follow the fear

When I was living alone in NYC working on my Red Letter Day album, and after that, working to promote myself in a brand new way in the world, I read something that said "follow the fear".

I was afraid, that's for sure. So I remembered that phrase and I carried it with me.

I turned that phrase over like a stone in my pocket, trying to fully grasp it's meaning.

I didn't dismiss the three words strung together, I embraced them.

Overcoming your fear probably isn't possible if you are continuing to do new things, if you are continuing to grow.

I have watched musicians set up for shows at the same place that they play every week and they look bored or worse. They sometimes look resentful or defeated.

I am going to play every Wednesday from now until the end of February at The Underground Music Cafe in St. Paul and I want to become more and more excited by the weekly opportunity because I want it to become more and more popular for people to want to come there from 5-6:30pm and listen to some music through the cold months in Minnesota. 

I want to follow my fear now in every way.

I am afraid to write the email inquiries to people in the literary world about my second novel, but I must and I shall.

I was afraid yesterday to go into the Riverview Cafe where I'll be playing a concert one night a month. I had posters in my hand that I had printed up. I wanted to ask if I could hang the posters to promote the first concert that is this Friday.

I was afraid that the person working at the counter would be discouraging to me. I didn't want to feel bad about my upcoming concert series. I was afraid I'd feel foolish putting up my posters. I had feelings I didn't want to have, thoughts I didn't want to have.

I sat in my car out in front of the Riverview Cafe and I fought with my fear.

Finally I shut off the car and I walked into the cafe, posters in hand.

The young man behind the counter, who I don't think I've ever seen before, immediately said, "Hi! Are you playing here? That's so awesome! Are those your posters? Oh my God that's so cool."

He got out a tape dispenser and we went around together and hung up six posters in different parts of the cafe.

While we were hanging them a woman came up to me and said, "Are you playing here?"

I showed her the dates on the poster and she said, "Wow, look at all those Saturday nights! Good for you! I'll spread the word."

I left the Riverview feeling no fear at all. I felt joyful and grateful. I felt glad that I had followed through on an inspired hunch to contact them and ask to play a series of shows in my own neighborhood only a few blocks from where I live.

Follow the fear. Hunt it down and make it work for you. Use the fear as a sign post that you are going in the right direction with your pursuits. 

Fear is a powerful tool. If you feel afraid walking down a dark alley alone, you should get out immediately.

If you feel like a coyote is following you down the path, you should turn around and tell him to go eat a squirrel instead of your little dog.

If you are afraid to contact the very person you want to have help you, you should fight the fear, use the fear as a catalyst for change, force yourself to make the contact. I'm talking to myself here. But I may very well be talking to you too.

If you want to play at the same little place every Wednesday for the whole winter to see what you can learn, then you should beg for a weekly gig until you get one.

I am going to play the first of my Wednesday night weekly gigs tonight at The Underground Music Cafe and I am afraid because I don't have a built in audience. I want to grow a natural following and my best idea to do this is just start playing and keep saying that I'll be there every week at the same place at the same time and believe that people will want to come back and bring a friend. I have set the intention by setting up the weekly gig. Now I have to make the performance worth peoples' time.

I am following the healthy fear and using it as an indicator of where I need to go next.

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