“How are you going to make a million dollars in a year?” he said as he finished off his second beer with a thoroughly satisfied sigh.

This was a textbook Bro Night question. For the uninitiated, Bro Night was a weekly informal—but rigorously observed—evening gathering in which ‘The Bros’ (which included a few close friends and myself) would meet and challenge / encourage each other.

It would usually involve a bit of grub, beer, talk of dreams and ambitions, and always a little bit of debate.

Steve, arguably the sage of the group, would often start with a slightly too-outrageous question or provocative statement. I believe one of his first was, “What if we just taxed abortion.” But this particular week, his question was “How are you going to make a million dollars in a year?”

Of course, as was our custom, we argued for a half-an-hour (or about one round of beers), whether or not this was even a good goal, but eventually Steve prevailed “for the sake of argument,” and we got down to the nitty gritty.

A couple of business ideas (and a platter of buffalo wings) later, we all pushed back from our chairs and wiped our hands with the moist towelettes when we started talking about what was keeping us from trying these business ideas.

Sure, money, time, resources were mentioned, but we discovered the main reason we weren’t pursuing our business ideas, and also our dreams, was fear.

And so, with the table set, came the most legendary monologue ever delivered at Bro Night. Almost as if it was planned, Steve began:

“Most people are afraid of 4 things. Money. People. Failure. And Success.”

And he wasn’t wrong. I was afraid of all of them at the time.

Fear of loving it
Fear of having it
Fear of not having it
Fear of mismanaging it

Fear of other people’s opinions of you
Fear of their responses to you
Fear of their actions towards you

Fear of appearing less-than
Fear of being defined by your failures

Fear of the pressure
Fear of ‘making it’ because once you make it, people might expect more of you

Then, one by one, Steve dismantled each one.

Money is just money. It’s just a number or a tool, whether you have $1,000 or $1.

People are just people. They put their pants on the same way everybody else does—with scotch tape. Wait, is that not how you put your pants on?

Failure is an adventure. It means you’re learning. Give yourself permission to suck at something and to have fun!

Your value doesn’t come from your success or failure. It’s just a bonus. Relish success, but never idolize it. Don’t let success define you, and it will never deprive you.

And so, throughout my life, when I’m paralyzed by fear or confusion (for example, not knowing what I should write my blog post about this month—eek!), I return to this list I learned at Smokey Bones one Bro Night and remember fondly the words of wisdom shared over a round of Sam Adam’s Boston Lager.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Do you struggle with one of these fears? Which are you most afraid of and why? Did Steve miss a fear? (Stupid Steve.) How are you going to make a million dollars in a year? Hit me up in the comments below.

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