10 Boss Babes Share How They Conquered Their Biggest Fears
I have the amazing honor of meeting some very fabulous women. More recently, my path crossed with a brilliant, bright, luminous twenty something who has accomplished more than most woman dream of (especially at her age). She shared her fear of failure and how she feels others perceive her. She is constantly worried of saying or doing the wrong thing, sabotaging her career and coming across as unsuccessful. I guarantee you that not one of her hundreds of thousands of followers sees her the way she sees herself.
Talking to this gorgeous girl who was totally being crippled by fear really sent me spiraling in a sea of thoughts. How many other sharp, sassy, smart, powerful, compassionate, successful and incredible women are feeling this deep sense of fear too? How many times a day do you doubt yourself and internalize it? What would happen if we were vulnerable with one another and were honest about the things that scare us? We are constantly being told to be strong...but who said vulnerability is a sign of weakness? It's really quite the opposite. The more we let down our walls, the stronger we become together as a community. It's this kind of support system we all need to help us achieve our goals.
So, I looked to find how 10 incredible women sought out to conquer their fears. Wonderful things happen when we are vulnerable. My hope is that this post encourages you to be open in sharing your fears too. There is nothing that can’t be overcome when we have each other, and the more we hide what we go through each day the more alone in life we are.
Read on for some inspiration and remember: when we voice what we're fearful of and go to one another for help, we take away power from the very thing that holds us back.
1. Tracy Nour, Founder, She Just Knows
The Fear: Leaving a great job to become an entrepreneur.
Overcoming It: “Leaving a reliable, senior position at a multi-billion dollar company to start something on my own with no real concrete plan was terrifying. I knew I could really set myself back in my career while disappointing myself and those I love. Even though I was afraid, I did everything I possibly could to make sure it would work out. I listened to what people needed from me, I hustled daily, I treated people well and I delivered great work. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but I am a better person because of it.”
2. Debi Nova, Recording Artist/Songwriter
The Fear: Stage fright.
Overcoming It: “I used to get very nervous when having to play live and couldn’t enjoy the experience. What helped me the most to overcome it was to create a ritual before walking on stage. I warm up my voice and hands for 20 min and I meditate for 10 minutes focusing on my breath and grounding my energy and on being grateful for the opportunity to share my art.
I also remind myself the beautiful message from Marianne Williamson: ‘… as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same.’”
3. Genevieve Fish, Founder, The Know
The Fear: Being open about my own experiences with depression.
Overcoming It: “I started small, telling a few friends about my experiences with depression. Then I shared with 14 women at our first dinner. Then I continued to share as our programming expanded. I found that every time I led with vulnerability and was open about the highs and the lows of life, I formed incredible connections with almost every woman I met.
Vulnerability, it turns out, is a gateway to meaningful connection. It’s the core ingredient in building a de-stigmatized, empathetic, informative conversation around mental health. It’s still scary to tell people I’ve never met, why I started The Know, but every time I face that fear and open up, I never regret it. I’ve come to view vulnerability as strength.”
4. Danielle Gano, Founder/CEO, elle Comm
The Fear: Saying no.
Overcoming It: “Learning to say no is a process I’m still working through, but it’s started to become easier as a result of better considering my motivations for agreeing to things. Thinking carefully about my intentions for why I would say yes or no to a request has given me a better model for evaluating when I should learn to say no, and also reduced my fears about disappointing others or missing out on opportunities.”
5. Cait Fraser, Co-Founder, Wanderwell
The Fear: Asking for help.
Overcoming It: “I wanted to be able to ‘Do it all,’ but this just lead to more anxiety, burnout and loss of self esteem.
I overcame this fear when I was on a retreat and each person had to ask for something that they need help with. This was an incredible ‘aha’ moment. I saw that I was not alone and that every successful entrepreneur gets to where they are because they ask for help.”
6. Laura Anne Walker, CEO, AG Capital
The Fear: Reaching out to others I admire.
Overcoming It: “Of all the responsibilities I have as a CEO, the one that can be intimidating is reaching out to creatives and luminaries that I admire, which is essential to the growth of my business. I overcame this fear by adopting the mantra, ‘Courage is fear hanging on for a minute longer,’ which is a quote by General George S. Patton that was first taught to me by my father who was in the Navy. This simple but powerful phrase has always helped me convert nervousness into action, and those actions have helped me reach my goals throughout my career.”
7. Shira Lenchewski, MS, RD, Author, Founder, ShiraRD
The Fear: Being a public figure.
Overcoming It: “At my core I’m exceptionally private, so putting myself out there on social media for my career was a major fear of mine. I overcame it by figuring out what I was actually afraid of: misrepresenting myself. The truth is as long as we show up, as ourselves the world will generally respond positively and we can achieve even more than we thought possible. The more authentic we can be – the better. I have to remind myself that I worked long and hard to get where I am today, and I shouldn’t be afraid to share my knowledge and skills with others!”
8. Maimah Karmo, President/CEO, Tigerlily Foundation
The Fear: Swimming.
Overcoming It: “Believe it or not I was struck by lightening as a child and suffered a broken eardrum because of it. The pain was excruciating and it made me terrified of swimming — for more than 30 years. I knew it was time to shed the fear that was holding me back and no longer serving me and while jumping in water for the first time after my injury was so hard for me, it was also cathartic and the experience changed me forever. Now, I know I can scale the next mountain!”
9. Vitina Blumenthal, Founder, WanderfulSoul
The Fear: The big “F.” Failure.
Overcoming It: “Failing does not have to be something we are terrified of, but for years I have let negative thoughts eat away at me. For me, learning to catch my mind when self-sabotaging thoughts come up has been the best skill I’ve learned to date. It doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘negative’ thoughts don’t come up. It just makes it easier to get through low periods quicker, while still staying productive and moving forward.
10. Maggie Neilson, CEO, Global Philanthropy Group
The Fear: Not being liked.
Overcoming It: “Especially early on in my career, I wanted to be liked by everyone. Now I’ve realized that there has to be a hard line between the personal and the professional. It is my job – and in everyone’s best interests – for me to deliver hard news at times ranging from performance feedback to even employment termination. I see now that reasonable minds can disagree, and I’m never going to be able to convince everyone of my perspective, nor are they going to have access to all of the factors at play and that is ok.”
What are some fears that you are proud of conquering or looking forward to conquer?
Photography: Kristin Lin