck with me for a long time. I came to realize that what was keeping Maya from shamelessly promoting herself in the past – and what keeps so many of us from doing it now – was fear.

At the time, I had fears of my own. (Let’s be clear: I still do.) I was one month away from launching LaziMILLENNIAL and I was terrified. I can’t begin to explain how critical Maya’s channel was to the success of my blog thus far. Just in case you don’t have time to plow through hundreds of videos, I’m gonna share with you the most important lessons Shameless Maya taught me about fear.

You’ll be able to use these lessons to shamelessly overcome your own fears.

Pin me to come back to this post later!

Some pretty dope (but little-known) things you should know about fear

You’ve heard that fear is something all humans (maybe all animals) are born with right? For self-preservation, humans wayyyy back in history needed to know which animals to chase for food and which animals to run away from to avoid becoming food. We needed the fight-or-flight response, or else humans would be extinct.

Geek out with me for a sec.

When you feel fear, there’s a little organ smack dab in the middle of your brain called the amygdala that gets the hint. The amygdala then tells part of your nervous system to buck up. That’s the cue.

Your heart starts beating faster, blood pressure goes up, and stress hormones like adrenaline kick into high gear. But that’s not the most interesting part of this process…

The most interesting part is that while your body is getting ready for war, the rest of your brain shuts down. All of your body’s resources are being used to help you fight off a bear or run away from it (i.e., survive).

When you’ve gotta figure out what to do in a stressful situation, what your body is really trying to figure out is this: Are you more powerful than this [*insert stressful thing*] or is [*insert stressful thing*] more powerful than you?

If it’s a dog, your brain may determine that you’re more powerful than it. You decide to fight. If it’s a bear, your brain might be like nah, I’m good on that. You decide to run away.

You fear things that you believe are more powerful than you. The less control we have, the more fear we have. This brings me to 2 critical points you have to understand in order to overcome your fears:

1. FEAR IS ROOTED IN POWER.

2. FEAR ITSELF IS POWER.

The great news is that you can USE that power, and USE that energy to make fear work for you instead of working against you.

Why we NEED fear in our lives as much as we need food, air, and water

You know that feeling you get when you’re about to deliver a presentation, or when you’re perched at the highest point on a rollercoaster, or when you’re about to give birth?

In each of these moments, the feeling is slightly different – nervousness, anticipation, anxiety (or pure terror) – but they’re all rooted in fear.

The fear is so big, so significant, it’s almost like you can wrap your arms around it and pick it up. That makes it more than just a feeling.

Fear isn’t just an emotion – it’s energy. It’s power. It moves us to do something…or NOT to do something, which is exactly why we need fear in our lives:

  • Fear is a great motivator.
  • Fear keeps us from repeating stupid mistakes.
  • Fear helps us follow rules, even when we don’t want to.

But sometimes, the magnitude of fear’s power can cause problems for us. Why?

Fear can be so powerful that you can sometimes feel like you have no power over it. Even though that’s not true, it’s easy to feel that way. But here’s the key:

If you can manage to be more powerful than your fear, then you can use the power of fear to your advantage.

When Shameless Maya created her YouTube channel, she essentially gave a big middle finger to fear. The moment she clicked publish on that first video, she became more powerful than her fear. And look where it’s gotten her today. Five years later, 1.1 MILLION YouTube subscribers, and a massive audience who appreciates her art.

Had Maya not had her internal fears to push against and oppose, she might not have had the motivation to challenge herself or to publish that first video. But because her fear was so powerful and because she responded back to that fear even more powerfully, she had the momentum to propel herself into the success she was seeking.

how to Pinpoint your fears

In order to shamelessly overcome your fears, you have to know exactly what your fears are.

Internal fears versus external fears

The bear and the dog from our earlier example of the fight-or-flight response are external fears.

External fears are fears that exist outside of you. You have less control over external fears (but that doesn’t mean you have no control at all).

On the flipside, internal fears stem from inside you. Your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the past, present, or future are often the root of internal fears.

These are the fears that no one can see but that can really hold you back from pursuing your goals and dreams. These are the fears we’re about to overcome.

Common internal fears

Most of our common internal fears fall into two broad categories. You’re either scared of failure or scared of success (or more than likely, a little of both).

1. FEAR OF FAILURE

May also be seen as:

  • fear of not being good enough
  • fear of not being able to execute
  • fear of embarrassment
  • fear of making a mistake
  • fear of overhyping yourself and falling short of expectations
  • fear of criticism
  • fear of vulnerability

2. FEAR OF SUCCESS

May also be seen as:

  • fear of being publicly known as an expert in something
  • fear of being in the spotlight
  • fear of what others might say
  • fear of inability to replicate
  • fear of inability to sustain success
  • fear of being a fraud (imposter syndrome)

A Practical Exercise to Transform Your Fears into Positive Energy

Do you consider yourself a logical thinker? I do, but recently someone burst my bubble with this revelation…

Most people think they’re super logical and objective about things. In reality, not so much. Most of us make an initial decision based on emotion. Then, we try to justify that emotional response with logic.

It’s not always noticeable because we do it subconsciously and sometimes immediately. (The next time you “feel some type of way” about something and then work backwards trying to figure out why you feel that type of way, you’ll be like DAMN, that’s exactly what Meg was talking about!)

Anyway, that thought process – emotion, followed by logic – is helpful to understand because that’s the exact approach I recommend taking with fear. Here’s why.

Telling yourself not to be afraid will only go so far. If that worked, would you still be reading this post? Would there be millions of articles and thousands of books and oodles of Ted Talks about overcoming fear? No. You can’t simply tell your body to turn off its fear sensor and expect to be fearless.

your goal should not be to avoid fear because you can't. it's unavoidable. we are hard-wired for fear in order to survive.

Your goal is to act in spite of fear. To move in spite of fear. Not to let fear control or paralyze you, but instead to take that power and control it.

So going back to the emotion-followed-by-logic thought process, we already know the emotion: fear. Now I’m going to teach you a strategy to use logic to act in spite of that fear.

Do this whenever you feel fear holding you back

Take a sheet of paper and divide it into 3 columns.

In column 1, list all your fears, every single one that you can think of, big or small, weird or truly terrifying. If you’re feeling like the fears you’re listing are too superficial, keep asking yourself “why” until you get to the root fear.

For example, if you’re afraid to launch a blog, the first fear that comes to mind may be the fear of your family seeing your blog. Why? Because you’re afraid of what they might say. Why? Because you’re afraid of sharing your true thoughts with them. Why? Because you’re afraid of being vulnerable.

Getting the pattern?

Okay once you’ve got all your fears out of your mind and onto your paper, move to column 2.

Column 2 is all about preparation and prevention: preparing for success and preventing failure.

In column 2, next to each fear, write down everything you can do to keep that fear from happening in real life. Back to the blogging example, if you’re afraid of what your family might say, one strategy might be to keep your blog anonymous or not to share it on social media platforms where your family members are.

If you have a fear of starting a podcast because you don’t like your voice, a way to overcome it could be to take a voice acting course.

Moving on to our final column…

Column 3 is the transformation column. Here, write down the BEST things that can happen as a result of the preparation & prevention steps you listed in column 2.

If you pursue your dream of starting a blog and decide to keep it anonymous, you could gain an audience and build a community without having to worry about family members, employers, or anyone else’s potentially negative feedback.

If you start a podcast after taking a voice acting course, you could end up winning an award for having one of the best podcasts out there. Or you could get approached for voice acting opportunities that pay!

The idea here is to focus on the best case scenario. Then you look at all the potential GOOD that could enter your life if you just took a leap of faith, and you immerse yourself in it until the potential of the best-case scenario is more powerful than your fear.

Do It Anyway

If you take nothing away from this post, walk away with this… This exercise should help you suppress your fears and become more powerful than them, but you will ALWAYS have fear.

The most critical step is this: DO IT ANYWAY.

Whatever it is that you dream of that has you shook just might be worth a shot, don’t you think? You may be scared. Newsflash: So is every other creator! So is every other employee, manager, CEO… So is every other student…

So was Shameless Maya. Hundreds of videos later, look at all the opportunities that have been opened up to her…

The only difference between you and Shameless Maya is that she chose to be more powerful than her fear. She chose to DO IT ANYWAY.

I hope that you’ll make that choice as well.

so what are your fears and what are you going to do in spite of your them?