July 27, 2016

What Are You So Afraid Of?

What Are You So Afraid Of?

Have you ever been so afraid to do something that you’d do anything else just to avoid doing that thing?


Like being so afraid to write your keynote speech that you organized your silverware drawer?


Or so afraid to have the conversation with your best friend about how your feelings were hurt, that you washed all the linens in the house?


Or so afraid to go for that promotion at work, that you decided to start training for a marathon?


I’ve been there SO MANY times.


But a couple of years ago, I realized that some fears are buried so deeply, and their black magic has worked its way into our lives so seamlessly, that we can’t even see them. Sometimes someone else has to point them out to us.


Earlier on the blog, I introduced you to Dr. Stuart Grauer, and an amazing touch point he engineered for his brand. He’s the founder of The Grauer School, where our son will be attending his third year this September, as a high schooler! (Oy, vey!)


Before Christian started seventh grade at Grauer, I bought a stand-up paddle board lesson from Dr. Grauer at a silent auction. And it was on a glorious Southern California morning, as he taught me how to balance and paddle through the majestic San Elijo Lagoon, that Stuart got a glimpse of who I was.


I’ll digress here for just a moment to say that I’ve never much believed in “moments of clarity” that immediately result in huge life changes. I generally find that we bring our awareness to something, and then we go through a series of experiences – forward and backward – inside of that new truth, until we end up with long-awaited change.

I don’t much believe in an a-ha moment on Monday that leads to a different life on Tuesday.

Change BEGINS with clarity, but BECOMES through action.


As I wobbled on that surf board, both tentative and determined, Stuart came to know something about me and about the way I parented my son as a result of that thing.


He didn’t mention it in the moment. But some months later, I had a meltdown over Christian’s grades. He wasn’t performing the way I thought he could. He wasn’t participating in the way I thought he should. He wasn’t giving it his “all,” in the way I thought I would have. He was missing a big opportunity.


I turned to Stuart to discuss it.


And he took that moment to ask, “Julia… what are you so afraid of?”


My response was automatic.


“I’m afraid he’ll get too far behind. I’m afraid he won’t make it to college. I’m afraid his life will be limited because he won’t apply himself.”


And that was when Stuart said something that has replayed a thousand times in my head since:


“You can’t parent from fear. You can only parent from love.”


And he proceeded to tell me what I know was hard for him to say, and even harder for me to hear:


“You need to take your focus off Christian. You need to back off. Because Christian will be fine. You need to find out what YOU are afraid of. And then go do that thing. Go throw yourself into something that terrifies you.”


And there it was.

Right out in the open.

This wasn’t about Christian. It was about me.

I was afraid that I wasn’t performing the way I should.

That I wasn’t participating in the way I should.

That I wasn’t giving it my all.

That I was missing an opportunity.


And I saw that I’d been organizing my silverware drawer for more than 25 years.


I saw I’d built a career that comfortably sat in the shadows of what I really wanted to do.


I wanted to be heard.

More importantly, I wanted my words to be read.

I wanted to share my truth in a way that it would move others.

I wanted to be influential and thought-provoking in a way that would change people, and change the world.


And the thought of doing that was absolutely terrifying.


None-the-less, I began untangling myself from the messy web of expecting things from my son. And parenting only from love.


I began untangling myself from the messy web of selling myself short in order to avoid pain. And I began speaking to myself with love.


In action after action, I lived inside that new truth: that I was missing out on my own opportunity.


I quietly packed up the corporate consulting business I’d run for 15 years, and I went for it. One small step at a time.


Almost two years later, I successfully speak my truth for a living.


On this blog, in one-on-one coaching sessions, in live speeches and presentations, in daily emails to more than 25,000 people, to thousands of fans on social media, to thousands more in weekly webinars, and in my online branding program.


I influence lives, with my words and my beliefs… for a living.


And with each passing day, I am less and less afraid that people won’t read my words or won’t like them. (Or at least I am less and less defined by that fear.)


Stuart was right. Christian is much more than fine. He’s become a creative, independent thinker with a spirit and energy far beyond anything I could have dreamed of. He’s done it all on his own. Unsolicited advice from me is not helpful for him; he’s 15 now… a young man.


I no longer say anything to Christian about fear and opportunity. I show him.


He sees me, day after day, put myself out into the world, doing the thing that I fear the most. He sees me being honest and vulnerable on the days that turn to shit-shows, in the moments I feel the sting of failure I fought so long to avoid. And he sees me picking myself up the very next day, to do it all again. He sees me wanting, chasing, doing, living… LOVING.


And when he says things a teenager would say, like “I want to be a YouTube star,” or “Can I go to DJ camp?”… I don’t call him a dreamer or judge his plans as fruitless fancy. I show him my newest Instagram ads, or the microphone I just got for podcasts, or the email I just got from a fan. He sees me doing what two years ago seemed utterly ridiculous. He sees me going “world-wide” right from the kitchen table.


But you know what’s even better? I see me.


I share this with today in the hopes that you’ll ask yourself: “What the hell am I so afraid of?”

So you’ll step away from your silverware drawer or your teenager’s report card to go do the thing that terrifies you the most. Because that’s the thing you were meant to be.

I share it so you won’t miss the boat that’s scheduled to sail to your true destiny.

So you’ll manage your life from love… and not from fear.


I went first. So share with me in the comments below:

What are you so afraid of?

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31 thoughts on “What Are You So Afraid Of?

  1. Jeremy says:

    I’m afraid of failing at business again. I’m afraid of starting my online courses and membership because maybe I’ll run out of things to say or people won’t find it valuable to their lives. I’m trying to push through it, but it’s quite the weight. Thanks for the post!

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Oh, Jeremy. I have every one of those fears, too!! Every. single. one. And then people like you are courageous and kind enough to reply to my blog posts, and it gets me over that feeling in my chest. Ask yourself which will feel worse: the pain of trying and experiencing failure? Or the regret of never having tried? I think I’m much more afraid of the regret. And you know what? We’ll all be right here. Cheering you on.

  2. Julia, last night while reviewing my notes I stumbled on something I wrote on a day that I realized I was TERRIFIED. I thought I’d share it here – my fears of THEN 🙂

    •All the things holding me back:

    What if no one reads what I write?
    What if it’s crap?
    What if people laugh at me?
    What if I don’t get clients?
    What if I don’t make money?
    What if I’m not able to balance my writing as it should be for people to take me seriously?
    And then, how much will I charge?
    And, how will my services be offered? With what kind of structure?
    Do I need scripts?
    Do I need ready-made original material?
    What if someone says I plagiarized?

    Thankfully, I was surprised and happy to see I have come a long way and have convinced myself, the same way I tell my clients: “the fears will be there, but (I can and will) do it anyway!”
    It was helpful to be completely honest with myself and write that list, too. Made me feel stronger, right away 🙂
    Thank you for an awesome blog!! Much love to you!

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Georgia. Thanks so much for that amazing share! Much love to you, as well. You know what’s funny about those “what ifs?” The answer is always, “nothing.” Or, “I’ll feel badly.” Right? What if no one reads what I write? I’ll feel badly. I’ll hurt a little. And then it will go away. And I’ll still be me, and the day will still have 24 hours, and tomorrow I’ll write again. And what if I don’t make money? Ultimately, I won’t get what I want. And I’ll feel badly… For me, the answers always come down to me feeling crappy. And I guess I’m learning that I can feel crappy. I’m strong enough to do that. But I’m not willing to feel the sting of regret forever. That seems much, much worse. Good for you for putting yourself out there. And thank you.

  3. Absolutely Julia,

    And my experience showed me that once I face the fear straight in the eye – I automatically, almost involuntarily become resourceful and come up with ways to enable myself to act – and it begins to resolve. It’s like our internal growth patiently awaits, and with only a hint of bravery on our behalf, it can take off.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      It begins with resolve. Amen. Go, Georgia. Kill it.

  4. Pam says:

    I love this story, Julie. A friend just forwarded it to me because I just made my own BIG scary leap. And when I saw the name I thought, “I sort of KNOW her”. LOL. Joe Thomas, is a close friend in Lake Havasu City. We taught together for the past 4 years. (love him) During this time he often relayed the story about his’ best friend, Julie”s big dream business launch’. I was captivated, inspired, stuck in a job I was afraid to leave, it gave me hope. I think I was a sidelines cheerleader for you just thru Joe. Lol. Anyways. Glad to find your blog and contact information thru what I would call, synchronicity. My job was discontinued in June. At first, I panicked and then realized I can create a classroom anywhere. The last two months have been consuming and full of equal parts terror and excitement, and the possibility of great creative freedom. I move in tomorrow, it is lake front, my first two classes are sold out. And I secretly suspect I can really do this. And IF not, I knew I at least tried. Ha. Look forward to reading more about your journey and of course hearing it from Joe. Thanks for being an inspiration.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hey, Pam. I LOVE Joe Thomas. He’s one of my favorites. And I’m so glad to meet you!! Good for you for putting yourself out there and making it happen. And no more “secretly suspecting.” Say it loud and proud. You deserve it, and you’re gonna succeed. Period. Stay in touch. I want to hear how it goes!!

  5. Karen says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Fear has dogged me most of my life, starting early as a child being fearful of parents who were supposed to protect me. I came to see the world as a terrifying place, something to be survived and if I got any enjoyment out of being here, then that was just luck.

    I’ve had so many missed opportunities because I’ve been afraid and wanted to stay hidden. Struggled with the physical symptoms of anxiety, too.

    And now I’m done with fear. Actually, I’ve decided to embrace the fear with love. It always has something to say, but it’s not running the show. I’m at a precipice right now, thinking about jumping off into the real me… my toes are closer than ever to the edge… I’m going to make it just like you did. I already sense the freedom that’s coming. Just a couple more steps…

    1. Julia Hook says:

      My favorite line in this comment is: “I’m going to make it.” You absolutely are. Of course you are. It’s a decision and a choice. And you just made it. I’m right here with you. We’ll do it together. Thanks for sharing, Karen. I’m super excited about where you’re going.

  6. Trust your self you are better than this. “If Something Is Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Badly” . If you try your best and fail another 10 times is better than not trying your best to change the circumstances in your life. Just think about it, life happens only one time for everyone. If you don’t come over your fears you will never get this chance again. Life is a beautiful adventure don’t let fear define your beautiful life for you. The chapter of your life is open just enjoy it. Good Luck

  7. JuJu, I loved this story of you. Thanks for sharing with us. I never think about fear. Maybe I never let fear stick with me and never let fear hold me back. I failed lots of times in my life but I always got up again. Maybe I look at the life differently than most of the people, I’m not saying that I dont afraid, I afraid only for a moment then somehow the feeling of being afraid is disappears.
    One truth is when I see people around me get panic for any reason, yes that makes me afraid. I afraid that maybe they don’t convince that the situation will change and everything will be ok again. See everyones afraid of something 🙂 Thank You JuJu

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Thanks, Jacklin. It’s a gift no to give in to fear. I love that about you. You’ll be an inspiration to all of us. So hang around and keep commenting!! And you’re right… everything will always be OK again. Cheers to you. -Julia

  8. Leslie says:

    I really needed to read these words tonight. Thank you. Tomorrow I begin the book I have always wanted to write. I am scared it will be of poor quality. That it will suck eggs. That’s what frightens me. But I will create and edit until it is just what i want. Because it want to write books that make readers laugh. And when I hear the giggles the scarey moments will be so worth it.
    So. There we have it. I just wrote away my fear.
    Thanks JuJu.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Leslie. I’m so sorry I didn’t see this comment earlier. Do it. Write the book. It won’t suck eggs. And the fear of writing it is nothing compared to the fear you’ll have of NEVER writing it, and always living as a shadow of what you could be. The giggles will be there. And thanks for “writing away your fear” right here. I’m grateful for your share. Love to you.

  9. Nat says:

    Hi juju,
    Great piece of writing!
    I’ve been trying to get my business off the ground for over two years now and have come up against a solid brick wall of fears each time I try and move forward. It’s crippling me.
    Thanks for your wise words!

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hey, Nat. I do know that feeling. The only way to get past the crippling feeling is to do the next right thing. Momentum is everything. We’re here for you! Go out and kill it!!

  10. Joy says:

    I am terrified that the new business operating model I want to lead in (based on giving all I have to help others WITHOUT the need for repeat business) will be a catastrophe because it is not based on the notion of scarcity. But I’m doing it anyway because I’m being pulled into it and I’m not resisting my true nature for the first time in my life without “floaties.”

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Joy. Your business model has scarcity built right into it. There’s only one Joy. And you only have so many hours in the day. So clients who want all the help you have will need to get into line. And I’d be willing to bet that your business model will grow to include something for repeat customers once you get moving. Folks always come back for more when they’ve had something good. You’ll build that “value ladder” as you grow. For now, put one foot in front of the other, and bring your joy in ripples to the world.

  11. Sherry says:

    I’m always afraid that I won’t have any decent ideas, or that the ones I have are pointless (or have been done before, better, etc.). Especially because most of my stuff involves services, and I just can’t seem to come up with an idea that will help me generate some regular income to supplement the service-work I do that can be more sporadic.

    And then there are the what if’s – what if I’m not good enough, what if I’m not meant for this, what if I never find the right thing that makes me a decent living – all of which in my head somehow end with me completely broke, living in a cardboard box, having lost everything including my family and friends. (Hey, the mind is sometimes a terrible place to visit. LOL.)

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hey, Sherry. I absolutely understand the fear of not having any ideas — or that everything you could do or say has been done or said before. I think we all feel that on some level. But here’s the good news: no one will ever do or say anything in exactly the same way you will. So just by virtue of the fact that you’re you… you’re already an original. Put that fear aside and show the world what you’ve got. You won’t be sorry. And there will be no cardboard boxes… I promise.

  12. Joy says:

    Ahh, thank you, Julia! I love that! Thank you for your perspective!
    I’m planning the initial phase to be a scalable e-course model that won’t require 1:1 work, built on the pure intention of clients getting the tools they need so they don’t need to come back…that’s what i meant about repeat business.
    Everything IS coming together, the one step at a time, the fog clears with each step is no B.S.! It really works.
    Thank you for your response and encouragement!

  13. Cindy Ford says:

    I am in that place of turning what I love into my career. During the day, I am a graphic designer at a large church. On the evenings and weekends, I make cookies, macarons to be exact. You know, the gorgeous little French sandwiched cookies that come in endless colors and flavors? http://www.dothemacarona.com will give you a glimpse of these darling little things.

    We are located in western Pennsylvania, and the closest place to get macarons is 1.5 hours away in Pittsburgh. I have a market, I have a product, I have the dream, but I also have the fear. I am so afraid to take the next step.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      I LOVE your URL! That’s so awesome. And good for you!! It’s so cool to see women moving toward their dreams. It’s OK to be afraid. It’s normal to be afraid. If you jumped into a business without fear, you’d be cavalier. This is serious stuff — even macarons! — and we need to take it seriously. But you’ll have to step over that fear in order to get out the door. I’m right here with you…. Do it.

  14. rosie says:

    Thank you SO much for this post! What a blessing this Friday morning as I step out on faith & open up my business bank account that is currently at $0. (Gasp!) I am holding on to faith and doing this thing out of FEAR. I am so afraid & have knots in my stomach just thinking about the 15year career that I too have walked away from because it was literally making me sick. I have decided to be happy & healthy for my daughter and mostly myself to be here in this world longer. I am so afraid that we won’t be able to afford medical insurance, I’m afraid that with my current medical condition now that I am too late to pursue my business. I’m afraid that it fails & mostly that I’ll fail my family…BUT, i’m stepping out in FAITH to at least give it my 100%, because I don’t want to live in regret either. Agh! wish me luck!

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hey, Rosie. Sometimes the fear of never having followed our dreams trumps every other fear. I’m right here with you… cheering you on from the sidelines. Stay focused. Do this thing you need to do. And believe in yourself.

  15. Chanelle says:

    Thanks, Julia! I guess it is good to know that my fears and anxieties are no different than anyone else’s, and that my habits of focusing on house cleaning, laundry and anything else I can think of instead of focusing on my passions are also not unique.. I want to stand out enough to make a difference.

  16. Susan Michal says:

    Wow! It’s interesting how timely this was for me. I was thinking yesterday about how I was so busy doing eveything.. but not what really needed to be done. It is ultimate form of procrastination. I have done almost anything and everthing but what I probably need to be doing. If I had silver I probably would have polished it! I have been feeling very sorry for myself! What I realized is that my biggest fear is not getting to do what I think I am supposed to do!! This morning I was told that a friend of mines 21 year old daughter had died of a brain aneurysm. Talk about keeping things in perspective! Life has a funny ways of sending and teaching you lessons.

  17. Suzan David says:

    This was amazing Julia. Thank you so much. I have seen such fear in myself lately. I have allowed myself to get all the way to 56 without challenging my fear. No more. Thank you for the encouragement. I am going to START now.


    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hey, Suzan. I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment before now. 56 is the PERFECT time to challenge your fear. You are wise. You are able. You are ready. Go, girl. I’m right here with you!! From the heart, Juju

  18. Nancy says:

    I hated your article Julia.

    So much.

    At first anyway.

    I actually got up in the middle of it to make egg salad. I waited by the stove as the water was boiling and everything. Because your article made me so uncomfortable. Forced me to face the truth. I spend hours every day telling myself “I should do this, or that, for my business”.

    And I never do it.


    I’d rather not do it at all, on the off chance that it may not work out.

    Cause that is the road to success, didn’t you know? Sitting on your ass and hope the universe does you a solid. Don’t chase your dreams, just hang out around your house, they’ll come knocking on the door…

    I am allowing myself one last 5 minutes of procrastination. It’s writing this comment. While eating a delicious life-changing egg salad sandwich.

    Hated this article so much! 😉

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