Skip to main content

A lot of folks talk about fear when they’re starting something new… and it makes sense when you think about it. Fear used to be something that kept us out of danger, kept us alive. But when your fear is holding you back from doing something big, you have to find a way past it. For me, it starts here…

Video Transcript and Relevant Links

So, I had this question come in on the blog. “Fear… I know you must have been afraid when you first start stepping out. Say a bit about how you dealt with that.” And that’s an interesting question.

I know this comes up a lot. People are afraid. And sometimes fear is good. I mean, as humans we evolved to be afraid of saber tooth tigers and things like that. And back in those days, yeah, fear is what kept you alive. These days, most of us are not in physical danger. And so, fear is … well, it can really hold you back in big ways.

So when I was first starting out, first of all, the thing that motivated me was desperation. We were … Our family was desperate. We had no money. It was just desperate times, and I desperately needed a change. And when I started out, it’s a crazy-long convoluted tale. I’ve told you. You may have heard that story. But when I first started out, I sent out an email to 19 people, 19 people that I knew that I thought might be interested in this topic that I was publishing about, which was the stock market. I was publishing about investing in the stock market. And so, there wasn’t actually a lot of fear because, at the end of the day, if I sent out this email with this newsletter, which is just, whatever, a couple hundred words I wrote, and they didn’t like it, it was pretty small stage.

So that’s the first thing to think about. The reality is, when you’re first starting out… you’re gonna probably start on a pretty small stage. And the exposure isn’t gonna be that high. And I just used this word, “exposure” and since I do a lot of outdoor adventure things (adventure sports), that term means something, “the exposure.”

So I’ve done a lot of whitewater kayaking. And I actually got fairly good. For those of you know whitewater, I paddled a lot of hard class-four and some class-five. So class-five is potentially life threatening, you’re going over waterfalls and stuff like that. Didn’t do a lot of class-five. I did a lot of hard class-four…

But you don’t start off doing hard class-four or class-five. You start off in the swimming pool. That’s where you start. You start off with a swimming pool working on your skills, working on your roll, working on your self rescue. And then you go from there to moving water that’s still not really rapids, and then you go to class-one water. And when you’re paddling class-one, if you even looked at class-five you wouldn’t even know how to look at it. You would just see absolutely pure chaos there. You wouldn’t know how to make the decisions on how to run it, what to do, how to judge what the line is, anything like that. The exposure is too high.

I was just out skiing with my son and a bunch of his friends and they are extremely good skiers. We were out on a day where there’s just a lot of snow—it was what we call a powder day. We’d just gotten like 27 inches in 24 hours. There’s huge amounts of snow. And when there’s huge amounts of snow, my son and his friends go out … they go hunting cliffs. They go look for cliffs to jump off of. And so I … Crazy me, I was out with them. I wasn’t jumping any cliffs, but I would be able to ski around the cliffs and watch them—and they’re jumping off these things. Some of them, I think, were probably around 20-foot cliffs. I mean, it would terrify me to do that but they’re doing it because they had the capabilities to do it…

But they didn’t just step into doing 20-foot cliffs. They started off going off little one-foot jumps, and then two-foot jumps and they gradually built up the skills, so then they could go and judge it.

So what I’m getting at, when you’re starting out in business it’s just the baby-steps. You take those initial steps and you learn how to judge the next bigger steps. Like right now, I can walk … I’ve stepped out on stage in front of thousands of people, no problem, but I didn’t start off stepping out in front of thousand of people. The first time I presented was probably to 20 people, and then 30 people, and then I built up my presentation. I built up my presentation skills. I learned what to do when things go wrong, when the projector goes down, or your easel that you’re writing on falls apart. That’s happened to me. It didn’t freak me out. I didn’t have any fear because I built up the skills gradually.

So this is a huge topic. I’ll do a part two on this video. The idea of fear is a huge, huge topic. But the reality is, the way I got around it when I started out was just… I had to move into action and I was on this small stage and I gradually built my skills up. And if you look at anyone who’s done any type of performance, any type of big things, they practiced on a smaller stage first, and then they built up their capabilities. They built up their capabilities over time.

Like right now, I’m super comfortable on stage, but if you put me in front of 80,000 people and had me speaking on a topic I’ve never talked about before and said, “Jeff, you’re on in five minutes,” I’d be catatonic. I’d be freaking out. But I also have the judgment now that I wouldn’t ever accept that. I would say, “No, I’m sorry. This doesn’t fit my perimeters. I’m not stepping on stage right now.”

Long story just to say that you need to take those baby-steps. And generally, when you take those first baby-steps, who’s watching? The parents are watching. Your parents aren’t gonna yell at the baby if you fall down after your first baby-step. So when you’re just starting out, you’re probably gonna be playing in front of a small audience, or you need to figure out a way to play in front of a small audience and take your first steps there, and then it’s a process to gradually build up your skills from there.

So I’m Jeff Walker. Wherever you’re watching this, scroll down, leave a comment for me and let’s go get ’em this week.

Similar articles

Lights, Camera, Impact! How Elliott Connie Served His Way to a Million-Dollar Business and His Own Network TV Show

“Unbelievably surreal.” That’s how Elliott Connie describes his business journey. And it’s easy to see…

Behind The Scenes: Designing My New Launch Campaign

I’ve been up since 5am planning out a new offer. So this is a perfect…

How to Win at Content

There’s just no way around it – when you’re in this business, you have to…

30 Replies to “Starting in the Swimming Pool (or Facing Your Fears Pt. 1)”

  1. Scott Keyser


    Thanks, Jeff. Spot-on. I think I freak myself out looking up at the 20-foot jumps when I’m still getting to grips with the 2-foot ones. Baby steps indeed.

  2. Thank you Jeff I am those baby steps right trying to scale a business. I wish I could wave a wand and all would be be done but I know it is a process.

  3. Hey Jeff – this is much appreciated. I just launched my agency about a month ago, and I’ve been struck with the fear of not having what it takes. You’re right, just gotta get in those small reps. Just like in weightlifting they have the concept of linear progression, slowly adding weight over time. Same thing applies in business. Entrepreneurial linear progression? Doesn’t have as nice a ring to it, but the point is still there!

  4. Jeff, you speak right to my heart. You re so simple, ready and willing to share your life lessons in a humane way. Fear is here, people have to deal with it and when you say that having your own business makes you feel you are in control, makes so much sense.. You are so helpful; keep being who you are! A sweet and strong professional.

  5. Hi Jeff. It is good of you reminding us with this. It is just natural for everyone (or the majority of people) to get scared of the unknown. I do think this part of the human natural to protect us. But, to overcome that, we have to jump (regardless of the fear).
    I guess this is can only be demonstrated by individual practice and everyone has to experience it for him/herself.

    Thanks Jeff

  6. Mercedes Pelaez


    Many thanks Jeff; the beautiful thing about being in business for yourself is that you get to direct your own evolution. Sometimes taking the time along the way to maximize the systems, processes, and people we rely on to make our operation a success so that when opportunities present themselves, our business is ready to grow. I love those videos Thanks again and my best!

  7. Totally agree about small steps, but it’s the ones that take a wider leap that I’d love to hear about next! The next step sometimes is a reach, even if you know intellectually that you’re ready. I have a sales page ready to go for a couples retreat, and haven’t yet brought myself to put it out there. I have the skills, I have plenty of expertise and relevant experience, but of course no guarantees anyone will register. Sometimes the fear is not about exposure to being unable to do the thing, but the exposure and vulnerability of nobody showing up. Any advice? Thank you for all the helpful guidance!

  8. Thanks Jeff, great tópic. 12 days to PLF Live 2019, 10 days to Launch Club meeting in Phoenix. Can,t wait to be there!!

  9. In business, there are models that help us get the ideas of the “baby steps”, but in the beginning of learning to walk, the stepping out of a baby is an embodied experience — including the falls — a natural part of progress. In the interest of a physically fit body and facing our fears, we have the ability and experience to make the 2 foot jumps and then, hardly notice that we then do the 3 foot jumps, only to eventually make the 5, 10 , 15 and 20 foot jumps. Embodiment of grounding and centering, can help with calming our gremlins in business as we face decisions, set up our business model, hire people, and eventually see profit in our businesses. Thanks Jeff, I always appreciate your videos.

  10. Gabriele Guth


    Hi Jeff, its a funny coincidence : you answered Steve from Australia, he felt “isolated” and that created fear not to have success with his business. Im back from Australia just 2 weeks ago..beeing there the 5th time and thinking about how to live there because I LOVE this beautiful nature, an email with your PLF offer reaches me (via Diane). I immediately saw the big chance life was offering me and made a commitment to build my online business!! So Steve : you’re blessed living in Australia and what could be better than having an online business??? For me its the way to beeing able staying much longer in Australia (or wherever in the world)!! So thanks Jeff and commitment is definitely the strongest power to life the life you desire! See you Jeff at PLFlive in Phoenix soon..

  11. Jeff I’m currently working on a Cruise ship in USA and I was watching your webinar in August last year and didn’t take action. On the 16th of March 2019 a special guy to me give me your entire book Product Launch Formula. Man I tell you I start to read it instantly and finish it of this morning at 05:50am while sailing in to Fort Lauderdale Florida I will go forward with you

  12. What a great metaphor! I’ve never gone even whitewater rafting but I understood exactly what you meant and I can relate to starting in the swimming pool. I’m at a point in my business where, after almost 5 years, I’ve worked my butt off and I’m at a crossroads. I need to change my approach because it’s not working anymore and I’m exhausted. It feels scary. I’m back at the swimming pool with parts of it. I could walk away and say “I gave it a great shot and it’s time to throw in the towel”, but I know inside that isn’t the right thing for me. I want to find a way to free up my energy and reignite my passion in a new way, and help people in the process. Your email today validates me not walking away. Thank you!

  13. Loved this one Jeff, especially….. “No one is going to yell at the baby (for falling down on his first steps).” See you in Phoenix at PLF Live next week!

  14. Great stuff – Although I’ve been in business 20 years, I am making some shifts and doing some new good stuff right now. So this reminder to take baby steps and build up is very timely for me. Appreciate it! Best – Casey

  15. This is a great video!
    I really appreciate your looking at the importance of the baby steps, this has been vital for me in gaining confidence and know how.
    What a fabulous encouragement and reminder. Thank you !!!

  16. Thank you for this reminder Jeff! I’ve just launched my first group program (first mini launch and first group program) and have 6 people in, earning $8,000. I hoped to have 8 people and $10k, but for the first time running the program I think this is a beautiful and intimate platform to start.

  17. Excellent message and just what I needed! I often remind myself to just keep taking baby steps but I like the example/metaphor of the different levels of white water rafting and that as you learn the nuances of each level you’re prepared for the next one. Thanks again!

  18. This makes me think of our clients’ fears as well. What draws the fish out from their shelter is the need for nourishment. This fish story exemplifies how the launch formula feeds our “schools” with “nibbles” from our materials, thus enticing them to come back for more.

  19. Richard Kandiero


    Great message Jeff. Thank you. It is always difficult to do a startup but with this encouraging message I am starting to take my baby steps in my new business.

  20. Ah…perfect timing! I’m just starting my first workshops soon and I can feel the sabotage monster growing. Your post is a perfect reminder this week – baby steps! Yeah!! Thanks Jeff!!!

  21. Looking forward to hearing more next week. I am excited and afraid at the same time. I am all in and know with direction I can do this. I am trying not to be so consumed with fear that it keeps me from my objective to launch next weekend.

  22. Hi, I kept watching video after video,this is awesome information. I saw your video about expanding & contracting & being so careful about following the crowd out of fear. WOW. Spot on. I’m more aware of that now in myself, because of your video. Thanks so much

  23. Hi, Thanks for this video. I realised that it was fear keeping me back when I watched this video. It’s something I have helped others get past, but for me it manifested as procrastination and lethargy. I needed the right pointer from outside my bubble to see what was going for me.
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  24. Hey! exactly right that when you start off with a swimming pool working on your skills, working on your role, working on your self-rescue.

Your Email address will not be published.

By submitting this form you agree to our terms and conditions and our Privacy Policy.