Don’t Be Foolish, Be WISE & Use Your Fears to Create Success


There is a Chinese proverb that says:

“When I was afraid, I was foolish. I am still afraid, but now I am wise.”

Well, not sure if it really is a Chinese proverb, I heard it Cantonese while in Hong Kong from a gray-haired, goat-teed, street-chess player as his opponent was pondering the next move. It sounds like it should be a proverb though, maybe it is…

Foolishness is acting immediately on impulses; acting on what we think is easiest. Foolishness comes by not learning from our mistakes. Fear can drive success or fear can encourage foolishness. Fear is evidenced in letting our actions be determined by outside influences.

I was afraid so many times in my life. I was afraid every time I tried out for sports teams from junior high through high school. I was afraid when I tried-out and made the BYU football team as a walk-on. I was afraid when I moved to Hong Kong, London, New York, Yuma, San Diego, and Houston. I was afraid when I wanted to ask my future wife to dance. I was afraid when I got fired. I was afraid when I became a father. I was afraid when I was promoted to lead a sales team. I am still afraid. I am afraid when I talk to customers. I am afraid when I teach classes. I am afraid I will not add value. I am afraid I will not serve enough.

Fear is the number 1 reason we do not achieve our potential. Fear kills success

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. Fear prevents action. Overcoming fear is a skill all of us can learn. Just like a muscle, the more we use it, the stronger it gets. Overcoming fear is not a race. It takes time.

Successful people understand that fear can be used as a tool to drive success. They have experience. They are have done it before. They are WISE:

W:       Welcome The Fear
I:          Interrogate The Fear
S:         Separate The Fear
E:         Employ The Fear


Fear is often an obstacle. Overcoming obstacles increases our confidence. When we are W.I.S.E. with our fears we are in control. When we are W.I.S.E. we are becoming the masters of our own emotions and more importantly, the masters of our actions. Embrace your fears. Interrogate your fears then separate your fears from your own sense of self-worth, and finally employ your fears to help motivate you take the needed action that will drive you to success. I am proud of my fear. Now, I let my fear serve me. Success is always found on the other side of fear.

6 Secrets Successful People Know About Emotional Competence


Words spoken cannot be unsaid. A few years ago I was in a meeting with a cross-functional leadership team and my boss (who seemed successful); and I had just announced a new plan that would drastically change our customer approach. The idea was not only shot down, but I was belittled in front of the team. The boss even asked if I had “been living under a rock the past 6 months?”. Of course I handled it wrong, I felt the shame first and then the anger rise, and rise until I was going to put my boss in his place

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. At the last second, I remembered a book about emotional intelligence (Daniel Goleman’s) that I had just finished and realized I better not say what was about to be said. So I held my tongue and kept quiet.

The situation was handled wrong though. If I was more emotionally competent I would not have just kept quiet but I would have done a better job of reading the entire situation, understanding my emotions and the emotions of others, and knowing what words to speak and questions to ask in order to move the agenda forward. At that moment the situation was handled wrong because of a lack of emotional competence. Eventually with the effective use of one-on-one discussions the new approach was approved by my manager. Yet, I never trusted him again after the words he spoke, since once words are spoken, they can never be unsaid.

Success, Learning from Others, and Emotional Competence 

We all want success. How we define success might be different, but we all want it. (Jeff Haden has a great article about how we define success) It could be based on financial & professional goals, relationship goals, skill based goals, travel goals, or health goals. Whatever success you are searching for, there are actions that you can take to help you get there. Sometimes it is important to follow the lead of those who have been successful before us. Learning from others helps us shorten our time from where we are to the success we are pursuing. Finding joy in the journey is key to happiness. No matter what else is surrounding you, if you are happy you are successful. For me, success and true happiness is found from understanding who I am, pursuing my talents, building strong relationships and helping others.

One main skill that successful people have is the ability to understand and work well with their own emotions and the emotions of others. This is often called emotional intelligence. Last week I learned the difference between Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Competence (thanks LaRae Quy). Competence includes action; intelligence is theoretical.

These actions separate the emotionally competent from everyone else:

Emotionally Competent People Do These 6 Things: 

1. They Open Lines of Communication

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

2. They Thrive on Feedback

“I think a lot of times if you get feedback that is critical, your emotions might flare up and you might reject it. You need to be able to dial it back, calm down and listen to what they’re saying, because maybe they’re right.” – Laura Brown

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Ken Blanchard

3. They Are People Centered

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” – Arianna Huffington

“If you make a person feel smart and insightful, that person will enjoy your company more.” – Gretchen Rubin

4. They Only Speak When Adding Value

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.” – George Eliot 

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” – Benjamin Franklin

5. They Recognize and Respond to Emotions

“Our feelings are not there to be cast out or conquered. They’re there to be engaged and expressed with imagination and intelligence.” – T.K. Coleman

“An emotion does not cause pain. Resistance or suppression of emotion causes pain.” – Frederick Dodson

6. Use Smart &  Effective Body Language

“In short, our body language, which is often based on prejudices, shapes the body language of the people we’re interacting with.” – Amy Cuddy

“Sure, your personality and your emotional state will impact your confidence levels, but it’s obvious that assuming better body language, taking up space, and expanding your physical presence can play an important role as well.” – James Clear

In order to do those 6 things well you need 4 foundational skills:

Dr. Travis Bradberry teaches that emotional intelligence has 4 specific skills:

  1. Self-awareness (Personal Competence)
  2. Self-management (Personal Competence)
  3. Social-awareness (Social Competence)
  4. Relationship-management (Social Competence) 

These skills can be learned. As we focus on recognizing and labeling our own emotions we then can begin to focus on others. The more we focus our thoughts and actions on others, the more we are able to develop our own emotional competence. The purpose of success is to create and find (recognize) happiness along our journey. The more people we can help become successful, the more we will find our own personal success.

“Emotional self-control…delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness- underlies accomplishment of every sort.”- Daniel Goleman

10 Traits of Confident People

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage...Go out and get busy.” —Dale Carnegie

  1. They take responsibility. They don’t blame others. No matter what the circumstance is, a confident person understands that ownership of results, feelings, and emotions is the only true path to success.
  2. They focus on their strengths. Confident people know their strengths and weaknesses, they understand their abilities and they continuously look to improve themselves while focusing on using their strengths.
  3. Confident people crave progress. They don’t aspire for perfection, they drive for improvement. To a confident person, the “perfect person” is one who knows who they really are and fully embraces their own possibilities. Improvement is a choice as well as a journey.
  4. They uplift others, they don’t gossip. Confident people don’t talk about other people, they talk about ideas, projects,  goals, plans and aspirations. They recognize the importance of staying neutral.
  5. They understand the ‘Power’ of saying no. Confident people don’t over-promise. They understand the value of time and effort and are conscious to commit to things that are aligned with their ultimate goals, passions, and beliefs. By doing this, confident people can give their 100% at all times.
  6. The focus on the end goal and the actions needed to get there. They don’t waste their time worrying. Time is valuable. Confident people spend their energy on what they can control, on their circle of influence.
  7. They honor their bodies and minds. Confident people know that they need to take care of themselves to do and be their best. They value balance which includes exercise, hard-work, relationships, eating well, education, and sleep.
  8. They know their “WHY”.  The reason behind the action drives the enthusiasm. They are excited, dedicated, passionate and fearless.  They share their passion with others.
  9. They ask for help. Often. Confident people know that trying to accomplish everything alone is not possible. Confident people don’t feel threatened by seeking help from others

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  10. They view failure as a learning moment. They don’t see failures as the end but instead as a tool to grow. They recognize that on the road to success there will always be trials, challenges, and obstacles but they know that perseverance always wins in the end.

Mindset for Success


Success through achievement is more than action – it is a mindset.  Often, we think that success is based on physical execution of specific tasks. When in reality true success is having the ability to control our responses to the world around us

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. When we control our thoughts, emotions, and attitude our actions will take care of themselves.

Whatever has happened to us in the past cannot be changed, but more important: nothing ever really “happens” to us. There is the environment and then there are our responses to that environment. Our outcomes are determined by our ability to control our thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions.

The famous author and pastor Charles Swindol said:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

When it comes to success in work and life everyone talks about execution. In reality execution is only 10% of the equation. The action is important, yet before the action can build the results, the foundation needs to be made sure. Our attitude, the other 90% is the true determinant of success.  Our attitude is what success is built upon.

While easier said then done, creating the proper mindset for success is the most important act anyone of us takes in order to truly fulfill our potential. In order to create the foundation for our minds, we need to do three things:

  1. Erase Excuses. There are many things out of our control, those things do not matter. Other people who detract from our potential need to be removed from our lives (or at least their influence).  It is not the economy’s fault. It is not our boss’s fault. It is not because of lack of opportunity. Everyone has a different story and a different path to success.
  2. Embrace Change. In order to reach new levels of success you must reach higher, stand taller, do things today that you were not doing yesterday. Therefore change your habits of today and create new ones that coincide with your real potential.
  3. Enlighten through Education. Read, listen, and learn. Study those who have been successful. Read more. Read often. Read success stories, biographies, and inspirational stories. Read material that helps you become an expert in your field. Read material from other fields. Be curious. Thirst for knowledge. The mind and soul need to be refueled, often. In order to make sure the garden of the mind is well groomed, it has to be filled with proper thoughts and ideas.

Incredible levels of success are created when the mindset that creates the action takes responsibility for all outcomes, is willing to change and is humble enough to keep learning.

– Mareo McCracken