The Only Thing That Holds Us Back From Success

I was 16 years old, and recently certified with Metabolic Effect. I was spending the summer in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and my sister Jill tells me that I need to be at Reynolda Village at 6:30 in the morning to teach a class.

“Wait, like tomorrow morning?”

“Yep, I’ll see you there. You got it, dude.”

That’s the pep talk, so I guess that’s that.

I barely slept the night before because I was so nervous. My eyes were wide open long before my alarm clock went off.

I showed up early to review the workout I wrote out the night before, and watched as people two and three times my age came rolling in with their mats and dumbbells. I began the class with a cracking voice and gigantic armpit sweats stains.

Thirty minutes later, it was over. People were sweating, they looked tired, and I left thinking, “That wasn’t so bad.”

Five years later, I’ve moved to Winston-Salem, and Jill signs me up to get my personal training certification. On the day I take the exam, I see a post on Facebook that says –

“Winston-Salem peeps! My brother Danny is giving away 5 free training sessions this weekend. Who wants in?”

I immediately text her –

“I am?”

“Yep. They’re already filled. You got it dude.”

I guess that’s that.

I show up again with my pre-written workouts, and giant armpit stains. I remind myself that I need to stop wearing gray tee shirts in these situations.

Once again, I have no experience, but I fake confidence and project my voice the best I can (at least this time it’s not cracking like a 13-year old boy going through puberty).

A few hours later, five people had broke a sweat, looked tired, and I left thinking, “That wasn’t so bad.”

Thousands of personal training sessions and classes later I can roll into a class and make up a workout on the spot, and my armpit stains no longer show.

If it was up to me, I never would have taught a class, or done a personal training session. I would have just talked shit to all my friends about how I’m a certified trainer and they’re not, and any future success in the fitness industry would have ended right there.

Jill did the greatest thing that one person could have done for another. She put me on the hook. She forced me to show up and go one-on-one with my pit stains. Once I showed up, I had to face the fear of public speaking, and the fear of being exposed for what I was: a 16-year old kid with no experience training.

Fear keeps us from accomplishing so many things in which were capable of doing. It keeps people from writing books, starting businesses, creating fulfilling relationships, or becoming the champion of their local Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Fear is a vision of an unpleasant future. That’s it. We don’t get scared of the past, we’re not typically fearful in the present. It’s our imagination concocting “what if” scenarios.

What if I start a business and it fails? What if I go down this career path and hate it? What if I put myself on the line and she punches me in the face and breaks my heart? What if I invest my money and lose it all? What if somebody screams out “This workout sucks!” and then leaves?

Fear is what causes us to talk ourselves out of even trying things. Had Jill not put me in those uncomfortable situations, I would have justified to myself that I would start when I was older, or that nobody would want a workout session from me anyway.

I was recently listening to a lecture by a Dr. Craig Manning, a Sports Psychologist here in Utah. He said that “research shows that 50% of our potential lays dormant because we emotionally react to life and situations.”

Basically, we only achieve half of what we’re capable of in life because emotions like fear. Half!

On top of that, many researchers now believe that regardless of your natural talent, you can become great at anything through highly focused practice. 

So really, you can’t lose. Anything you dive into, you can become great at.

There’s so much potential greatness sitting in each and every one of us, and all it take is to face our fear and the armpit stains over and over again.

If we can just fight thru those emotional moments and show up to teach that class, ask that girl or guy out, or start sharing our writing with the world, we can start to change our view of fear.

We’ll start to change the way we view ourselves, how we talk about our selves, and how we feel about ourselves.

So I guess what I’m saying to you, and to myself, is to just try. Try the thing you’re scared of. It’s been a long time since Jill has put me on the hook for something, and now it’s up to me to put myself on the hook.

And what I think both you and I will find is the fear will come, people will sweat, they’ll look tired, and we’ll say, “That wasn’t so bad.”



Schwartz, Tony, Jean Gomes, Catherine McCarthy, and Tony Schwartz. Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

3 thoughts on “The Only Thing That Holds Us Back From Success

  1. Maja Reply

    Great post! I often fear of failure, but making mistakes is part of learning … and living. And you are right, it usually turns out just fine. After all, we have to start somewhere, nobody does great from the start.

  2. Rose Reply

    That was great- just what I needed to hear. I have been contemplating starting a health and nutrition business and have been terrified to start because of the fear of failure. This maybe the kick in the pants that I need to get started. (PS I love your sister- how did one family get so many wise people?)

    • Danny Post authorReply

      Thank you Rose 🙂 Getting started is the hardest part. Good luck!

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