I stepped up to the fire pit, about to do something insane. In front of me was a bed of hot burning coals twelve feet long. With a temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit – twice as hot as my Weber grill. The coals were glowing and ashed over. It looked like Hell. And I was about to walk across them barefoot.
I’m just a business person. If I had known in advance that walking barefoot across hot burning coals would be part of this event with Tony Robbins, I wouldn’t have attended.
In that moment, looking at the hot coals, I felt fear like I’ve never felt before.
I also felt the heat on my face, radiating from the embers. These coals were real.
Everything I had ever learned in my life had my brain telling me “don’t do it! It’s going to hurt!”
Applying What I Learned
But we had just learned and repeatedly practiced techniques for how to break through fear and not let it stop us. And I applied what I learned.
I put myself in a peak state to accomplish my goal. A state in which I felt unstoppable. Felt more powerful than ever before. Felt complete and utter certainty about what I was about to do. That’s a damn good way to feel when you want to get something done.
Not So Fast…
Then just before I was about to take my first step, they said, “Hold on. We’ve got new hot coals for you.”
Apparently, they thought the coals weren’t hot enough.
“Seriously?,” I said to myself, shaking my head in disbelief. “Just before I go, they bring out even hotter coals?”
And they poured a large bucket of fresh hot burning coals onto the fire pit in front of me.
I thought to myself, “It’s not every day I walk barefoot across hot burning coals. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it all the way. So bring it! Bring the hottest coals you’ve got! Bring it on!”
I put myself in a peak state again.
And I took my first step onto the hot burning coals.
With each step I took, I applied the techniques we had learned to focus my thinking on accomplishing my outcome – despite the distraction of the hot burning coals.
In five strides, I reached the end of the bed of coals and stepped onto the lawn on the other side. Unscathed. And I celebrated!
Yes, I conquered my fear and walked barefoot across 1,200 degree hot burning coals, without getting burned.
The Most Important Step
Before I accomplished this, I thought that the most important step I’d take would be the last step, when I completed the firewalk.
With time to reflect, I now realize that the most important step was the first step I took. Taking the first step despite my initial fear. Despite all my past experiences that would say to not take that step. Despite not knowing if I could do it.
There’s no practical application to walking barefoot across hot burning coals (unless you want to impress guests at a backyard BBQ, which I don’t recommend doing). So what’s the practical application?
Today, I know that if I can conquer that fear of walking across hot burning coals, I can conquer any fear that I have in business.
As an entrepreneur, every day fear can stop you and your team from taking the first step. Stop you and your team from getting things done.
My point is this. When you feel fear, put yourself in a peak state. Then take that first step. Focus on your outcome despite the distractions. You’ll turn fear into power. And get things done that most people would think are impossible.
What do YOU think? How do YOU kick fear’s ass in your business and in life? Post in the comments section, I’d love to hear your story.
Bonus: NBC News Video of Tony Robbins fire walk:
My friend Todd Schnick has put together a wonderful compilation of stories about how people kicked fear’s ass (my story is essay #32). In an ebook that’s free. You should get it and read the rest of the stories! Download the free e-book.
Todd and I are collaborating on writing a full-scale book, titled (what else) “Kicking Fear’s Ass”. Do you have a story you’d like to tell us for the book? Get in touch with me.
e-book cover illustration by the remarkable David Cohen!