The only way you’re going to learn and grow is a willingness to feel fear. I took the well-meaning advice of coaches and friends and colleagues that what you want to do is conquer and overcome fear…it doesn’t really work. It makes you feel calm for a moment. But the second you take a bad turn, the fear comes rushing back in.
If there is one woman who has had an up-close-and-personal relationship with fear, it’s Kristen Ulmer.
At 20, Kristen was skiing in jeans for the love of it .
By 23, she was on the US moguls ski team, starred in the first of 20 extreme skiing movies and was named the ski media as best woman big mountain extreme skier in the world (a ‘title’ she held for 12 years).
She was known for jumping off up to 21m/70ft cliffs, throwing flips and for ski mountaineering feats such as the first female ski descent of Wyoming’s Grand Teton.
This is a woman who came face to face with fear, in life-and-death situations, regularly and she developed a very intimate relationship with it.
However it was only towards the end of her career, as injuries, illness and PTSD took their toll, she began to realise her relationship with fear wasn’t healthy and that it has caused or contributed to many of these problems.
And so she began an in-depth study and obsession with fear.
Fast forward to now and she’s the author of a book called The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What To Do Instead.
The premise behind it is that conquering, mastering, and trying to overcome fear doesn’t work (because it’s a normal, natural and instinctive human experience) and instead we need to learn to embrace our fear and listen to it (rather than trying to ignore it or quieten it down).
So in this conversation we discuss:
* how she got into skiing as a kid,
* how developing her self-esteem off the snow contributed to a rapid improvement in her skiing between 20 and 23,
* the surprising ways fear can manifest itself into illness and injury,
* the important distinction between fear and your resistance to it,
* why Kristen says that if you don’t like fear, you don’t like yourself’,
* the importance of changing our language about fear and how we talk about it,
* why the fear of rejection as the “greatest fear you’ll ever have”
* how the fear of failure motivates some people and causes others to procrastinate and/or stay on the couch,
* why we’ve been taught to feel shame about our fear,
* how men and women differ in how they deal with fear,
* why you should have a ‘fear practice’ and what it looks like.
Now this is a longer conversation than normal and here’s why ~
A couple of hours after I got off the phone with Kristen, I was standing in my kitchen and realised there was a very obvious and important question I hadn’t thought to ask.
So Kristen very kindly agreed to hop back on the phone 24 hours later and answer that (bonus) question.
So keep listening past our initial ‘goodbye’ and you’ll hear the post-script to our first conversation.
Notes and resources: