Letting Go of Our Fear of Screwing Up

Picture your life a month in the future, beyond what your mind can see, any outcome you want. Step out of fear and into opportunity.

The invitation came from Kyle Cease, transformational speaker. In May 2017, he brought his humour, insights and talent to the Moore Theatre in Seattle for a 2-hour event, inspiring us to challenge our limited thinking.

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I was one of the 1,800 person audience who turned towards a stranger and stretched my imagination into a new world that I hadn’t thought of before. The stranger told me her vision of her future. 

The power of dreaming aloud.

With 20 years of experience as a stand-up comedian, Cease began his own career shift by listening to himself. Last year, he began an experiment of meditating 2 hours a day and then videotaping his thoughts.

In paying attention to himself, he was able to distinguish what felt heavy in his life and then he worked at using that as a guide to shift his life. He gave up stand up. Then he was offered opportunities which sent him on a different trajectory.

Evolving Out Loud.  Live and online events. In-the-moment metamorphosis from participants.

His recent book, I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling in Love with Your Fears Can Change the World, is much like his live event, life-changing ideas speckled with humour. 

He has some cool things to say. Here are a few outtakes from his book:

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"What I know to be true is that even though following that expansive feeling in our bodies can feel scary, if we take that leap into the unknown, an unlimited number of possibilities will show up to support us that we can’t see before we’ve taken that leap."

Our mission is starting to change from “How can I create the best career?” or “How can I get the best relationship?” to “How can I connect to myself more and start to move in alignment with what life is truly calling through me?”

"If you work in a job that you hate for your entire life, you’re not going to be fulfilled, you’re not going to be giving your gift, and life won’t be able to express itself through you fully."

We’ve become artists at creating brilliant ways to stop ourselves from stepping into our greatness.

To see Kyle Cease in action, check out this one minute video.

Back at the theatre, the room was abuzz with people saying their life from an imagined future. A book deal. A round the world cruise.

As I spoke visions of my life, I realized the foreignness of the exercise. The vision wasn’t that big. I began thinking bigger. S-t-r-e-t-c-h

What do a snowstorm, zoo and work have in common?

Finding your place.

I will begin with the snowstorm.

On January 11th this year, Portland, Oregon experienced an epic snowfall. In city more likely to experience rain than snow, the one foot of snow resulted in many closures. One of them was the Portland zoo.  (See the video at the end of this article.)

Inside the zoo, the keepers filmed animals playing in the snow.

One of the animals, a year-old polar bear named Nora who has always lived in captivity, is seen rolling and burying herself as she experiences more snow than she ever has in her life.

She looks delighted. 

What does this have to do with work?  A couple of things.

When you are in your element, you just know what to do.

Watching her roll around, we understand Nora knows in all her cells the nature of snow. It is as if she had done this her entire life.

When you find the work you were born to do, you will have a reaction like the polar bear. That spirit of delight and feeling alive.

When people discover the work that engages them in the right way, there is a recognition, almost on a cellular level. The work will be attached to your gifts and talents so there is an innateness about what you do.

Play is how we learn

All of the animals shown in the Portland Zoo share an instinct of curiousness about the snow. Their curiosity melds with playfulness as they enter into a new world. They run through the snow, roll their bodies in it and fling it in the air. 

When you are launching into work that fits for you, you will experience a spirit of curiosity, wanting to learn more about it and immersing yourself in all of its facets.

There will be a sense of play, as you have probably heard from others – this is so much fun, you would do this even if you weren’t being paid. 

Anything new includes a leap of faith

As I watched the elephant coming out of its enclosure and being exposed to the snow, there was a slight hesitation. I imagine it wondering what happened. And then off it went into the new world.

The idea of moving into something new in your life, even if it is something that is exciting has an element of stepping out of the familiar into newness. There is a time between leaving and entering where you have no idea what is before you.

Even if you have weighed the pros and cons, created a safety net and planned for potential obstacles, there will likely be a point where you have doubts and fears. And you will take the step anyway because you know that between you and where you want to go, this step has to be taken.

When I work with clients who are at this spot, I think of the Hero’s Journey, a mythic depiction of what humans experience again and again in our lives. The Hero reaches a point where a choice is made and there is no going back.


14 Best and Surprising Books to Think About Careers

Sometimes the best ideas arise where you least expect them. Sometimes you need to look at a perplexing problem from a new angle. And what better place than in books.

Below are some of the books that have shaped how I think about career exploration. Over the years they have been dusted off and read again and again. Besides instilling me with great ideas, they have been very practical in my day-to-day quandaries.

In some way each of them (and others too) have formed the basis for my career exploration model, motivation and when we get stuck.


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Psychologist and Neurologist Viktor Frankl wrote about his ordeal as a concentration camp inmate during World War II. What the experience taught Frankl is our main motivation is for life to have meaning.  This profound book taught me about suffering and how even in the most dire of situations, the way we handle the situation has to do meaningfulness.


I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher

Barbara Sher’s premise is that we do know what we want; our life is filled with clues. What she does in this book is provide a step-by-step guide to revealing your true aspirations. What I appreciate about Sher’s work is her ability to see around roadblocks and being truly on your side to finding career.


Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

I think of this book as a classic in my library. It has helped me understand that anytime we do anything new, fear appears in our life. If we aren’t feeling fear, we aren’t growing. The book has both the depth and simplicity to make life-altering changes in our lives.


The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford

Debbie Ford’s first book has a clear message about reclaiming our power by embracing the all sides of ourselves, even those we dislike or deny. How it has shaped my work is looking at the false limiting beliefs so they don’t trip you along the way. What Debbie Ford does is offer a perspective on looking at our dark sides as gifts.


Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Book You’ll Ever Need by Daniel H. Pink

Johnny Bunko is a guy who did everything that he was told to do. Now he is in a dead-end job. In a graphic novel format – manga-illustrated – this book offers 6 essential lessons for thriving in the world of work. This is a great book to recommend for some light-hearted yet great advice in a short read.


The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

To lead a meaningful life doesn’t mean you need to conform to the ideas of others. This book is about exploring your life as an adventure. Chris Guillebeau has demonstrated that with his life; by the time he was 35 years old, he had travelled to all the countries in the world. One of his career tips: “Don’t just escape from something; escape to something.” Chris’ ideas have helped me rethink about work and life.


Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham

Often when we are asked what are strengths are, we struggle with how to answer the question. Marcus Buckingham gives a helpful definition of strengths (hint: not necessarily what we are good at) and how to leverage them for work that is a great fit – where we will experience the most satisfaction and do our best work. This idea has played a key role in how I think about work that matters.


How to Find the Work You Love by Laurence G. Boldt

In this short book, Laurence G. Boldt provides a guide to reflect on the purpose of work through four key elements: Integrity, Service, Enjoyment and Excellence. He outlines how the world of work is changing and what we need to know to fit into that world. His focussing questions have helped me think about the purpose of work.


Luck is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance In Your Life and Career by John D. Krumboltz and Al S. Levin

Happenstance is one of those career theories that I was intrigued with when I trained as an employment counsellor. It is based on the idea that life gives many twists and turns and it is those events that lead to our career choices. The book has a friendly and easy-to-read style with ideas on making the best of happenstance.


The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction by James M. Citrin & Richard A. Smith

A key message in this book is that successful careers are managed and how to make the most of the career you do have. Still, within their 5 patterns, the authors have identified ideas for finding work that is a good fit. Two of the items focus on understanding yourself and what you have to offer. Original research.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This book is a simple fable based on a journey that turns into an understanding of what it is to be human. The messages are about the power of our dreams and listening to our hearts. What I appreciated about this book was the simple messages based on important principals and getting on your right path.


When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

The first idea about this book is we are always in the process of change. When we are knowing it is time to change our job or if we are flung into unemployment, this book offers much wisdom on navigating the difficulties. How it has informed my life is using her compassionate advice towards myself and opening up to new possibilities.


The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

This book is a powerful guide to for anyone making a big change in their lives. Each of the agreements can be applied directly to the work world. What I have appreciated is the code of conduct through which we can transform our lives.


One: How many people does it take to make a difference? by Dan Zadra

The purpose of the book is to inspire us to discover and celebrate our special gifts. This small, colourful book with great graphics and reflection questions is organized to explore what you have to offer. Inspiring and motivating! This book has helped me think about work in a creative way – seeing the career exploration process as a delight.

What are your favourite books around careers? Share in the comment section below.



Great Quotes That Will Change the Way You Look At Work

To the extent that your work takes into account the needs of the world, it will be meaningful; to the extent that through it you express your unique talents, it will be joyful.

Laurence G. Boldt


When you begin to design your future career around the way you actually are, you will discover that many of the inborn qualities you considered to be negatives turn out to be some of your biggest strengths.

Nicholas Lore


Where love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.

John Ruskin


Underneath all our worries about careers, jobs and retirements our purpose really comes down to living fully, to bringing our gifts to the light of day, regardless of position, promotion or pension.

Denise Bissonnette


I believe that you will be at your most productive, creative, focused, generous, and resilient when you figure out how to play to your strengths most of the time.

Marcus Buckingham


You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.

Maya Angelou


If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Paul and I, we never thought that we would make much money out of the thing. We just loved writing software.

Bill Gates


Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.



It is never too late to be what you might have been."

George Eliot


“How do I define success? Let me tell you, money’s pretty nice. But having a lot of money does not automatically make you a successful person. What you want is money and meaning. You want your work to be meaningful, because meaning is what brings the real richness to your life.”

Oprah Winfrey


Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.



If, in fact, the work you love is calling, the question then becomes: are you listening?

Laurence G. Boldt



Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

Steve Jobs


I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.

Joseph Campbell


Denise Lloyd - 3 Powerful Ideas for Loving What You Do

Denise Lloyd is a champion for happy workplaces.  “When people thrive, business thrives.”  Lloyd is the Chief Engagement Officer for Engaged HR, a Victoria company that helps employers build great places to work.

“No one should hate their job because of a crappy workplace.” Lloyd explains the connection between an unhappy worker and the effect of their misery as it spills onto their relationships, their home life, even their dog.

Finding work that clicked for her began when she was 19. Denise remembers an event that shaped her future.  She saw a flyer featuring the sale of paint.  The paint cans were illustrated with a pencil sketch.  She questioned why the hardware business didn’t use photographs as it would have been easy to do and have been much more effective. Her ability to connect the dots and get to what really matters shone through. 

Having travelled for a year after university, Lloyd felt aimless and didn’t know her next direction. Her mother, who worked in human resources, suggested business.

At Malaspina College in Nanaimo, Lloyd gravitated to Human Resources, a subject. that was easy for her and interesting. It still lights her up. She’s in her groove.

Denise Lloyd, Chief Engagement Officer - Engaged HR

Denise Lloyd, Chief Engagement Officer - Engaged HR

To find work that matters to you, Lloyd understands that the search is hard work with big rewards.  She offers 3 profound ideas:

Believe you are worth it.

Following a dream means being able to really believe in yourself. Lloyd adds that if you don’t believe that you are worth it, you won’t find the work that fits. You will settle.

Stay curious. 

Be open to opportunities wrapped in a challenge.  Pay attention – if you have had a great day, think specifically about why that is true.

Pay attention. 

Lloyd encourages others who are looking for their dream job to follow, listen, pay attention and absorb.  Most people, she adds, have something that is awesome; through their own journey, they inspire others.  She also encourages people to pay attention to their own selves and what fascinates them. 

Lloyd sees the direct connection between being inspired by what you do and doing work well. She says that it isn’t about paying your dues. It is about needing to put in the hours to learn, to become rich in experience and stories.

She likens the process to making stew; it is so much better the second day.  It is through the simmering process you become better and then tap into what you can offer others. 

Knowing what inspires her has lead to her business flourishing during tough economic times.  She is motivated by the interest, willingness and capacity to do better. 

What matters to Denise is fostering an environment where happiness is possible.  She works with employers on job descriptions and policies but understands that what really matters is the ability to change people’s lives.