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Fear and Permission

When you speak at a Carnegie Mellon University event with Fearless as the theme, you’ve got a couple things to consider.

One: it’s TedX! It’s Carnegie Mellon! Yikes. Intimidating audience of extremely smart people with high expectations. But two: since the event is about overcoming fear, no one will be surprised when you admit to your own fears.

In the 18-minute TED format, I talked about crocodiles, killer whales, strawberries, dropping keys, and writing your own permission slip. It’s fairly personal, so if you’re not interested, no problem.

I enjoyed the event and even enjoyed my part, which is miraculous since I’m usually scared to death of such things. The TED guardians finally released the video, and you can see it here if you’re interested:

A few notes and highlights:

Many of us live our lives out of the fear of what other people think of us. We’re waiting for someone to give us a permission slip that tells us it’s OK to be ourselves.

The exotic is rarely the scary part. Moving to West Africa wasn’t scary at all. CHANGE is the scary part. Leaving your home is scary. Walking on a stage is scary. Packing, leaving, taking a leap—those are the scary things.

Don’t try to be fearless or pretend you aren’t impacted by fear. Just try to prevent fear from making your decisions for you.

My thanks to Sachit, Yongho, and the whole TEDxCMU team for organizing the event. You can see photos of the day here.

Last but not least, my friend Jonathan Fields was the anchor speaker for the whole event, and it’s easy to see why they chose him for the honor—check out his video here. If you can only watch one of our talks, watch his!