We typically think of fear as a negative emotion. Something that feels terrible, and not only keeps us away from true danger, but also inhibits us from going after our life’s goals and passions.
Fear can indeed be an unwelcome hindrance, but, my guest today argues, it can also be a powerful propellant and a signpost towards success. His name is Patrick Sweeney, he’s a tech entrepreneur, a university lecturer, a coach and consultant to CEOs, professional athletes, and Navy SEALs, and the author of Fear Is Fuel: The Surprising Power to Help You Find Purpose, Passion, and Performance. We begin our conversation with how a diagnosis of leukemia forced Patrick to confront the fact that he had led a life dominated and shrunken by fear, and inspired him to face those fears and to spend six years talking to leading neuroscientists about how to live more courageously. He explains how fear should be thought of not only as an early warning system for danger, but as an early warning system for opportunity. We then unpack the three kinds of fears which exist, and how you can be fearful in one area but courageous in another. Patrick then explains how it’s possible to train the brain’s courage center to control and reprogram its fear center, so you can get the best from fear, rather than letting it get the best of you. We discuss how uncertainty creates something called “free energy,” how free energy creates fear, and how to reduce both forces by exposing yourself to a wide range of experiences. We end our conversation with how to find the motivation to take the first step into a fear, and three things you can do to gain the confidence to take action in the face of uncertainty.
If reading this in an email, click the title of the post to listen to the show.
- What catalyzed Patrick’s thinking about fear
- Why didn’t Samuel Langley win the race to the first manned flight?
- How can we re-program our fear center to find more opportunities?
- The 3 types of fears
- What are the signs that you’re feeling fear?
- Why should you do something that scares you every day?
- What is free energy?
- Fixing our erroneous, fearful thinking
- What role does self-talk play in turning fear into fuel?
- How do you will yourself to exposure of your fears?
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- The Lesson General Grant Learned About Fear
- How Superheroes and Video Games Taught Me to Conquer Fear
- And In This Corner . . . Fear
- Fighting FOMO
- How I Learned to Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
- Control = Courage
- How to Increase Your Courage and Bravery
- 9 Ways to Become More Courageous
- Karl Friston — Genius Neuroscientist
- Courage vs. Boldness
- 3 Simple Steps for Stopping Negative Self-Talk
Connect With Patrick
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Listen ad-free on Stitcher Premium; get a free month when you use code “manliness” at checkout.
Read the Transcript