Fear. We all know it. We all face it. Fear is the common struggle of humanity. “Will I be successful?” “Will this job provide for my family?” “Will I have enough to pay my bills this month?” At one time or another, we have all asked these questions and more. Jon Acuff, popular author, blogger, and motivational speaker, recently spoke to TwoTen about overcoming the giant: fear.
Jon Acuff is a Wall Street Journal and New York Times best-selling author, the popular blogmaster of StuffChristiansLike.net, and a motivational speaker on Dave Ramsey’s Speaker’s Group team. He is the father of two beautiful children. He is a regular contributor to CNN.com. He is a social media guru.
How in the world did he get so awesome?
In his book Start, Jon Acuff has crafted a formula that depicts the average man’s journey to awesome through the conquering of fear. “Since the dawn of time, every awesome life has gone through the same five stages: learning, editing, mastering, harvesting, guiding,” says Jon in the first chapter of his book. Throughout the course of his narrative, Jon describes that these five stages may look different for every person, but in the end, the building blocks of an awesome life only appear when we are willing to confront the average.
The cover of Start gives three distinct directives to the individual seeking awesomeness within their professional or personal life: Punch Fear in the Face; Escape Average; and, Do Work that Matters. By embracing these three ideals, anyone can effectively break away from the average life in favor of the awesome.
Punch Fear in the Face
“In the fear chapter [of Start], I talk about two things that you should do with fear: write it down and share it,” said Jon. “A third thing I think you should do is refute it. By that I mean not to get entangled in it, not to argue with it—that’s just a waste of time—but refute it. Refute it with truth.” Truth, as defined in John 17:17, is the Word of God. We cannot be successful in business or life without the counsel and confrontation of Scripture.
Jon describes fear as the voices in our heads telling us we cannot accomplish anything, let alone awesomeness. When ready to confront the voices promising a destiny of failure, we must take the first step towards conquering fear: we have to write it down.
“Voices [in your head] are invisible bullies, and they hate when you make them visible,” said Jon on his website, www.jonacuff.com. “The best way to [make them visible] is to dress them up with words. To write them down in a simple notebook. They can’t stand to be documented, because the minute they are, you can see how stupid they are. Lies hate the light of day.”
Another proven way to conquer fear is to share that fear with others. Jon encourages individuals to not only confront fear, but to share it. “Don’t try to go it alone,” he says. “Write down all the fears you have, try and identify them, then share them with others. Fear is tricky because it is repetitive. You won’t have ten thousand fears in your lifetime, you’ll have a handful that disguise themselves in different ways, but that all come back to certain things. Identify [those fears] and find truth in them.”
Within the business world, it is easy to become isolated and to feel alone. Sharing both the keys to success and the fear of failure are monumental assets to punching fear in the face and achieving awesomeness.
Jon Acuff didn’t become a celebrity overnight; rather, he embraced the abrasiveness of change and escaped an average life. Having known that he wanted to be a writer since the third grade, Jon pursued all things grammar and found himself a senior copywriter with no place to go but into a Creative Director position. “I hit a ceiling at my job,” he said. “I knew management of people wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
It was at that point that he decided to step out of his comfort zone and grab the brass ring of awesomeness. Beginning with grassroots social media, Jon has transformed his career from a senior copywriter into a self-made celebrity.
“I started the blog, and one of the big things for me was a comment from an atheist that said, ‘I’ve never seen faith talked about this honestly. If I wasn’t an atheist, this is the kind of Christian I would want to be.’ What was snarky and silly became something that could be bigger. Writing came naturally, but that doesn’t mean it was without work or grind. I always tell people that you work harder at what you love than what you like,” said Jon.
By forging his own path, Jon found his niche. Social media became his platform to make a difference in the world. With over 5 million followers, his blog now reaches into the homes and hearts of America—something he never dreamed could happen when he first began a career as a copywriter.
“I don’t like the concept of reading a business book that says you have to do it this way or it doesn’t count or it isn’t right,” he said when asked about a generic plan for awesomeness. “Our culture fragments life—we think that we can’t take lessons from one part of our lives and apply it to another. I always try to encourage people to read books, listen to speeches, read magazines through the filter of you. The talent we have the hardest time recognizing is our own. If it’s your thing, [if it’s your talent], then you have the full wind of God behind you.”
By identifying his own unique talents and interests, developing his personal voice, punching the fear of failure in the face, and embracing the awesomeness of his own abilities, Jon Acuff escaped average.
Do Work that Matters
What matters to you? What are you doing that matters? To live an awesome life, these are the questions that need to be answered. Being awesome is more than simply knowing you’re awesome; being awesome means that your world, your business, and your family know you’re more than average. It is about making a difference.
For Jon, the decision to join Dave Ramsey’s Speakers Group was more than just another successful career move. Joining the team was a purposeful choice to do work that mattered. On his blog, he answers the question about why he joined the team.
"I wanted to be a leader. Not a leader who leads on stage, but not at home. That’s not a leader, that’s an actor. Not a leader who speaks about truth but doesn’t really live it out. I wanted to be an honest, passionate, and generous leader."Jon Acuff
“I had the suspicion that Dave Ramsey was that kind of leader and could help me become one too.”
By becoming a motivational speaker for Dave Ramsey, by publishing books on fear, by writing blogs on awesomeness, Jon Acuff is showing the world how to matter. He is living an example of how to start being awesome today. He has found a work that matters for eternity and has embraced it. Truly, the countless millions of blog followers, book readers, and business achievers that have benefitted from his story are only a testament to his awesomeness.
But, he’s nowhere near done.
“For me, I don’t know what it means to have arrived! For every one person that reads one of my books, there’s an additional billion that haven’t heard. I haven’t arrived. I’m not done.”
The business world is full of possibilities of failure, but refusing to break away from that fear is a choice that results in a lifetime of mediocrity. Fear is either a policy for average or a platform for awesome. Today, embrace that awesome by punching fear in the face, by escaping the average life, and by doing the work that matters for eternity!