Almost everyone is interested in overcoming fear – or should be.
Whether you want to speak in public, open a new business, talk to potential dates, do stand-up comedy, climb a mountain — or anything you haven’t done before — you’re bound to feel fear and want help in overcoming fear.
Well, how do you do it?
After recording six albums of songs, my Band of Legends politely nudged me to perform live.
While I’ve spoken on stage numerous times over the decades, I never sang on stage.
Thinking about it brought up serious fears.
A friend remembers me saying I would NEVER sing in public.
I had to overcome panic attacks, anxiety ambushes, and near nervous breakdowns to overcome the fear of public speaking.
But public singing?
I didn’t even sing in the shower.
Childhood memories of being humiliated when I tried to speak or sing stayed with me.
I overcame the speaking one.
But I refused to even touch singing.
It felt too vulnerable.
I managed to do it in the studio for my six albums, by basically managing my adrenaline, but I couldn’t accept ever singing on stage live.
But I did it.
I did it!
And it was a huge success.
I was strong and confident, owned the stage, and led my Band of Legends into a triumphant performance.
It was a historic moment.
It was a personal breakthrough.
And it will live forever in my mind as a moment of greatness for me.
So, how did I go from terrified to terrific?
I’ll share my own process, as it will illustrate the art of overcoming fear. I’m sure you can be inspired by this adventure.
I of course did all the standard things that I teach, from practicing ho’oponopono (as I wrote about in my books, Zero Limits and AT Zero) to rehearsing in the studio and in my mind.
But two months before the show, I also —
- I got coaching.
A basic rule of self-improvement is this:
You can accomplish more if you have someone who believes in you almost more than you believe in yourself.
I first saw that insight in the home of Jerry and Esther Hicks, of Abraham fame, decades ago. Jerry (who has passed on and I greatly miss) told me he first heard it in an early television western. I don’t recall the name of the show, but I do remember the impact the principle had on me.
I started Miracles Coaching more than a decade ago for that reason – to give people someone who could believe in them.
To help them overcome fear.
To help them attract miracles.
I’ve had a lot of people support me and coach me in performing:
Jen Sincero is a badass author of two NY Times bestselling books, You Are A Badass and the recent You Are A Badass at Making Money. I discovered her first book years ago, knew it would be a hit, and interviewed her. We stayed in touch.
I had lunch with Jen when she came to Austin for a book signing. I knew she had been in a band at one point, so I told her my dilemma. She told me that I had already done the hard part of singing.
“You sang for Melissa Etheridge,” she explained, referring to when I had a private songwriting lesson with the rock icon last November. “Singing one on one is harder than singing on stage, and you sang for an icon you idolize and adore.”
The last time I saw Melissa Etheridge, just for a moment after her show in San Antonio in June, she told me she loves my latest album, The Great Something.
She said to “Keep at it.”
I dedicated that album to her. There’s a song on it I wrote for her.
Her encouragement helped me stay motivated.
She once told me, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Sarah McSweeney is a singer-songwriter who is on my first album, Blue Healer. She was the first person I sang for.
We met and she told me she always feels nervous before getting on stage. But she thinks of herself as a messenger, not a singer.
That reframe made the idea of singing easier.
“I am a messenger,” she said. “I focus on the song’s message.”
That insight helped me drop the idea of being a singer and adopt the idea of being a messenger. It helped me relax a little.
Meghan Sandau is a new friend. She has promoted big music events. She wanted to see me do a concert. She said she likes my music.
Her belief in me helped make me more secure.
In fact, none of this would happen without her.
She set up the event for my Band of Legends to perform.
She held my hand and encouraged me.
Meghan also suggested I do an energy clearing session with Nicole Pigeault of Los Angeles. I love energy work and do clearings for others so I leaped at the chance to hire Nicole.
Turned out to be one of the most powerful esoteric washes ever.
The hour session helped me release fears and settle into confidence.
But she wasn’t the only person to support me.
Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon has been coaching me for years now. We’ve made numerous instrumental albums together, such as Invoking Divinity.
He stayed in my corner, listening to me rehearse, listening to me confide my fears, and urging me to hang in there.
Then there’s Patrick Stark in Canada. He’s a filmmaker making a movie about overcoming fear.
It’s called “One Life: No Regrets.”
He interviewed me for it. He plans to sing on stage with the band U2. But it will be the first time he’ll sing on stage EVER.
The first time you sing in public anywhere is on stage with U2 and thousands watching.
Well, if Patrick can drum up that kind of courage, then so can I.
I found preparing for the event mainly a battle with my mind. Most of my thinking was negative. It was all, What if it goes bad?
But Mindy Audlin came to visit. She teaches what if up thinking.
She wrote the book What If it All Goes Right?
She coached me in other ways to think: what if it is a breeze? What if I love it?
It also helps to see people successful in one field try their hand in a completely different field.
James Altucher tried stand-up-comedy. He’s a writer. He’s doing something out of his comfort zone.
But he’s willing to do it for the experience, and he’s sharing his learning curve to inspire others.
Though I haven’t met him, knowing he was stepping out beyond his fear fortified me to do it, too.
Of course, my beautiful Nerissa (above) believed in me, too.
She and I practiced “The Remembering Process” that Daniel Barrett taught me: we talked about the live show as if it had happened in the past and we were remembering how great it went. (See the book Daniel and I wrote: The Remembering Process.)
So the first thing I did was gather people who could coach and inspire me.
- I got educated.
To prepare for my show, I attended an online Masterclass with David Mamet, and another with Usher.
Both were astoundingly good.
Mamet is a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright and screenwriter. I think he is a genius.
He said most people are afraid to be bad to be good.
You have to be bad first to start being good.
You have to start someplace.
I reminded myself of this as I prepared for the live event.
While I wanted to step out on stage and be “perfect,” Mamet reminded me that I will probably step out and be bad.
But bad is where you start. You can’t get to great without starting at bad.
Usher said to prepare, to be confident, but to expect something to go wrong.
Don’t expect perfection.
He told a story of a performance where he injured himself at the beginning of a two-hour show, and had to keep dancing and singing despite the pain.
His insights and pointers were priceless in helping me create a mindset for success.
And I bought a set of audios called The Relaxed Musician. It’s a 14-day course in exploring limiting beliefs.
It helped me realize I had a big belief that if I looked bad as a performer, it would hurt my reputation in other areas, such as an author or speaker.
But like most beliefs, it didn’t hold up.
I could forget all my lyrics and totally wash out on stage and it wouldn’t even dent my image anywhere else. Most people forgive and forget.
In fact, a miss on stage could give me a terrific story about how I bombed and lived.
But I didn’t stop there.
I read a terrific book on how to deliver an unforgettable live performance. I liked the book so much, I read it twice.
It was called, The Musician’s Guide to a Great Live Performance.
It became my bible. I read it on planes, took it with me on my iPad, and shared it with singer-songwriter friends.
And I read a wonderful book on overcoming fear and panic, titled You 1, Anxiety 0.
Author Jodi Aman helped take the mask off of fear so I could see what it really was: an illusion. I soaked up the wisdom in this book. It really helped me.
I also read a 1950 book by Vernon Howard called Word Power.
It was about how you talk to yourself, as well as to others, effects your behavior and your results. It’s not so much affirmations but self-talk.
Pretending you are fearless by saying “I am a fearless performer” is a way to begin being a fearless performer.
And I read a recent book, called Succeed.
It explained that just visualizing success is a plan for failure unless you also visualize planning for setbacks.
In other words, thinking the show will go without a flaw is not realistic, as Usher pointed out. There is no such thing as perfection.
But visualizing success, and understanding there is work to do to get there, can almost guarantee the result you want.
That was a mind-spinning insight.
I did more, too.
- I got Nevillized.
With Meghan’s urging, I wrote out a script of how I wanted the show to go.
I focused on my feelings, not anyone else’s, so I could focus on what I could control.
The script was a type of Nevillizing (which I write about in my book, The Attractor Factor): feeling as if the event already happened, and happened the way I envisioned it.
I didn’t visualize the show happening, I visualized that the show already happened.
I wrote the script from the point of view of the next day, after I performed on stage.
I read and re-read it every day for a week before the show.
- I got relaxed.
I got massages, I got plenty of rest, I drank lots of water, and I went into a flotation tank at The Zero Gravity Institute for 90 minutes the day before the show.
I was doing whatever I could to be at peak form when I stepped on stage.
I was taking care of my body and mind.
I was getting ready for my moment.
- I got faith.
Faith doesn’t always mean something religious.
Faith in yourself, faith in other people, faith in my practice and prep, faith in my Band of Legends – all of it gives a level of confidence that allows the best to surface.
As a slogan I coined says, “It is what you accept.”
I accepted that the moment would be perfect, even in any imperfections.
It would be “perfectly imperfect.”
And, after two months of preparing, what happened?
My Band of Legends and myself performed on July 21st at The Townsend in Austin.
I’m the luckiest musician alive to have a band of this caliber: Drummer Joe Vitale (yes, same name as mine), bass man Glenn Fukunaga and lead guitarist Daniel Barrett.
These incredible musicians encouraged me, supported me, and brought my songs to life.
We raised the roof and tore down the walls.
We shook the earth and wowed the crowd.
Talk about overcoming fear!!!
I gave everything I had in me, delivering my messages with energy, enthusiasm, electricity, and a sense of fearlessness and fun.
At the end of our set, we got a standing ovation.
A standing ovation!
I did it.
And I loved it!
Now, what do you fear that is time for you to do?
Isn’t today a good day to begin overcoming fear?
Great post, Joe!
Thank you, Jillian
It was a wonderful show! So glad I got to be there. All of your preparation paid off, I only saw a joyful shining light up there!
Thank you, Heather! It was great to see you there!
Joe, I was privileged to have a very unique perspective on this process that you went through.
This is one of my favorite blog post that you have ever done. Simply because you are being so honest and sharing all of the emotions, fear and anxiety that goes behind stepping up and laying it all on the line.
Many people talk a good talk, but this post shows that you practice what you preach.
I am going to publicly share what I have already told you personally.
After the show, my wife Shannon and I went back to our hotel and although it was 2 o’clock in the morning I could not sleep. I told her that I was so proud of you that I was more wired with excitement than I am after performing my own shows.
You are an inspiration!
Mathew, this is VERY touching. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So great – and I am glad I got to witness it. More gigs! 🙂
Jana, thank you so much for being there. It was awesome to see you.
Wish I had been there.
You are living proof that you can succeed at whatever you want. And that is encouraging to the rest of us.
Now to face up to my fears about being a professional writer…
PS, is there a recording we could access via the Internet?
Recording to come. Waiting on the videographer.
Fantastic. Can’t wait to see it.
Oh, I wish I had’ve known that you guys were playing here in Austin. I so would have been there. Like Stephen said. Where is the video? I would love to see.
I’m sorry you missed it. I promoted it everywhere, including on this blog, for two months before the show. Yes, it was filmed and I’ll post it here as soon as the editor gives it to me. Thank you for your interest.
Thank you Joe for sharing this most heartfelt, uplifting and inspiring post.
You are welcome, Cathy.
Woke up this morning thinking how to overcome waves of fear coming now and then.
I’m a passionate watercolorist, something beyond that can’t be described with words, feels like the luckiest person on planet.
Later today, have opened my e-mail, pure miracle how fast the Universe gives us the answer, text message from Mr Joe Vitale OVERCOMING FEAR! :)))))
THANK YOU, THANK YOU FROM MY HEART FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT, BEING INSPIRATION, AND A TRUE FRIEND!
You are welcome. Come from faith, not fear.
I loved your post, it’s certainly right that fear can freeze you, but is more important to live and try to do new things with confidence and faith. Thanks Joe
Thank you, Sonia.
Thank you Joe.
This is one of the most helpful and honest blog I have ever read.
I needed this so much today as I am trying to over come fear of writing teaching and creating Spiritual programs.
Thank you again. I feel this was sent to me personally from the Divine when I needed it most.
God Bless you Joe for being courageous enough to expose your fear.
Thank you. I look forward to reading your programs soon.
thank you wery much for the post and the inspiration . The interesting point for me is how actually much did EVEN YOU do to overcome your pain and fears. It helped me to feel once again that everything is possible 🙆 and I just have to start bad and get better. Thank you for being so honest and strong.
That was amazing to read! It touched the part of me that feels the determination to move forward, and yet I have continued to arm myself by reading just one more book, one more blog, one more motivational video. I was not physically there when you performed, but your words were so moving. I felt the joy you felt on stage. I am so happy for you and so grateful that you shared. Thank you! DiaJea
Great post Joe. I am a big fan of your books and your message. This is great fuel to help me as I start a new journey of uncertainty. I am terrified that I will fail. I guess that’s just where I am starting out. I must move past this and begin to Expect Miracles! Thank you Joe!
You deserves it all!!! God bless you!
Thank you very much! I could not help laughing, thinking about the situation when you were told about the idea of singing in the same place with U2! Well, you got challenges to win your fear, indeed!
Your tips are very helpful! Thank you for sharing the truth of the unic experience and showing your vulnerability!