#696 Fear Doors - Part I

Walked Through Any Lately?

Revisiting our Conquering Fear discussion, Today I’d like to talk about something I’m calling “Fear Doors.”

I want to talk about the fact that (at least some of) your greatest (!) achievements—the stuff that has made you most proud and most positively impacted your life—came right on the other side of doing something you were afraid to do.

You walked through a Fear Door.

And… Voilà! Your life changed.

(Can you think of any times like that?)

Today I’ll share a little story from my life as we shine a light on a few of those moments in YOUR life.

(Side note: See the +1 on the Science of Regret.)


I’ll kick the vulnerability party off with one of my own stories.

Once upon a time, when I was a 22-year-old with a full head of hair and big dreams to leave my little job as an accountant-consultant to go to a Top Law School to get my stamp from society telling me I’d made it (hah), I studied hard for the LSAT.

My score on the initial diagnostic was above average but not phenomenal. (I seem to recall it being around the 68th percentile).

But, alas, I was a hard-working lad even back then. I bought (literally!) every single LSAT ever written and started taking them when I wasn’t studying with my private (Princeton Review) tutor (for whom I forked out a sizable part of my net worth! lol).

Now, I had a 3.71 GPA from UCLA and I seem to recall thinking that a 173 (out of 180—which is 99th%) would a) give me a great shot at getting into a great school and b) look nice and symmetrical—3.71/173, baby!! (← how numerically palin dromo sexy is that?! Hah!)

So… I hustled. Every day after work I rushed home to study. Worked all weekend. Repeat. (I get tears in my eyes as I type that—feeling the younger me crushing it.)

Test day shows up.

At this point I’d kinda like to get a perfect score.

Now, bear in mind: a) I hadn’t achieved that in all the prior tests I’d taken but I’d taken so many prep tests by that point that I felt like I could WRITE an LSAT let alone take one; and, more importantly (and unfortunately) b) I hadn’t taken Conquering Perfectionism 101 yet (this is 20 years ago and I had much more hair than gray whiskers, folks! 😲).

So… Back to test day. I sit down to take the test. It’s old school (1996!!) so we’re talking pen and paper here for the exam.

I open the first section.


I can’t even finish the first section.

I totally choke. I have to bubble in the last 4 answers.

C. C. C. C.

I’m sweating profusely.

My internal dialogue goes something like this: “What just happened?” “And what do I do?” “Did I just miss out on my opportunity to fulfill my dream of going to a great law school.” “OMG. Should I just walk out right now and spare myself the embarrassment of totally screwing up?!”

← That was literally what was going through my head. (I get a little misty eyed typing that feeling into that sheer panic.)

I’m not sure how I pulled it together but I did. Somehow I managed to get focused. I turned the page. And started the next section.

Weeks later I called the automated testing service to get my score.

Can you guess what it was?


99.6th percentile or something.

Good enough to have a bunch of the Top 10 law schools I hoped to get in to sending ME letters asking me to apply.

I wound up deciding to go to the best public school on the list (1/2 the tuition, folks! lol) and briefly attended UC Berkeley (Class of 2000!).

Why am I sharing that?

Because that test (and its score) changed my life.

I walked through the Fear Door and BAM!

Literally, a different life.

I can tell you about a bunch of other times the same thing happened.

I’ll spare you the details but here’s another quick example. There’s the time I almost didn’t enter the business plan competition at UCLA’s Anderson School because “we weren’t ready/good enough.” I was so stressed out (hadn’t watched Conquering Anxiety 101 yet, folks!) that I literally ripped my closet door off. (I can laugh now.)

Somehow I pulled myself together, forked out what was a HUGE chunk of change to fly out to LA and then pay for color printouts of our plan (that was a big investment at the time—lol).

(Oh! Can’t forget: I had the “oops I pooped my pants” incident I described in Public Speaking 101 as well. 😵)

Multiple Fear Doors. I crawled/clawed my way through them.

Result: We won.

Then we raised $5m, hired the CEO of adidas to replace me as the 25-year-old CEO, etc. etc. etc.

Fear Door. Went through it. Life changed.

For now…

That’s WAY more than enough from me.

I share those stories simply to shine a spotlight on YOU.

Today’s +1.

Two parts.

1. Have you ever walked through a Fear Door that changed your life? (Of course you have. What’s one example?!)

2. Are you currently standing in front of a Fear Door that you need to walk through? (My hunch is you are. What is it?! And, if you’re not, dream bigger will ya!)

Open the Fear Door.

Walk through it.

It’s nice and bright and shiny on this side of the chasm that’s really a crack.

Fear Doors Part 2

Fear Doors Part 3

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