Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Whatever scares you, go do it

Sometimes people ask me if there’s one motto or rule-of-thumb I use most often. This is it.

Whatever scares you, go do it.

I’ve been using that rule for both small and big things in life, for 20 years, and it’s served me well.

On a small level, it can be that little nervous moment, where you’re scared to talk to someone intimidating. You notice you’re scared. Aha! Whatever scares you, go do it. So you go talk to them.

On a big level, it can be that huge terrifying idea that won’t go away. Starting a business. Visiting a country. Quitting your job. Whatever scares you, go do it.

Fear is just a form of excitement, and you know you should do what exites you.

Best of all, once you do something that scared you, you’re not scared of it anymore! As you go through life, doing everything that scares you, then you fear less and less in the world.

Legendary psychologist Abraham Maslow said it well: “Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.”

I heard that as a teenager, took it to heart, and made this rule. Whatever scares you, go do it.