You Can’t Have Courage Without Fear

Exactly a year before I opened the brick and mortar location for Mo-Mentum Fitness, I sat in a chair across from my Mentor Todd Durkin, at a retreat. Tears of frustration ran down my cheeks. I wanted to open Mo-Mentum Fitness so badly that every day it wasn’t open it actually hurt me! However my passion for my dream wasn’t enough. I kept ending up in the same place; stuck at square one.

Todd listened to everything I had to say then he paused for a moment before he spoke, “Amanda, I hear you. But I really think the only thing holding you back from this dream is sitting in that chair with you.” Then he asked the big question, “What are you afraid of?”

I was afraid of failing. More specifically, I was afraid of losing all of the money I was about to invest, of letting my family down, letting Todd down, letting my Mastermind friends down. I didn’t even have a location picked out yet. However, I think the confirmation that my dream could actually happen was exhilarating and petrifying at the same time. Todd’s question about what I feared that day opened my eyes and helped me change my perception of the obstacles that were preventing me from moving forward with my dream of opening my own wellness center, Mo-Mentum Fitness. I couldn’t find the right building, I couldn’t find the funding, my mom had been sick and I’m sure there were other reasons I don’t even remember.   These obstacles were real, but they were NOT the reason I hadn’t moved forward with my business. It was fear that was holding me back and the “obstacles” were just fear dressed up as “good” reasons for not moving forward. Admit it, we ALL know that if we REALLY want something in our lives, we will figure out a way to make it happen, obstacles or not.


Then Todd asked me, to picture myself looking back at my life, 70 years from now, would I rather have played it safe and not tried to open the Mo-Mentum Fitness brick and mortar location? My answer was, “No.” I would rather look back at my life and know that I truly taken every measure to achieve my dreams. I decided that day that I would rather take action and fail then to not try at all. I also learned that day that I had a bigger fear, this one was a valid fear; looking back at my life and realizing I missed my chance to live the life of my dreams was much more frightening to me than failing.

My question to you is, “What is that one big dream you need to start moving towards today?” What’s the dream that quietly tugs at you and just won’t go away? The dream that just sits in your belly and your head and taunts you? Are you ready to lose that extra 50 pounds, start a new job, talk to someone you know who can help you move your career or life forward but who might reject you? Whatever your goal is, make sure that you aren’t letting your life fall into stagnation because you are allowing fear to hold you back.


Fear comes in many forms like the fear of failing, fear of getting hurt, or fearing looking bad in front of your peers. Fear also has many disguises. It can look like obstacles such as responsibilities that you have to others in your life or that you are too busy, or you don’t have enough money. If you don’t uncover how your fear is disguising itself, it will keep your life stagnant and small. Failing, getting hurt, mistakes, are all simply stepping stones to where you want to go with your life. Human’s are meant to struggle and fail, that’s how we learn. Somehow, over the past several hundred years we have started to believe that happy lives mean that we don’t struggle. That’s simply just not true.


Fear has a very important reason to exist in our lives, it is meant to keep us from harming ourselves. Our brains are equipped with an area called the amygdala and other protective mechanisms that have been put in place to keep us safe. This means fear is a biological necessity and it’s NEVER going to NOT be a part of our lives. However, all of us have experienced fear that restricts our lives instead of keeping us safe. So we must learn to question fear in order to make sure its actually serving the right purpose. Fear that detours us from taking risks that can lead to success may be restricting your life instead of protecting it.


In her book Big Magic (Click on the words Big Magic to order this awesome book), Elizabeth Gilbert explains writing her next book like going on a road trip. In her “car,” (her hypothetical road trip to writing her next book/working on her dreams) she will be bringing both creativity, courage AND fear. Because fear is going to come either way, Gilbert makes make room in her car for fear.  If you think about it, you can’t have courage without fear, they’re twins. You also can’t be creative without fear, that’s what makes creativity so special. When you don’t fight fear but instead acknowledge that fear is going to be a part of your life, you can make room in your car for fear. Here’s the best part, when you know fear is coming on your road trips (towards your dreams) with you, you get to set the rules. Fear sits in the back seat; your creativity and ingenuity will be sitting in the front seat with your. Fear can have a voice in the conversation, however, fear is NEVER allowed to have a vote, suggest detours or provide any sort of directions. Fear is not even allowed to decide on the temperature in the car or chose a radio station. But above all else, fear is NEVER allowed to drive the car. Cool analogy right?

I have come to understand, that the process of working on your dreams, naturally incurs disappointment, failure, pain and many moments when you will doubt yourself. But hardships are NOT reasons to give up on your dreams. Just like good times, bad times pass too! If dreams came easy we would ALL achieve them on a daily basis and no one would even care. Fear and courage can’t exist without one another. The same goes for success and struggle. Instead, chose to accept that hardships are simply stepping-stones on the way to success and get on with your journey to live your best life possible.

Picture of Amanda Mittleman

Amanda Mittleman

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