Fighting Your Biggest Fear with Adam Smith and Living Your Life In The Front Row with Marilyn Sherman

Fear is the number one block to success- the fear of inadequacy, uncertainty, failure, rejection, missing out, change, losing control, being judged, and others. Author and blogger Adam Kirk Smith wrote his first book, The Bravest You, about it, feeling that it needed to be first because so many people deal with it. Become your bravest you as Adam shares how you can fight fear and live a successful life.


If life were a venue, where would you sit? Unfortunately, a lot of people settle for general admission seats when they could be giving themselves permission to move to the front because the view is so much better. Author and keynote speaker Marilyn Sherman says general admission is where most people are, in their comfort zone. They live and operate their lives without stretching themselves. The biggest obstacle that prevents people from living their life in the front row is fear. Marilyn shares how you can overcome those obstacles and move your chair closer to the front row of life.

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear

I’m so glad you joined us because we have Adam Kirk Smith and Marilyn Sherman. Adam is the author of The Bravest You. He also is a blogger. He’s in Twitter. He’s everywhere. You’ve seen his work. We’re going to talk about bravery and fear. Marilyn Sherman is the NSA Speaker Hall of Fame inductee. She’s also the author of multiple books including Is There A Hole In Your Bucket List?

Listen to the podcast here

Fighting Your Biggest Fear with Adam Smith

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear
The Bravest You: Five Steps to Fight Your Biggest Fears, Find Your Passion, and Unlock Your Extraordinary Life

I am here with Adam Kirk Smith who is the author of The Bravest You. Because of his work as an entrepreneur, consultant, writer and speaker, he’s been named as a top industry influencer by American Genius. With more than 65,000 monthly readers and 280,000 Twitter followers, has become a top leadership blog. He is a very interesting guy. Welcome, Adam.

It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

I am interested in your work, not because also that it’s great but because of my book. I’ve researched curiosity and the things that hold people back from being curious. The number one of the four factors was fear. I found fear, assumptions, technology, and environment are the things that hold people back from being curious. That’s what I’m testing them with my curiosity assessment. I give advice of how to overcome things with fear. I’m very interested in talking about fear with you because that’s something you write about. It’s one of the most common things that people experience. You say there are certain types of fear. What are they?

Like you, finding that fear is the number one block to success not only curiosity. That’s why this was my first book to come out. I felt it needed to be first because so many people deal with it. I felt like I found a solution that worked and I want to offer it to people. I’m a coach and a consultant as well. I don’t get to spend one-on-one time with everybody so I wrote a book and get it in as many hands as possible. To truly help people through that block, that hurdle that everybody faces. The top ten fears that I’ve faced also came out with the bravery process. A process that helps people gets through, but the top ten fears that I’ve found were the fear of inadequacy, uncertainty, failure, rejection, and missing out. Of change, losing control, being judged, and something bad happening. That came from not only through my own research with clients over the years, but also researching. Talking to people that I respect.

I also have a podcast where I bring people on and fear is a topic that always comes up. Whether it’s recorded or off the air, we’re talking about different things. It’s something that we all face. It’s something that not many people realize or want to confront because it’s uncomfortable. We don’t talk about it very often. We don’t want to let people know that we are afraid. That’s something even ingrained into the culture in men, and in women as well. Me growing up as a man, that was something that, “Don’t act afraid and maybe it will go away,” but that’s far from the truth. It’s something that needs to be talked about and confronted so we can move through those fears. I’m not one to believe that we can truly be completely fearless. That’s a myth. Life is full of fear. We learn to accept and to dance with that fear. We learn to live life without fear. It’s all about showing up in the midst of fear where the magic truly happens.

[bctt tweet=”Fear is the number one block to success.” via=”no”]

I’m a Star Trek fan. I was watching the remake that they do in movies. Spock was dying with the doctor. He was talking about fear. The doctor said, “Fear is what keeps us alive.” It does. You need some fear, you don’t want to burn yourself or do something stupid. There’s a rational fear and irrational fear. Sometimes we let it overtake us in. I’d like to have a little fear when I get up on stage. It makes my presentation be a little bit better. If you’re completely whatever when you get up there, you’re not going to be as good. It’s a control thing.

I talked about this in the book that fear is many times a signal that we are chasing the right thing and that we are doing the right thing. You want fear to be there. Most of us want to be in control. All of us want to be in control and feel some control there. The saying, “Just do it,” that’s dangerous in some ways because we are humans and we have to acknowledge that we have emotions. That’s what makes us human. Fear being there is a good thing. It lets us know that we’re on to something good. It shows that we care about something too. If we’re not afraid, a good question is do you even care about it should we be showing up? That’s a whole another conversation.

I thought your list was interesting. In my research, I broke it down from fear as three parts of loss of control, embarrassment, and failure. Beyond that, I went to embarrassments about looking dumb and rejection. All these things are what hold people back at work from asking questions, from volunteering information. We’re all sitting in the room knowing there is a question everybody wants to ask, but nobody wants to ask it because you don’t want to look dumb. What you write about is so important because if we can overcome that and we can have an open dialogue at work, asking those questions is what’s going to lead to innovation. Asking those questions is going to open up the door. I don’t know the answer but since I asked the question, it lit a light bulb in somebody else in the room. It’s a very big challenge for people. We want to be the bravest you as you put it, but you talked about the importance of taking risks. How do we do that?

It all comes back to the bravery process and there are five steps. The first step that everybody starts out is complacency. Many times, we think of complacency as not doing anything, but it can also be our schedules are too full to make room for those things that matter. I’ve been there. I’m constantly weeding out my schedule. Covering commitments that I shouldn’t have made in the first place. Going back and saying no to those things to make room so I can say yes to those things that matter. That’s an important place to be. The second stage is ideas or inspiration. When those ideas come, it’s important to get those questions out there, to get those ideas out there and edit later. No matter how dumb they sound in the moment. That’s where trust comes in and team building can come in and that comes through relationship. The third stage is fear. We all know what fear is. I listed the top ten fears that I’ve found that people face.

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear
Fighting Fear: Many times, we think of complacency as not doing anything, but it can also be our schedules are too full to make room for those things that matter.


An important statistic that I found in my research of fear is 85% of the things we fear don’t happen. 30% of those things happened in the past and 90% of the things we fear are considered insignificant. These things that we worry and having anxiety about, if we truly look at them, they aren’t that big. What you’re talking about taking risks, to get from fear to bravery. Bravery being the thing, showing up and not giving up. Showing up for those things that we truly know we ought to do. That’s what I define bravery is. The fourth stage is passion. I know passion has become a buzzword. When we truly look at the word passion it’s from the root word passio, meaning to endure. We’re going to risk more often if we truly are passionate about or care about it. That’s where courage takes place. That’s where risk takes place and it’s truly caring about what we’re doing.

A lot of times we talk about work, but it’s fully understanding that we have a life to live or we’re impacting people wherever we go. Not only with our work but outside of our work and our families. It’s truly caring about those things. Prior to all this, we need to define our definition of success. Are we taking risks in the right areas? Are we getting closer to our definition of success? A lot of it goes back to that and if we’re truly honest with ourselves. Many times, we haven’t done that. We’re showing up for obligations because we have to not because we want to or even because we get to. That’s a very important differential aspect of being able to show up because you get to rather than you have to.

That all ties back into engagement and if you want to be there and have the desire to do what you’re doing. That’s why I was interested in this whole topic. All these ties back to engagement and people are spending hundreds of millions a year in lost productivity. People aren’t showing up emotionally for work and they’re just existing. A lot of it could be fear-based. You’ve tied into what I am trying to tie into. It’s all, “How can we get people more engaged? How can we get them more productive? How can we make them more innovative?” That’s the word you’re going to hear. Everything’s going to be innovation.

My dissertation is on emotional intelligence. Everything was emotional intelligence for a long time and I still think that’s important. What we’re finding though is that you’ve got soft skills and you get all these important terms coming up. What I keep hearing when I’m talking to HR people when they need to do some more training is bandwidth. How much time do they have to focus on these things? How are they going to fit in one more ability to train about this? If we’ve got to teach them soft skills, we’ve got to teach them how to be engaged, go over in their engagement surveys or going to go over all this stuff. How do you make time for the bandwidth to make it fit in there? I saw that you focus on time management and some of the stuff that you write about. Do you deal with that at all?

[bctt tweet=”If you’re wondering why the better ideas aren’t coming to you anymore, it could be that you don’t have time to think.” via=”no”]

With clients and organizations, they’re always looking for ways to create bandwidth. That’s something that we deal with because time is our most precious asset. Many times, it’s financially. If we free time up in many cases, it’s going to lead to a financial return. A lot of times we focus on the sexy things and the new thing, but it’s coming back to the fundamentals to make time and energy. Those are huge assets that we need to free up more time in order to create and in order to make room for these ideas. That’s why the bravery process is the way it is. Talking about time management first because we need to clear time to think. If you’re wondering why the better ideas aren’t coming to you anymore, it could be a curiosity problem, but it could also be that you don’t have time to think. It’s jam-packed as people are, CEOs and managers. It starts from the top down. People are, “How are you?” “I’m busy.” That’s always the answer. “I’ve been busy. How about you?” Focusing on time management not only as individuals but as companies are going to lead us these bigger and better ideas.

People are so busy, but I see so many meetings held for the sake of meetings. You have a meeting to talk about the next meeting or you’re planning to plan and then you never do anything to plan. There’s so much time. It can be more efficient. A lot of the things that you’re talking about and that I’m talking about, you can combine into training sessions to be about productivity, innovation and as an overall goal, but you’re dealing with fear or you’re dealing with engagement. You’re dealing with all these things in a more efficient way. If it’s important, people to make time for it. They need to look at what they’re doing and cutout the fat. There are always meetings that are so unnecessary. Sometimes people are busy being busy. Sometimes we can help with that. I am interested in your passion gets to bravery discussion. How do you differentiate between passion and curiosity?

I define curiosity as being more of the action, passion being more of the driving force behind it. I’ve got some ideas in the book for people to help find their passion. I like asking people questions. It’s hard to give blanket advice unless you’re sitting one-on-one with them and looking at their life. Them asking you, “What are some ideas that you have?” and then brainstorming together. Writing a book in that way, I try to get people thinking for themselves. In the end, I’m not the magic answer. The person is, the individual is. You have to do something personally. This book is not the answer as much as I want it to be. The questions in it to get the individual reading the book thinking that’s the answer.

The first question I ask is how are you pursuing your biggest passions? Many times, we’re filling our schedules too full not making time. Question two, what would you gladly do for free that people want and need from you? If there’s not much that you do for free, only a few, that might be a good indication that you need to go research that area and find ways that you can help in those areas. Researching for the book. The number one activity that helps your happiness is the action of volunteering. I don’t have the case study or link with me, but I do remember reading that research. If there are not many things that you want to talk about, that you would do for free in business and those outside of work go, volunteer. It’s going to help your happiness. That’s a huge conversation as well. Finding happiness in the midst of the journey. A lot of us can be so busy and so focused on the task at hand that we forget about having fun and finding happiness. That’s an issue that we that we need to talk about. That could be found in the fear of comparing ourselves to other people. The fear of missing out is what I talk about in the book. With social media and such, we’re so quick to compare ourselves to others. It’s a big deal that people are facing. The third question would be how can you fit your passion into your work? We talked about volunteering, but how can we put that passion back into our work? What are some things that we can tweak?

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear
Fighting Fear: The number one activity that helps your happiness is the action of volunteering.


Quitting has such a bad connotation. I’m not saying quit your job and go find something that you’re passionate about. I’m not talking about how can you fit the things you’re passionate about into the work that you already have? How can you make it fun? How can you impact more people with it? That’s where creativity, curiosity, and innovation can happen as well. Not only supplying that experience for the consumer, but also for your employees. Let’s not forget about the people that help make you successful. Question four is what excites you and gets you out of bed early and keeps you up late? Going my own story, I started years ago with a blog. I didn’t have the idea yet to turn it into a business. That started with my passion for writing and that kept me showing up again and again. Six years into it I was finally able to start an online business with the audience that I grew, but simply because I started with my passion for writing. I showed up, again and again every day. Writing in the morning before and after work because I enjoyed writing.

I was able to talk about my journey and it attracted people. That’s how I grew a business. That’s my own story. Asking people what do they find fun? I know the expectation is kids are supposed to have fun, but adults are all serious. Let’s get back to defining what is fun again. The last question is what do you want to expound upon in conversation? What do you like to talk about that can be a signal of what you’re passionate about? To help discard those things that you like talking about but pay attention to those things. If it’s a business idea you’re looking for, how can you turn those things into a business? If you want to go do it then, my book’s there to help fight the fears that you’re facing. That are in between where you are and getting you to do the things you want to do.

It’s such an important discussion. Some of these questions with your leaders because a lot of people are misaligned in their job because nobody asked them what they like. I was at a Forbes event and one of the speakers was talking about how he creates positions for people based around what they’re good at. He hires him sometimes with no job in mind because he can tell that they’re great. The question comes up is who’s going to do all the grunt work that no one wants to do if everybody does what they love? Here comes my nerd side, I liked doing expense reports. I liked doing paperwork.

Everybody’s got their passions and things they like. I don’t know that I was ever utilized well within organizations for which I’ve worked because they assume you’re in sales and that you hate paperwork. They assume you’re in this, you don’t like this or that. These questions need to come up in these conversations about what people like because so many people are going to be displaced. Innovation is going to be required. You’re going to have so many jobs lost due to AI. If you’re going to be put into new jobs, where are people going to go? How are you going to know unless you have these questions? Do you think that they’re having these conversations or do you think they need to have more of them?

[bctt tweet=”Hard work is many times the way to the results that you want.” via=”no”]

I don’t think they’re having enough. Here’s the difference, CEOs or managers that want to grow. There are people who are fine where they’re at, meaning complacency. They’re doing what they’ve always done. For those people who truly want to grow, they might have good intentions. Actions are the things that get things done, not intentions. If you’re doing it once a year, a good queue might be at least a weekly huddle. Every day checking in through email or Slack or however you communicate is fun. A weekly huddle saying, “Are things going well?” What is happening is maybe monthly, quarterly, and yearly. More often that we’re checking in, it shows that we care not only about our business but the people we’re working with. We’re making things better with consumers. I’m not saying these are long meetings, just an hour meeting. Going back to what we were talking about, but a five or ten-minute huddle just seeing how everybody is. What is not good that’s going on? What is good that’s going on? How can we fix it? What are we doing? What are we not doing well? How do we fix it? Those quick conversations are helpful.

A common misconception because of that quote, “When you enjoy what you do you’ll never work a day in your life,” and that is not honest. There are a lot of things that I do that I don’t like. It’s more like, if you enjoy what you do, you work more. That’s a common misconception that you’re supposed to enjoy every minute. I’m here to say that life is hard, and you have to show up sometimes and do the things. I know your emotions are there, but it gets you to those things that you’re curious about. The hard work is many times the way to the results that you want. I want to remind people there. In my book, I battle a lot of the common misconceptions that are out there. When writing this book, I went back probably twenty times through to make sure it was honest. I was changing things almost every edit to say that’s a cliché. That’s a saying that I’ve heard time and time again, but I don’t feel that that’s true. It’s important for the audience, for people reading the book to get back and be honest not only with other people but with ourselves. That is many times the hardest person to be honest with. It’s only when you’re honest with yourself that you can break through, that you can find the results you’re looking for.

That brings up some of the other research outside of fear that I get as far as our assumptions that we make. It was fear, assumptions, technology, and environment. Assumption and environment are our past or things around us that have happened. What we think we would like or we won’t like or what we fear or won’t fear. Sometimes it’s what we’ve talked ourselves into. You said that 85% of things won’t happen. Can you repeat that because I thought it was so important I want to say it again.

85% of the things we fear don’t happen, 30% happened in the past and 90% of those things are considered insignificant. That came from research out of the University of Cincinnati. I’m talking about the book that I haven’t memorized. I like that you found that impactful because when I was researching, that stopped me in my tracks. That was impactful for me.

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear
Fighting Fear: 85% of the things we fear don’t happen.


I’d like for you if you wouldn’t mind sharing where to get your book? How to find out more about your blog? I know you mentioned the name, but if you could share some links you’d like to share, that would be great.

Thanks for letting me do that is where I post two or three times a week depending on what I have to say. You can find me on social media everywhere @ASmithBlog. Twitter is where I’m the biggest and that’s what I enjoy the most and where I spend most of my time. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or wherever you like to be. Then the book is The Bravest You and you can find that on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or wherever books are sold. I’d love for our audience to come in and take a peek and hopefully, it resonates with them.

[bctt tweet=”It’s only when you’re honest with yourself that you can break through and find the results you’re looking for.” via=”no”]

Thank you, Adam, this has been so interesting. It ties into everything I’m interested. I was looking forward to this. I enjoyed having you on the show.

It was great being here. What a fun conversation. I can’t believe it’s already over.

Living Your Life In The Front Row with Marilyn Sherman

I am here with Marilyn Sherman who owns a company called UpFront Presentations. She was inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. She has written several books, Why Settle for the Balcony? (How to Get a Front-Row Seat in Life!), Whose Comfort Zone Are You In?, Front-Row Service and Is There a Hole in Your Bucket List? Welcome, Marilyn. I’m glad to have you on the show.

Thanks, Diane. It’s great to be here.

It’s interesting because I’ve had a lot of Hall of Fame speakers. I’ve been lucky. From Bob Burg, Jeff Hayzlett, Joe Calloway, the list goes on and on. Even Amanda Gore and a lot of them I notice are men speakers. It’s always nice to see that we’re getting more and more women in the Hall of Fame.

Considering that our association is half men and half women. It’s good to see more women represented in the Hall of Fame.

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear
Fighting Fear: The biggest obstacle that prevents people from living their life in the front row is fear.


I liked your style. I was watching your speaking. I had Dr. Willie Jolley as people have a lot of personality. You have a lot of personality. It’s unusual to see a great sense of humor. I love watching a lot of your conversations that you had about bringing comedy into what you do. I like that and that adds a lot. I would like to get a little background if people aren’t aware of what led you to want to be a speaker, and how you got to this point? That would be a good place to start.

I’m pretty unique in that way. I saw a speaker when I was seventeen years old. I was so inspired by his message. It moved me so much that I thought, “More people in the world need to hear a message of hope and inspiration and I want to do that.” As soon as I saw him speak, I started to study motivational speakers. I started to attend motivational conferences and rallies even while I was still in high school. Then I was part of a pilot program at Mercer Island High School up in Seattle. We had some suicides in our school. It was a high-stress, high expectation type of environment. A health education company came out with this program called Natural Helpers. They survey the school and they found out, “Who do you go to when you have a serious problem or not so serious? Depression or whatever it is you’re going through, who do you go to?” They took all the names that were mentioned with a cross-section of the school represented.

We were taken away to a weekend retreat to learn listening skills, suicide prevention, and how to get help. How to know when you’re over your head when someone comes to you to help you or to ask for help? How to be resourceful? Then they blended us back in the student body. The next time someone came to us, we would be better equipped to handle the situation. That’s why they called it Natural Helpers. They took the people who are already identified as people that people go to when they have problems. Then they gave them better skills to cope with handling all these problems from their peers. I took to that like a fish to water. Clay Roberts who founded the company with his partner, he invited me to be a student leader to other schools that they expanded this program with. I was good at that, at a Health Education State Conference. They asked me to speak on behalf of the student’s perspective. That was my first paid speaking engagement. I was still in high school. I was like, “This is awesome.” I caught the bug as they say. I went to school in Washington State University with the intention of being a professional speaker. After graduating from college, I knew I had to have credibility first before I could speak to the corporate audiences that I wanted to serve. I got a job. My dad gave me 30 days to get a job or else I will be kicked out of the house. On the 28th day, I got a job at the Seattle Crisis Center which is a suicide prevention hotline.

I was very equipped to handle that job, but it wasn’t in alignment with my long-term mission and my long-term goal of becoming a motivational speaker, especially in the corporate space. I got a job right after that at a finance company and they put me in an accelerated Leadership Program. They moved me to Las Vegas and after three months they moved me to San Jose. Eventually, after the end of that training program, they sent me to a week-long leadership training put on by my own company. I thought, “This is where I want to do. How do I get this job?” The company was like, “We trained you to become a branch manager for the finance company. We didn’t train you to then come to our home office. Why don’t you get some experience out in the field? Then come to our home office and be a trainer. That way you could have field experience at the home office.” That’s what I did, and I became a trainer for about 2,500 employees putting on leadership training programs for this finance company. As a trainer, they sent me to a career track one-day seminar. I went up to that speaker and I said, ” You’re speaking full-time. How do I get your job?” He turned me on to a book called How to Make it Big In the Seminar Business by Paul Karasik. I read a chapter on seminar companies, which had all their addresses. I did a demo video and sent it to all of them and SkillPath Seminars hired me. I quit my job at the finance company and I moved to San Diego. I was a SkillPath from ’93 to ’98. In ’98, I finished my first book. I went out on my own. I turned 35 on the same day that I launched my independent speaking career. I’ve been speaking full-time since 1993 but full-time on my own since 1998.

[bctt tweet=”Get out of whatever you’re going through that doesn’t serve you and get into gratitude.” via=”no”]

You’ve done a lot since then. You’re in a company with some of the most amazing people. I watched a lot of your videos. I liked your story of Brian Tracy and some of the things you talked about. I still want to know if you learned how to speak fluent French? Is that a yes or no?

Not fluent, but I speak a lot better French now than I did before.

It’s interesting when you talk to Hall of Fame speakers when you finally get around those people. I assume you met Brian Tracy now that you’ve gotten to this point. Even when I had Verne Harnish on the show, he said one of the most nerve racking speeches he had to give was to the NSA group because you’re around your peers. Do you find that’s the hardest for you too?

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear
Is There a Hole in Your Bucket List?: How to Overcome Obstacles That Keep You From Achieving Your Goals

Yes, but they’re very gracious. They are my people and I am them. If I were to do my keynote in front of that audience on the general stage which I have not done, that would be very nerve-wracking. I’ve done some breakout sessions, but never on the main stage or the National Convention. It’s like speaking in front of family. They look at me like, “I know who you are.”

You say that life is a big venue and I like how you put that. Can you share what you mean by that? I like the way you make it very easy people to understand that.

I love my concept. My brand is about living your life in the front row. If life were a venue, you have choices as to where you sit in that venue. You can either sit on the balcony and balcony seats are not good seats. These are view obstructed, nosebleed section seats. There are general admission seats which are not bad but it’s not great. It’s general admission that’s where most people are. I call that your comfort zone. A lot of people operate and live in their comfort zone where they’re not stretching themselves. Then there’s the front row and the front row is where you get to say, “It doesn’t get better than this. Life is good. I’m firing on all cylinders. I feel great with who I am, what I’m doing, who I’m doing with, and who I’m doing it for.” Unfortunately, a lot of people settle for balcony seats or general admission seats when they could be giving themselves permission to move to the front because a view is so much better. That’s when you’re a VIP. You deserve a VIP in your life.

A lot of people have struggles and they have obstacles. The biggest obstacle that prevents people from losing their life in the front row is fear. They have the fear of success, fear of failure, fear of attention or fear of the unknown. A lot of fears keep people from living the life in the front row. My whole messaging is around front row moments. Moving your seat to the front row and identifying where your seats are right now because you have your work chair, health chair, relationship chair, friendship chair, attitude chair and fate chair. All these are different chairs that represent your life. In every chair, you have a choice to move that chair closer to the front row of your life, however, you define it for you. For me, my front row is being on stage in front of an audience and making them laugh, making them think and moving them to make a difference in their life. If I were to ask my audience how many of you like to change positions with me, they would freak out.

As my friend, Connie Podesta would say, “People would rather chew on rock than be in the front row or be on the stage. Your front row is different than my front row. There’s no judgment there. It’s your life’s decisions. It’s no problem. The point is for me to inspire them to take a look at where they are in their life and then say, “Maybe this isn’t ideal for me. Maybe I do need to move closer.” I spoke with the Club Managers Association Global Conference. The guy sent me a letter. He said, “I want you to know that since I came back from your keynote, I sat down with my wife. I said, “Honey, we’re living our life in the front row, aren’t we?” She said, “No we’re not. We need a vacation.” They went on an Alaskan cruise because of a dialogue with each other. They defined that going on an Alaskan cruise was their front row moment. He wrote me to say they went on a cruise. They had an amazing time and they wanted to thank me for helping them see what their front row was that they have.

It’s so important to look at the things that are keeping people from the front row. That’s part of what I did in my research of curiosity and I found fear was a huge thing that held people back from being curious, asking questions, and doing things. I had someone on the show. The University of Cincinnati studies said 85% of the things we fear won’t happen, 30% happened in the past and 90% are insignificant. He quoted that. That’s important because you talk about being in the front row, but you can have bad moments. You don’t have bad days necessarily, but bad moments or however you put it. I like your story about your feet hurting because I came back from walking in the airport. I was like totally relating to that story. Do you want to tell that one?

I had been flying from Las Vegas to Atlanta to speak in HR Conference with a layover in Dallas. My client was picking me up in Atlanta to take me to dinner. I made a rookie travel mistake. I wore my cute shoes instead of my travel shoes. As you know going through DFW the connecting gate is never right next door. Halfway walking through the airport my feet was killing me. I realized I forgot my book on the plane. I was reading a good business book on negotiating skills. I ran back to the first gate and the gate agent was very nice. She went back aboard and got my book. I was so happy. I walked to my connecting gate and now my feet were tired. I sat down and realized, I forgot my purse back at the first gate when I was talking to the gate agent. Then I had to walk all the way back to that first gate. There luckily was my purse sitting right there totally unattended. I picked up my purse and picked up my book and my feet were done. I stopped at a little ABC store inside the airport. I found some fuzzy socks. I went down and sat at the new gate. I started to have the self-pity party. Why did I not wear the right shoes? Why didn’t I fly direct? Why do I do this for a living? When you have a pity party you invite the guests like anger, resentment, Ben, Jerry, and Jack. Anything you can to make you feel better.

[bctt tweet=”If we stay in jealousy, envy, and resentment, we make things worse than they are.” via=”no”]

Then something happened. I looked up and realized there were two gates where people were all standing up looking out the window. I got out of my comfort zone and went to this complete stranger. I said, “Excuse me, what’s everybody doing?” He pointed out the window. There was this scene that unfolded of an American Airlines flight with a luggage cart draped with an American flag. With all these ground crew people that had run into position so that they could salute the casket of a fallen soldier that was going up the ramp into the belly of the airplane. I immediately got grateful that there was so much reverence being played to this soldier with the silence and the salute. They were all saluting the casket. It was so moving. More importantly, I got grateful for whoever it was that’s within that casket that sacrificed their lives for the freedom of my country. In an instant, I put everything into perspective.

It was like, “Who am I to complain that my feet hurt? Who am I to complain about anything when I’m watching someone take their final flight home?” As I was basking in this gratitude my pain went away, and then it hit me. You can’t walk with gratitude and sit in self-pity at the same time. I suggest to people if you ever feel something that doesn’t serve you like anger, resentment, and frustration, find a way to get out of that mind space by finding a way to get into gratitude. When you get grateful for the scenario, grateful for where you are, and grateful for the health that you have. Grateful for the home that you have and grateful for the work that you get to do, when you start to feel all that gratitude, you can’t walk in self-pity at the same time. The nice thing about that quote is that you could replace self-pity with anything. You can’t welcome gratitude and sit in anger at the same time. You can’t walk to gratitude and frustration the same. You can’t have it at the same time. Get out of whatever you’re going through that doesn’t serve you and get into gratitude.

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear
Fighting Fear: Learn how to forgive and celebrate, and then approach the people who have what you want. That’s how successful people get ahead.


I came back from an event in the San Francisco area, which has a company that helps students get through school and study and get past difficult times. They have young people who dedicate their time to doing this almost like you go to Habitat for Humanity or something, but you’re doing it for this education purpose. I was sitting there thinking, “What am I doing? These kids are going to help these other kids in school. They’re getting there at 7:00 in the morning. They’re working until 6:00 every night. They’re not getting paid and they’re doing this. It’s amazing. Sometimes we get so focused on ourselves and our stuff and you forget what you could be doing or what you could be thinking. It’s important. A lot of your talks are important for that because a lot of people get so self-focused. That’s tough. There are a lot of things that we can do to improve and that’s why I’m interested in your book because it’s called Is There a Hole in Your Bucket List? Was your bucket list to marry a Frenchman? Was that on your list?

Absolutely. I made a poor choice in my first marriage and that didn’t work. I was single for seven years. I decided, “I speak about goal-setting. I speak about living your life in the front row. I speak about getting out of your comfort zone. Now, let’s look at your life, Marilyn. You’re not happy with your relationship. You’re not happy being single. What do you want?” I made a list of everything I wanted in a life partner. I came up with 356 traits in my list. Then I narrowed it down to the top ten. In that top ten, he had to speak fluent French and I thought why not? It’s my list and I love France. My parents took me there when I was in high school. I fell in love with the culture. I had studied French in junior high school. It was amazing to finally see this culture that I had been studying for so long. I fell in love with it. Every time I’ve done a goal board, a vision board, I’ve always had an Eiffel Tower on it. There was a happy couple under it. It was all part of who I was. If I want to spend the rest of my life with someone, I would want him to have the same amount of passion for the culture that I have a passion for. I wrote that he had to speak fluent French. I didn’t anticipate that he be French.

That was a nice bonus. What we do is so amazing. I was at a weekend retreat. Mark LeBlanc does these weekend retreats called the Achievers Circle weekend. I had gone to one before. The first ones he’d ever done. I was going back for a second time and in walked this man and he sat down next to me. I knew right away he was different because he was speaking French. I got reenergized about learning how to speak French. I made this decision. I’m not going to wait for someone to come into my life who speaks French. I’m going to go and take a French class. Then I did something that we need to do more of in our society. I decided to acknowledge him and thank him. I followed him to the parking lot. I said, “Excuse me. I want to say thank you for being here. You have no idea how much you’ve inspired me.” As a result, I’ve decided I’m going to go take a French class. I swear that was my only intent. Much to my delight and surprise, he took me out to dinner. I took notes. He took me out to dinner the next night. I took less notes and then eventually I married him.

You fill that hole in your bucket list. What do you mean by having a hole in your bucket list?

The way this book came about, this is the most honest and most revealing book I’ve ever written. It came about because my hero was my dad. My dad was always my biggest supporter and my biggest fan. He was always pushing me to do greater things. I spent a lot of time with him in the last couple of years of his life because he was battling cancer. After he died, I fell into a funk of grief. A year to the day that he died, I happened to weigh myself. I had gained 36 pounds in one year since the day he died. Out loud I said, “Why do I keep doing this to myself? Because I’ve been a yo-yo dieter. My waist is up and down my entire life. “Why do I keep putting holes in my old bucket list?” That’s a great title of a book. It’s about self-sabotage. It’s about having a bucket or a bucket list, but it could be a bucket with all your dreams, hopes, aspirations and goals that are in this bucket, but here are holes in your bucket. All your dreams are leaking out in those holes. This book identifies the fact that the nails used to put the holes in the bucket are the nails that we pounded in with our hammer. Those nails are called fear, jealousy, resentment, comparison to others, and shame. These are all labels of these nails that we pick up at any given time and poke a hole in our bucket list. The book is about patching up those holes so that our dreams can come true.

I saw what you said about how people sometimes attack others who’ve been successful. If they get a promotion, we don’t celebrate women or even men who get ahead. Is that the thing you’re talking about? That we make excuses?

I have a woman asked in a keynote. Part of what I say is forgiveness and how important it is to forgive ourselves for a decision we’ve made in the past. Forgiveness for maybe even having jealousy and resentment over someone who had done well. If we stay in jealousy and envy, what happens as we sit back and we horribilize who we are. We make things worse than they are. It’s like, “Look at how well they’re doing or how great they’re doing. I bet they got a lucky break. I bet they knew someone or I wonder what she had to do to get that job.” We make up these stories and it does not serve us. If we were to let go of the jealousy and the envy part and then celebrate that person, we’re more likely to go to that person and say, “Congratulations on your success. Congratulations on what you’ve done.” Then to add another conversation and say, “What’s your best piece of advice that you would give for someone like me who one day wants to be in the position like you?” That’s how we get better as we find out what they’re doing. What they’re doing right. What advice that they had? What advice did they take? If we’re stuck in our jealousy, our resentment, and our envy, we’re not going to do that. We’ll never going to do that. That’s how I help people get unstuck. To learn how to forgive and then celebrate and then approach the people who have what you want. That’s how successful people get ahead.

Many people could benefit from that and all the other advice you give in your books. A lot of people would probably like to know how they could get a copy of this book or any of your other books or hire you. Do you have any links that you like to share?

My website is That is a great way to get ahold of me or to look at my travel schedule and book me for an event. My book is on Kindle and softcover at, Is There a Hole in Your Bucket List? You can buy any of my books and whatever you’re interested in on my website.

This was so fun, and I enjoyed having you on the show. Thank you. I know you moved in. I appreciate you taking the time while you’re unpacking your boxes.

I appreciate talking to you. I love this topic. This is awesome.

I want to thank both Adam and Marilyn for being my guests. What great guests we got on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can find them at I hope you join us for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.

Important Links:

About Adam Kirk Smith

TTL 278 | Fighting Fear

Adam Kirk Smith is the author of The Bravest You. Because of his work as an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and speaker, he has been named as a top industry influencer by American Genius. With over 65,000 monthly readers and 280,000 twitter followers, has become a top leadership blog. The five main topics that he focuses on are relationships, leadership, communication, focus/time management, and creativity.


About Marilyn Sherman

TTL 278 | Fighting FearMarilyn Sherman owns a company called UpFront Presentations. She was inducted to the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame. She has written several books Why Settle for the Balcony? How to get a Front-Row Seat in Life, Whose Comfort Zone Are You In?, Front-Row Service; and her latest book: Is there a hole in your bucket list?


Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Take The Lead community today:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *