Michelle Poler grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, thinking that fear was normal because that is what she saw every day of her life. It was not until she was out on her own that she started to recognize all of the fears that were so deeply engrained in her. She eventually acknowledged that she was never going to be able to accomplish the things that she wanted to do with her life if she was driven by fear. So, when she was assigned a 100 day project in her grad school program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, she decided that she would face one of her fears, each day for 100 days.
100 Days Without Fear was transforming for Michelle. It not only gave her the time and space to conquer her fears, but allowed her to be more present in her life. She found that she started living it more fully as she pushed herself outside of her comfort zone – enjoying the city in the way she had always hoped she would. The project went viral almost half way through, and from that point forward it changed her life trajectory in the most positive of ways. On Day 59 of her project, she quit her job to focus on her fear-facing mission full time.
Day 100 of the project was Michelle speaking at TEDx Houston about the 99 days that proceeded. This launched what would become her new career – traveling the world to speak about fear and what she learned by facing her own. We all have fears – some fears are necessary and others are self-created. Some motivate us, while others hold us back. The first step is recognizing that you have them (and that we all do!), while the second is running toward them instead of away from them.
In the podcast episode we talk about the difference between universal fears, cultural fears and personal fears, the limitations of our comfort zones and the steps you can take to not let fear inhibit you from living your purpose! Listen below to learn more about Michelle’s Chapter Be story…
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
the person you’d be if you had the courage
What’s your favorite quote, story or fact?
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” –Suzy Kassem
Worst work experience?
Speaking to the wrong audience, like what happened to me during my first paid gig. I had to travel to Wisconsin to speak in front of an audience that was not looking to get inspired and resisted change. They were not in the room voluntarily, their employer made them attend my presentation. It felt like a monologue the entire time, when the right audience can make a presentation feel like a conversation.
What is your definition of success?
Find happiness doing what you love to do. For some happiness comes in the shape of dollars, but for others it is about freedom, quality time, passion, nostalgia. Whatever it is, it’s doing things because we want to, not because we have to.
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
This is the main reason why I moved to NY. You get inspired to create just by walking around your block. The variety you see in the streets allows your mind to travel and come up with ideas on the spot.
What does “to be” mean to you?
“To be” means to have purpose in life and do things with intention as much as possible. “To be” means to have control of your life and not live in autopilot just because you were born.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
Watching Youtube videos, learning from other creators.
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
Rather Be by Clean Bandit
LINKS & RESOURCES…
- 100 Days Without Fear
- Hello Fears
- My submission to Hello Fears about starting Chapter Be!
- Submit your story to Hello Fears!
- Hello Fears YouTube Channel
- Michelle’s TEDx Talk
- The School of Visual Arts – Masters in Branding
- Savannah College of Art and Design
- Michelle’s Talk at World Domination Summit
- Michelle’s resignation letter
- Simon Sinek – Start with Why
Images via Michelle Poler