Fear is a funny thing, the way that it works in our minds.

But fears are not facts.

Regardless, we allow them to control us without being fully aware of what we're really afraid of.

Fears often work in the background. And they can work against you in very unproductive ways.

A project I have been working on this year really put me to the test in terms of facing my own fears.

I am a singer-songwriter. It's something I do for fun. It's not something I do to make a living. I also play the guitar. I write all of my own music and lyrics.

Creating a song is something I deeply enjoy. I love coming up with the melody and the lyrics, and putting the whole thing together. It's just something I'm very passionate about. Songwriting fulfills me in a unique way.

The first time I officially entered a ‘real’ studio to record was 2010. I worked with a local band, and I had no idea what I was doing. The product (my songs) that came from that experience turned out fine. But I was not near as confident in my abilities as I am today.

That's been one of the by-products of facing my fears in terms of putting my music out there which is a very vulnerable thing to do. Each time I do it, I have more courage to do it the next time.

Last year for Christmas, my spouse gave me a really cool gift. It was to go to a singer-songwriter workshop in Nashville to work with a gal named Mary Gauthier (If you've never listened to her music, she's amazing).

I went to her workshop in January and fell in love with the whole process. It was a three-day workshop with a total of twenty students and one professional singer-songwriter instructor.

I loved it so much that I went back four more times this year to work with seasoned singer-songwriters. Each time, I learned something new that I could apply to my own craft.

These workshops tested one of my deepest fears, which is being vulnerable.

At each workshop, I had to get up in front of my peers and the singer-songwriters who were leading us and play one of my songs that would be ‘critiqued’.

I have never been so scared in my entire life. In the beginning workshops, my body would just have this physical response of sweating, shaking and shallow breathing, which is a disaster.

Trust me, you can’t sing if you can’t breathe. And you can’t play the guitar if you’re shaking!

I’ve been on a stage many times as a speaker. I was even a high school teacher for two years!

I'm typically not scared at all of speaking in front of a crowd. But sharing a personal piece of me (my songs) while having to sing and play simultaneously in front of my peers and professionals is just a different ball of wax. There are so many variables at play!

For the first three workshops, I got up there and really bombed. I mean, I was terrible. Even I was embarrassed for me!

But then something strange happened. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to die performing my songs, each time it got a little bit easier.

The reality is that the worst that can happen to me is I can mess up, forget my words, or have to stop and start again. Once my brain was able to understand this, it helped to ease my nerves.

Something else happened along this songwriting journey. My goal changed. Now I wanted to go from amateur to pro. I wanted to be really good!

The only way to make that happen was to push through it each time as painful as it was until it wasn’t so painful anymore.

You’ll have to listen to this episode if you want to hear about the homeopathic spray I used to calm my physical nerves! Wow, was it a life-saver.

This fear experience required me to put myself in a situation where I was deeply afraid and uncomfortable. And the benefits that have come from it have been incredible.

The relationships I've built, the music I've been able to create, and the confidence I've gained in my ability to perform in front of a live audience, are some of those benefits.

I’ve also written the best songs of my life (so far) as a result of what I learned.

Recently I recorded my second ever album in Austin, Texas. I feel great about this record because I was able to bring my new level of confidence into the studio this time. And I think it’s really going to pay off.

Here are 4 tips that I learned about overcoming your fears:

  1. Be aware of and acknowledge your fear
  2. Put yourself out there in the uncomfortable situation
  3. Practice, practice, practice
  4. Keep your eye on the prize

Remember, fear can run in the background and direct your mind. That fear is not factual. It’s something you’ve made up because of an experience in your life.

Your fears are not real. You can defeat them if you are courageous.

I'll tell you this. When you follow these four steps, you are going to be 10x ahead of all those people who are sitting on the sidelines watching. Get in the game. You can't compete, you can't play if you don't get in the game.

Now, go out there and conquer your fears!

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