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Fear can hold us back from stepping out, leaning in or stepping up to the challenges that inspire us and ultimately becoming the person we’re meant to be.
How can we overcome our fears and embrace the obstacles that stand in our way?
Ruth Soukup is going to help us answer that question today.
She’s a 5 time-Best Selling Author who is dedicated to helping women overcome their fear and create a life they love. Her practical advice and resources have been featured in numerous publications and news programs, including Time, Entrepreneur and Fox News.
Her new book, Do it Scared: Finding the Courage to Face your Fears, Overcome Adversity, and Create a Life You Love is available this month.
Andy Hill: I understand you surveyed more than 4,000 people about the role fear plays in their lives. What did you learn?
Ruth Soukup: I talk to so many people all the time who feel like they’re sitting on the sidelines of their life who feel afraid to jump in and afraid to go after their goals and dreams wholeheartedly. And it got me so curious. I wanted to dig deeper so I started asking questions. It blew up into this huge survey. And this study of more than 4,000 people.
But what we discovered was ultimately that not all fear is created equal. The way fear looks like in our lives is really unique to the individual. It’s a little bit different for everyone. So we each have our own sort of fingerprint if you will of fear in the way that it plays out in our lives. And it’s what we do with that information that is so key to overcoming it.
You’ve developed “Fear Archetypes” from this research … What are they are and how are they different?
What we found is that while fear looks different for everyone, there were 7 very distinct patterns and that’s what we called the “Fear Archetypes”.
So for some people who are the “Procrastinator/Perfectionist,” there’s the fear of making a mistake. That’s the underlying fear versus someone like the “Outcast” where their fear is being rejected. And so for the “Outcast”, the way that often manifests is rejecting other people before they can be rejected.
For the “Rule Follower”, the fear of stepping outside of the lines or this sort of perception that there’s somebody out there who’s gonna get mad if they do something wrong and don’t follow the rules. For the “People Pleaser”, the fear is what other people will think of you, the fear of being judged or the fear of letting other people down.
So why that all matters so much is that it’s sort of like when you go to the doctor and tell the doctor I don’t feel good or you know something’s wrong. And the doctor has to make the diagnosis before you can find the cure. And it’s essential and fear works the same way as so much of the stuff that happens with fear happens without us really even realizing it. It happens subconsciously and then you know that that little voice in the back of your head that’s talking to you that we think is telling us the truth.
But it’s actually not. And it’s actually based in fear. And so as soon as we can make that diagnosis and start to recognize those patterns in our life that’s when we can actually start to do something about it.
How have you dealt with fear in your life?
Oh my goodness so many ways.
When I was in my early 20’s, I went through a really bad depression. I attempted suicide multiple times and I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and ended up with two serious suicide attempts that almost ended my life.
I was in a coma on life support with less than a 10% chance of coming out of it. And at the end of that whole experience with depression, I finally reached the end of all my treatment options. The doctor sent me home and said there’s nothing more we can do for you.
I had electroshock therapy and had every kind of medication. Nothing had really been effective and so they gave up and said: “We don’t know what else to do for you.” And that was where I really hit rock bottom realizing at 24 years old that I had no friends left. I had dropped out of school, was divorced, had filed for bankruptcy because hospitals are expensive and I had literally lost everything that you could possibly lose in your life.
And I also had no hope that anything was ever going to better. The doctors had basically told me we don’t think that we can do anything more for you. There’s no hope for you. And that was sort of I mean there’s no feeling more terrifying than that and feeling like you were at 24 years old have ruined your life.
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How did you rise out of the depression?
I was at my Dad’s house because he couldn’t turn me away even though he didn’t really want me there. And I laid in bed for months and finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. He finally convinced me to start going to the gym just three days a week and go walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes.
And so that for me that moment was literally putting one foot in front of the other on the treadmill and then I would go right back to bed. But it gave me just enough motivation to realize that maybe it feels hopeless right now but maybe it’s not hopeless. Maybe there is something more I can do.
And so at that point, I called a new therapist and I said, “I’ve spent the last two and a half years talking about every bad thing that’s ever happened to me and I don’t want to do that anymore. I am terrified that I have ruined my life and I just need to know how to live now.”
That was what she helped me do. And I saw her for another two and a half years after that. And it just she just helped me basically learn how to function as a normal adult human being again. Starting with how to go to the grocery store without having a panic attack and then getting a part-time job, getting an apartment and getting a full-time job. And then going back to school to finish my degree and applying to law school and getting a dog and making new friends.
What were the positive messages filling your head during this time in your life?
I think I was working towards this big goal of just getting out of my dad’s house and getting my own apartment.
There were big goals and milestones along the way but once I had then moved into an apartment and gotten a real job I realized I’d always wanted to go to law school. This is something I really wanted to do. I didn’t only want to go to law school, I wanted to also go to business school and so I was going to do a dual degree program get my JD and MBA.
This is a big goal and I didn’t just want to do any old law school. I was like, “I want to go to a top 20 law school.” That was a pretty big project and I think that gave me a lot to do. It was a lot to focus on.
There’s something so satisfying in the striving part because I got to law school and as it turns out law school was like the worst place on the planet for me. I am I mean my motto is “Rules are for Suckers”. And I realized that maybe law school was not going to be a good fit for me because it is very rule oriented. And it was I struggled a lot.
I had thankfully by then met the man who would be my husband. He had quit his job and moved to St. Louis with me so that I could start law school. And here he bought a house because we were planning to be there for four years and about seven months into it I was so miserable.
He’s like, “You know you can quit you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”
And I looked at him I was like, “Oh my gosh! What are you talking about? I can’t quit. You quit your job, you moved cross-country with me and you bought a house. I’ve ruined your life. And you’re going to tell me that it’s okay to quit?”
He’s like, “I’ll still love you.”
And that was I think for me the most one of the most powerful lessons ever to realize it’s OK to change your path and it’s OK to pivot. And it’s really important to have the right people in your life who will love you and support you no matter what.
What advice would you have for someone who’s looking to pivot into business ownership like you did?
The first thing I want to say is that there are so many opportunities online these days for somebody who is just trying to figure out what they want to do. I think we live in the most exciting times imaginable.
15 years ago there were no podcasts there were no blogs. Internet marketing and having an online business wasn’t really a thing yet. And maybe it was just starting but very few people were in it. And now the doors are wide open and it’s so accessible. It’s low risk if you really think about it compared to a lot of other businesses you’d start 15 or 20 years ago like starting a franchise.
And then the fact that there is so much great information out there too about teaching you how to do it online courses and podcasts and there’s and so much education. I mean to the point where it can probably be a little bit overwhelming.
You just need to set your intention. “If I was going to do anything what would it be. What does this look like to me?” And then break down that big goal into more manageable bites.
What does that look like for this year? What does that look like for this month? When I break that down. What does that look like for this week and what does that look like today?
Because the problem for so many of us is that life is busy and there’s always a million things. And if you’ve got little kids running around and even kids at home there are always so many things going on and so many tornadoes that are spinning around that if you don’t make the time for your big goals every single day.
If you don’t put that as your top priority the time will go away. It will. It will go away. We won’t ever have it. But when you can take 30 minutes a day and focus on this whatever this big goal is that you want to go after, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can make progress.
How did you start your business?
I started my business after I dropped out of law school I went through a few years of trying to find my place. I worked for a while. Then we ended up having a couple of kids.
And in 2010 I was a stay at home mom of our 3-year-old and 1-year-old. My husband was working but he hated his job as an Aerospace Engineer. He was a good provider but just hated what he was doing and I didn’t really like being at home. I was very dissatisfied. I love working and I love being busy and didn’t have a lot of friends or people in my network at that time we moved back to Florida.
And so I was spending a lot of time at Target with my kids because we had no other place to go. It’s too hot to play outside. But Target’s not a cheap hobby. It really adds up. Every minute that I was spending at Target was another hour that he had to spend at work and that was starting to like really affect our relationship in such a bad way.
We were fighting more and more about money and I knew something had to give. And so a friend had sent me a link to a blog a couple of months earlier and she’s like, “Oh, isn’t this cute? If I have had all the time in the world I think this is something that I would do.” And I looked at it and I had not been on the in the online world that much up to that point and thought, “Oh my gosh. This is cute! I think I could do something like that.”
So my husband and I have this big fight about money and I decided that I was going to find a new hobby and that was going to be starting a blog called Living Well, Spending Less. First of all, if I can make my way back from this terrible depression that I told you about. If I can completely ruin my life and 15 years later be talking to you as the New York Times Best Selling Author and the owner of a 7-figure company then literally it doesn’t matter how badly you screwed up your life. There is so much hope for you.
Secondly, if I can start a business called Living Well, Spending Less when I am like the world’s worst money manager, then you can literally start a business about anything. You do not have to be an expert. My take was that I’m struggling with this but here, I’m going to share my journey with you.
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Carpe Diem Quote
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”