The Secret Part of Bravery People Struggle with Most

Jon Acuff Explains Why We Need to Step Out When We Feel Like Holding Back

This is a guest post from my friend Jon Acuff. He’s a New York Times bestselling author who just wrote a new book called Do Over. (I bought a copy for every member of my team!) You can read his blog here and follow him on Twitter.

I write about fear a lot. I write about more than just rational fears like when you go to Chipotle and try to order queso and they tell you, “We don’t have queso.” I write about irrational fears as well.

Girl opening curtain

Photo courtesy of iStock/Sergey Nivens

People often ask me, “Where do you get all these ideas about fear?” and they are always disappointed with my answer: “I’m afraid of a lot of things. And then I write them down.”

I wish it was fancier than that, but it’s not.

I’m afraid my blog is stupid when I see the cool things other people are doing with their blogs.

I’m afraid I’m wildly unqualified to give anyone advice on anything.

I’m afraid to admit I’m a writer.

In the midst of all that fear, I decided to study bravery for my new book Do Over. I learned a lot in eighteen months. Here are a few things that surprised me:

  • Bravery is a choice, not a feeling.
  • Being afraid isn’t failure, staying afraid is.
  • Bravery has two parts.

That last one is the least tweetable of the three, but it was the most surprising for me.

We’re taught that bravery only has one part. Like Nike says, you “Just do it.” And that is true. The first part of bravery is, “Just do it.”

  • Just write your book.
  • Just open your business.
  • Just start a blog.
  • Just learn photography.

That step is critical. You have to make the thing, but there are actually two steps to bravery:

  1. Do it.
  2. Tell people you did it.

If that second part feels easy to you, then you’ve never created something you deeply care about. I can’t explain it, but the more you care about something the harder it is to tell other people about it.

The free online PDF you created just to get email addresses? You’ll mention that thing a thousand times without worrying at all. If someone doesn’t like it you can always tell yourself, “Who cares? It’s just a dumb PDF anyway.”

The photo project you poured your heart and soul into? The business you dreamed about starting since you were a child? The poems you carried inside for years? The moment you actually dare to do those things, fear will launch a new campaign against you.

It will say things like:

  • Don’t be so self promotional.
  • Don’t bother people with the things you created.
  • People don’t care about what you built.
  • What if they laugh at what you did?
  • What if they don’t like what you made?

So books that are brilliant stay stuck on laptops. Businesses the world might have loved close their doors. Dreams die quiet deaths in forgotten notebooks.

Don’t let that happen to you. Tell us what you’ve done. Share with us in creative ways why it matters to you and to us. Be excited about the work you have finished. (Tweet it and tag me @JonAcuff so I can be excited too!)

And do step two with as much focus as you invested in step one.

My wife challenged me on this idea recently. She said, “If you think I’m going to let you hide your new book, after the work you did to create it, you don’t know me very well.”

She’s right. We shouldn’t hide the things we create.

Be brave.

It’s easier to write motivational blog posts than it is to actually do what they say, so I’ll go first so you know I’m all in, too.

I wrote a new book. It’s called Do Over. It’s about building your dream with the four investments every amazing career and adventure has in common. I think it’s the best book I’ve ever written.

I think you should pre-order it today so you can get the awesome bonuses that are available until April 1. (I’ll even send you a digital copy of the entire book weeks before it comes out so you can start reading it right away!)

Forget just pre-ordering one copy, I think you should order bulk copies, get the ridiculously awesome perks and give one to everybody you know.

If you don’t though, that’s okay.

I’m still going to be brave. I’m still going to do both parts of bravery, and I hope you will too with whatever you create.

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