What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Someone asked me this question yesterday.

I dodged it about three times.

Then I was silent for a long time, my mind blank and my mouth dry, trying to be truthful with myself.


People sometimes congratulate me on co-starting Escape the City – “well, done on what you’re doing” / “you’re being so brave”. The reality is that more often than not I feel pretty fearful about things.

Fear is ever-present in what I do – fear of failing, fear of being wrong, fear of being judged, fear of not being good enough, […insert your favourite negative worry / fearful thought here].

It was fear of the unknown that kept me stuck in my corporate job when I knew that it wasn’t right for me. That fear wasn’t too bad actually – it was a comfortable fear – as long as I didn’t leave that environment I could coast along and only the act of escaping from my job would make me face it.

The fear of failure that I now face as an entrepreneur is much harder to ignore because I’m IN the situation that I fear.

Why does this matter?

It matters because it’s my fear of failure that leads directly to compromise, to thinking small, to playing safe, and to diluting our message. It matters because I care more about this idea succeeding than avoiding feeling afraid.

Ironically, as the person who challenged me yesterday pointed out: fear of failure makes you play safe, but playing safe makes you much less likely to reach your goals (and therefore, makes failure more likely).

Look at us, stuck in traps of our own making!!

The fact that I want everyone to approve of Escape the City leads me to water down the concept to make it acceptable to more people. This drives me mad.

If I genuinely want to avoid failure I need to stop apologising for what we stand for and I need to double-down on delighting the people who “get” what we are trying to achieve.

This is the only way we will create something genuinely different that has a positive impact in the world. Trying to please everyone is a surefire way of pleasing no one.

What would I say if I wasn’t afraid?

If I wasn’t afraid and if I stopped diluting our message this is what I’d say…

  • If you are happy in your corporate job that’s great (seriously), just don’t knock people who have realised they want to “do something different” with their lives and careers.
  • If you are unhappy in your job you owe it to yourself and the world to make a change. It’s not about making a mad leap. It’s about transitioning gradually and managing your risk.
  • Escape the City isn’t about opting out, it’s about opting into challenges that we consciously choose for ourselves. It’s about rejecting inefficient, unconscious, one-dimensional work in big organisations.
  • Stop making excuses – of course there are real blockers (the money question, skills, can’t find the right opportunity). There are also excuses (mainly fear-based). Are you going to let either stop you?
  • Don’t shoot the messenger – Can’t find a job for you on our site? You can either complain about it and continue behaving as if the world owes you a living or you can go find / create your own. Your choice.
  • No it’s not easy – if it was easy everyone would be living a well-paid life of real purpose. There is a vast distance between hard and impossible. Building a life on your own terms is the former.
  • There is no secret toolkit – stop searching for the easy way, anyone who has done this has done it through hard work, sacrifice and through consistently – somehow – overcoming the fear.
  • We need to use our time – we’re on this earth for a fraction of a second – it’s too precious to waste it stuck in fear, unfulfilled, and doing work that doesn’t matter (to us or to the world).

I’d also say…

If you don’t feel the same way, that’s fine, I’m going to carry on doing what I’m doing for the people who do. If you do feel the same way join us or come meet me at our next event – we’re building this for you.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?


[Rob is Esc’s Co-Founder. He has previously written about fear here: Rethink Fear In Your Career.]


[Check out our upcoming events here: http://www.theescapeschool.eventbrite.co.uk/]

What is Escape the City all about then?

Frustrated by climbing the corporate ladder, we decided to build a community to help people build meaningful careers doing work that matters – to them and to the world. We help talented people find fulfilling work by making big career changes, building businesses, & going on big adventures. We’d love you to come with us on this journey.

How do you get involved?

1. Job Seeker? Create an Escape Profile to get matched to exciting jobs.

2. Aspiring Career Changer / Entrepreneur? If you’re in London, come and see us at The Escape School.

3. Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to one of our newsletters. Find us on Facebook or @escthecity.

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