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What’s your biggest fear? In this episode I share my personal fear, how I overcame, and tips on how you can conquer yours.

  • The fear of rejection. (2:36)
  • The danger of living your life to get approval from others. (7:00)
  • My biggest fear and what I did to overcome. (13:35)

Encourage others by expressing your thoughts about your current fears, or the fears you have overcome on my Facebook page.

00:02 Welcome to Steal the Show with Michael Port. This is Michael, and this episode is about the most important question that I get from folks when I’m being interviewed. So when I go on podcast or I give a speech, and people ask questions, one of the questions that I get again, and again, and again is about my biggest fear. People said, “What’s the biggest fear that you have?” And I’m always willing to talk about my fears as you probably well know, and I’ve got lots of them.

00:35 It’s interesting to me because if that’s the biggest question or the question I get most frequently, and I’m teaching performance in public speaking communications as well as marketing and business development, then maybe that’s the biggest challenge that people have is their fears because I’m not so sure that marketing and business development are that complicated for the kinds of businesses that we’re developing.

01:07 Certainly, there is a lot of technique that you can learn, concepts that are important to understand, but once you understand the concepts behind business development and the concepts behind marketing where you can apply lots of different technique to those particular concepts. So I don’t think that we’re incapable of learning those things, so that’s number one.

01:34 And then when it comes to public speaking, sure there are certainly some people who have more of a natural talent for performance. And there are other people who don’t feel as comfortable performing or as excited to perform. But they can still have an incredibly dramatic effect on other people. And sometimes, they can be even more effective if they do the work. Then we have a lot of assumptions about performers just like we have assumptions about, say, sales people.

02:06 So sometimes, we think, “Oh, the sales person with the big personality and the gift for gab, and who everybody loves. That’s the one that is the best salesperson.” Is not always the case. Sometimes, the quietest people are the most effective sales people because they are a heck of a lot better at listening. And they actually hear what the potential buyer needs, and then they are able to meet those needs. And that customer then feels like the world is about them, the customer as opposed to the seller who’s got the big personality.

02:36 So, we make assumptions there. We make assumptions about performers. But I think you can learn the skills of performance. And I think if you do the rehearsal, and if you take our advice or the advice of others who are helping you with presentations, et cetera, then I think you can do a bang up job. But the big question, the most common question is about the fear. So, what are we afraid of? We’re afraid of being rejected. Maybe you heard me talk about this before because again it keeps coming up. We’re afraid of being rejected. We’re afraid of being told that we don’t know what we’re talking about. We’re afraid of being told that we’re bad, that we’re stupid. And trust me, the better known that you get, the more rejection you’re gonna get, of course the more praise and love you’re gonna get as well, and the more of the goals that you have for yourself, you’ll meet, and that’s a beautiful thing, too.

03:37 So, ultimately, I think most people would argue that achieving your goals and performing in a way that you want and are capable of is much more appealing than not. And if you are afraid of showing up in the world in a big way for fear of the rejection, then you’re probably gonna play a small game.

04:02 One of my students in my mentoring program asked me about the use of doctor in front of her name. She’s a PhD in Kinesiology. And she said, “You know, I’m afraid if I use the PhD, if I use doctor, that people will think I’m a fraud because I’m not an MD.” Well, of course, knowing the answer I said, “Well, aren’t you technically a doctor?” Don’t we call people who have PhDs doctor? I call a lot of my professors doctor in school. Not all of them, but a lot of them. If you go to a psychologist, you often call them, “Doctor.” And that’s a distinction that you earn when you do your dissertation. You are not saying, “Hi. I’m a medical doctor, but I didn’t really go to medical school, but I have a PhD.” You’re not pretending you’re something other than you are. It’s something that only you are worried about. And the fact of the matter is, if other people have an issue with it, who cares? You’re not pretending to be something other than you are.

05:09 But her fear was so great that she was hiding the fact that she was a PhD, which would have made a difference and will make a difference in the way that people see her as an expert, the way that her potential clients will see her. She’s an authority in that particular field with the dissertation that she produced to earn her PhD. So, she is not expressing herself. She’s hiding who she is because she’s afraid of a couple of people out there who may not like the fact that she uses doctor in front of her name. And it was a really fun conversation that we got into, and our other mentoring students were there. And it ended up with each student cursing a lot, because I said, “At one point… ” I’m like, “Listen, at some point, you’re just gonna decide, ‘[BEEP]it, I just can’t live my life being so worried about what everybody else has to say.'”

06:14 And then when I did the takeaways at the end of the session, I said, “So, what are your big takeaways?” And to a T, everybody said, “Get up.” And they said, “It’s time for me to say, ‘[BEEP] it.'” [chuckle] And then the next one, “It’s time for me to say… ” And that became a refrain, and I had no intention of so much profanity be woven into the fabric of that conversation, but nonetheless, that is what happened, because sometimes when you really feel very strongly, some of those stronger words come out of your mouth. But I was inspired by that because I know what it feels like to be concerned with what people think. I didn’t become an actor in my early 20s because I didn’t want approval.

07:00 Most of us want people to approve of who we are and our work. But the danger, of course, is living your life to get approval. And the danger is trying to get approval from people whose opinions really shouldn’t be important to you or needn’t be important to you. But I care what my wife thinks, but I’m not gonna pretend to be someone that I’m not for her. And if she wants me to be someone that I’m not, we probably shouldn’t be married. She wants me to be exactly who I am, so that’s who I’ll be. You see what I’m saying? Same thing for your kids, or for your parents, or for whomever. And if you keep focusing on producing what you want for your family and for yourself, then you’re gonna get lots of approval from the people that matter.

07:51 So, at some point, that question won’t be a question that you ask anymore, if you were asking it. Maybe I won’t get that question so often from folks. Maybe that won’t be the thing that is most interesting to people about those who are successful, how they overcome their fears because the people who are working towards their big goals will just understand that fear is a part of life, but they get excited about trying new things and doing new things that they haven’t done before, and it becomes exciting. So, that’s what I hope. That’s what I hope will happen for you and for so many of the people that I serve.

08:30 And I would love, for one, to hear from you on this issue. Do you feel that your fears are the greatest impediment to you doing the things that you wanna do? Or is it something else? And if you’ve had fears that you’ve overcome, or there are fears that you wanna commit to overcoming now or just accepting and dealing with it and not worrying about it so much, then go to my Facebook page,, and just post your thoughts there. Share them. Maybe sharing with other people will be supportive of them ’cause I think we can do a lot more together than we can alone. And also expressing yourself around a topic like this can be empowering for you.

09:24 And for me, it’s a great, great pleasure being of service to you. Now, I get to share my experiences, I get to share my point of view, and I hope that they’re relevant to you. I’m not sure every single one of my experiences and point of view will be relevant to you, but I hope most of them are. I certainly identify… I try to identify ones that I think will be. But I’ll give you an example of a fear of mine that I still have, but I have… I feel like I’ve done a good job working through. I was not somebody who concerned themselves at all with personal finance when I was younger. I was not somebody who saved money. I was very good at spending money. I still am very good at spending money. Not as good as saving money, when I was younger. And that’s a problem, if you wanna build a nest egg for retirement. It’s not uncommon when we’re younger not to think about the future and feel, “Oh, we’ll figure it out later. I’ll deal with that one when it comes,” but of course, for retirement that’s a little bit tricky because if you wait too long, then you are too far away from even the starting line to get to the finish line. So, I was afraid of it ’cause I didn’t really understand it. And I didn’t have a lot of money when I was young, so I wanted to spend the money that I had.

11:03 And just the other day, I was setting up a Roth IRA for my son, who’s 11 because I have him work for the business, and I pay him out of the business, and then he invests that money in his Roth IRA. And because he doesn’t have any federal taxes to pay because he is making less than $5,500, that money for him is tax free, and will then grow in this Roth IRA, tax free, for many, many years. And if he’s putting $5,500 a year in there, starting at age 11, and it sits there for… And does that every year for 60 years, just think about this for a second, every year for 60 years. I ran some numbers on this. If he does that every year for 60 years and of course when he’s older, he’ll be able to put more. But let’s just say, he only put $5,500 a year in there at 9% compound interest rate over 60 years, he’ll have about $15 million, something crazy like that. That just seems out of control and I wouldn’t even believe it myself, but I kept running the numbers again and again and maybe I’m off in my memory of when I first ran the numbers, but it’s something close to that. Nonetheless, it’s a lot of money. So, that’s one thing I wanna help do for him because I know that if I learned that at an earlier age, it may have been helpful.

12:43 So, I was sitting there doing the paperwork which was extensive, and there were a lot of issues I had to concern myself with because we have what’s called a cash balance plan, a defined benefit plan for the business, and I had to make sure that he didn’t… He worked less than 1,000 hours over the course of the year or else it would have an effect on the cash balance plan and I wouldn’t want that to happen. So, there were a lot of moving pieces and whether he was an independent contractor or salaried or paid by the… And then if he was, is he paid by the hour or is he paid… Say, if he is a salary… If he is put on payroll, salary, et cetera. So, lots of little things and I had to talk to the plan administrator and talk to my accountant and a number of different people, and then managed some issues with the bank in terms of how it was getting automatically transferred over there. The kind of…

13:35 He has like one of those kids accounts and those kids accounts are often limited in terms of how you can use them and I sat up and I said to Amy, I said “You know, I feel like a grown-up. I feel like because I am now really capable because I’ve decided to be capable and I’m learning as I go, I’m no expert in personal finance, that’s for sure, but I’m really doing what needs to be done to secure our future and then as a result, the future of our kids. And it makes me feel like a grown-up.” But I’ve been afraid of that kind of stuff most of my life and I still get nervous. I’m not very good with paperwork and those kind of details, so I have to work extra hard and it makes me a little bit tense. With my dyslexia, I’m very afraid that I’ll write the number down incorrectly or spell something incorrectly and so it makes me anxious. It still does, it may always do, but I deal with it now and I’m quite proud of myself and I feel like an adult because of these things.

14:42 So, that’s a great feeling to have overcome or moved through one of those big fears that holds you back from some really, really important stuff and now I feel like I’m gonna be able to achieve my financial goals long term because I’ve decided that the results that I wanna produce are a heck of a lot more important than the fear I have around doing it wrong or the fear I have around not being able to understand it because when I hear a new concept in that area, I often get it conceptually, but I don’t really understand it technically or practically.

15:19 So then, I have to work at trying to figure it out. How does this work technically or practically? I get the concept, now what needs to actually happen? And I got all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed because when it comes to personal finance, there’s a lot of if this, then that. So, I think that actually is probably more complicated than what you need to do to be a good performer, presenter, public speaker, or even the basics of building a business and marketing yourself. Those things I actually find a lot easier because the IRS is not really involved in your public speaking, unless of course you’re an accountant and you’re speaking on tax issues.

16:02 So, I think you get the point. I’m gonna wrap it up for today. Listen, if you haven’t read Steal the Show, please do. If you like what I’m offering you, please rate and review the show. It means a lot to me and to the people that I serve, make sure people know that what we’re doing here is important and subscribe if you haven’t. And keep thinking big about who you are and what you are for the world and I have a lot of love for you. I may not know you, but I do because I think you stand in the service of others, as you stand in the service of your destiny. I think you’re a big thinker, I think you’re somebody who cares about the world, who cares about people around you, and who cares about yourself because I think caring about yourself is the most important first step in doing the big things that you want. And then if you couple that with the care you have for others, that’s a pretty good life. Until next time, this is Michael Port. Bye for now.