Being Comfortable With Fear

Tami Simon, Founder and CEO of Sounds True, shares her daily experience with fear and her advice on how fear can strengthen the emerging process in this excerpt from our Grace&Fire podcast. You can listen to our full conversation, Emerging into Being, on the Emerging Women website.


Chantal Pierrat: When we emerge, there's often a fear or anxiety about the unknown. I'm curious if you have experienced fear through your career at Sounds True?

Tami Simon: I'm very comfortable with fear being a part of my life, every day. I think we're not just always emerging, as in phases of our life when we have new challenges and new opportunities to creatively express ourselves; we're actually emerging fresh in every moment. We're always truly emerging.

Fear is actually that breeze of being out of control. "I don't know what's going to happen here, and I'm entering something that is unknown." Sometimes I just open an email and I feel afraid. I read them and I think, "Really? Oh my God, I thought that this was going to happen and it's not going to happen," and I notice that my body is flushed with something that you could call fear.

I think the reason that I feel OK with it is that I love being courageous. I love seeing people act courageously and I love watching myself respond to events with courage. There wouldn't really be acts of courage, real courage, if there wasn't fear. If fear was absent, then it wouldn't require this pulling and drawing on inner strength and finding our inner resources. We would never be challenged to tap that well.


CP: Is there a particular practice that you fall on or you lean on in times when fear gets really acute?

TS: I'd say there's a practice and there's a perspective. The practice would just be tuning into the body, breathing, allowing the force of gravity, relaxing, and experiencing at a somatic level a sense of just being OK with whatever's happening in the body and letting the breath come and go in an unencumbered way.

The perspective comes from the meditation teacher that I've studied with now for 12 years, Reggie Ray, who was a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. At one point in a talk, he said, "Everything depends on how much you trust." It's a trust in what's happening, in the actual intelligence, the feedback that's coming in one's own heart, the goodness that's inside of us that we can call on and bring to the situation.


CP: If you had one piece of advice to give a woman who is in that state of emergence, where she's creating something where there is a lot of unknown and there is a lot of fear, what would it be?

TS: Again, I want to underscore that I think we are always in a state of emergence. Take one next step. Just do that. You don't have to know the whole thing. You don't have to take some huge leap. We just step. One next step leads to the next step, leads to the next step, leads to the next step.

I think part of what gets us all effed up is that we want all kinds of assurances, we want to see the big picture, we want to know where this is taking us, we want to know, "If I take one step, what's the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh step?" I don't think it's like that. I think in this very moment, there's one next step to take. One phone call to make. One journal entry to write. One piece of furniture to buy.

Then pause after the step and listen to the universe. Listen to space. Listen to the creative force. And listen for what is the next true step, the next step that's in alignment with that guidance. Some steps will feel terrifying and some won't. But once we get used to stepping, we're emerging. Our walk is a walk of emergence all the time. Constantly, new creative life is pouring out of us--new projects and new opportunities.


Dive in and take the first step with Tami Simon, Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Zainab Salbi and many other feminine visionaries at Emerging Women Live 2014 in NYC. Sign up for the FREE Livestream broadcast, Oct 9-12th.