"Don't Let the Fear Win" By Greg Faxon - Book Review

If it doesn’t scare you, it is probably not worth doing at all.
— Greg Faxon, Don't Let the Fear Win


The author is a former All-American wrestler, world-class Spartan Racer, coach to entrepreneurs and other coaches, and a teacher with an extraordinarily clear style and generous heart.

A core assumption of the book is the following equation (from Timothy Gallwey):

Performance = Potential - Interference

Since human potential is limitless, this means your performance can be too.

All you need to do is, “identify what’s stopping you, clarify your vision, and then taking tangible steps toward building your ultimate business.”

The core idea of the book: to become a champion entrepreneur you have to regularly confront your fears. Doing anything else — even if it appears productive — is actually what the author calls “creative avoidance.” This includes:

  • General busyness

  • Researching your competition too much

  • Obsessing over new tools and tactics

  • Etc.

Other core ideas (also explained below):

Big You / Little You.  Big You is the part of yourself that wants to give your gifts to the world. It’s driven by love. Little You is the part of you that is afraid and doesn’t want to be rejected or forgotten. To become the champion you’re meant to be, you want Big You to love Little You. Don’t try to squash it. Instead have self-compassion. Big you needs to love, take care, listen, and make space for Little You to feel safe and grow. Just like a parent and a child. As Big You guides Little You, you’ll more successfully confront, and grow from, your fears.

Inner Game / Outer Game. In any activity (e.g. sports, business, etc.) there is an outer game and an inner game. The outer game includes things like strategies, tactics, techniques. Inner game is about beliefs, mindsets, and emotional habits. Most people spend 90% of their time on the outer game, when in fact they’d be better off spending 90% on the inner game. This is an example of creative avoidance.

The author shares many more powerful ideas, including several mindset shifts.

Core Concepts

Performance = Potential - Interference

  • You already have success within you

  • Just need to identify what’s stopping you, clarify your vision, and take tangible steps toward that vision

  • From Timothy Gallwey

Outer Game - strategies, tactics, techniques.

  • Most people give this 90% of their effort.

Inner Game - beliefs, mindsets, emotional habits.

  • Most people give this 10% of their effort.

  • It's not about pep talks. It’s about exposing lies slowing you down.

Creative Avoidance - the subconscious act of using your imagination to prioritize peripheral tasks in order to avoid taking action on scarier, more important tasks.

  • Invisible

  • Covers tracks

  • Rooted in fear

  • Common methods of creative avoidance:

    • #1 for entrepreneurs: selling

    • Saying “yes” to things that don’t align with (business) goals

    • Collecting more tools/apps

    • Gathering more information

    • General busyness


  • Fear isn’t the problem. The problem is our learned reaction to it

  • Melt fear by starting a keystone habit (e.g. the author was afraid of writing, so he started with blog posts every week, then wrote a 16 page PDF, then this 60 page book)

  • Pick something that gives you butterflies but doesn’t paralyze you

  • Common fears:

    • Competing with the best

    • Rejection

    • Being forgotten

Little You - The scared child inside you

  • Driven by fear

  • Doesn’t want rejection or to be forgotten. Wants to be kept safe.

  • Triggered by uncertainty, judgement, fear of looking stupid

Big You - The confident, giving parent inside you

  • Driven by love

  • Gives it’s gift.

  • Big You needn’t dominate Little You. Don’t beat it down. Instead, listen to it. Acknowledge it. Love it. Take care of it. Keep it safe. Provide independence and confidence to grow.

High Intention Low Attachment (HILA)

  • Give energy to what you can control (process) not what you can’t control (outcomes)


  • What you have control over (e.g. how hard you work, how much fun you have, how present you are)

  • Celebrate the process more than the results!


  • Something you can see in mind’s eye

  • Clear, specific, focus/narrow on something specific

  • Beyond the self

  • The change you most want to make for people

  • This is your Why, and it inspires others to join you

  • It’s different from your mission

  • After finding your vision, pick a trackable metric (for many entrepreneurs it’s minutes spent in sales calls each day)

Your Team

  • It’s not just employees. Acknowledge this, and give it energy and attention

  • Includes:

    • Contractors

    • Assistants

    • Colleagues

    • Referral partners

    • Family

    • Friends

  • Team works best if each person is in their zone of genius

  • Move toward shared vision using clear agreements and communication

  • Synergy


  • Lower it by:

    • Minimizing anticipation

    • Maximizing being in flow

  • Do this by:

    • Develop presence. Notice around you, mindfulness, breathing before a call

    • Momentum. Small consistent steps toward vision. Stop planning and focus on next Most Important Thing. When is the time to plan, when execute?

Keystone Habit

  • A simple habit to engrain

  • Start small and work up (e.g. taking a cold shower, doing body weight exercises in the morning, etc.)

The Loop

  • Checking competitor’s websites and social media endlessly

Self perception theory - we draw inferences about who we are based on our behavior. Attitudes follow actions. So act like a champion now.


  • Rooted in unclear priorities

  • Solve by creating space (e.g. meditating). Then ask: “What is the next scary action I need to take?”

Healthy Rituals (e.g. morning/daily/weekly)

  • Touch emotional, intellectual, physical aspects

Mindset Shifts / Reframing


It's for the chosen few => It's actually a muscle you can strengthen


Champions are fearless => Champions feel fear and do it anyway


It's manipulative => it's transformative

  • “Selling is one of the most important services that you provide”

  • Help them invest in the underlying benefit (e.g. magic, wonder, awe, adventure)

It's ancillary => It's an extension of your product/service

  • Make it more fun

  • Focus on what you can control (# times you ask, creating content) not on what you can't control (actual sales, content going viral)

  • Anything that feels icky about selling can be done in another way

  • #1 thing entrepreneurs creatively avoid


It's about the money => It’s a “channel through which you can actualize fullest potential”


It comes from doing more and more => It comes from doing less (and making space for new ways to emerge)


It comes from eureka moments => It comes from taking action

You Personal Worthiness

It comes from outer success => You are already 100% worthy

Your Opponent

Your opponent is other people => Your opponent is you.

  • Inner game is critical


They are roadblocks => They are another way to become the champion you’re meant to be

Focus on external obstacles => focus on inner game


I can go it alone => every elite performer needs a coach

What is Valuable

Learn more, work harder, adhere to status quo => Overcome creative avoidance, be vulnerable, become best in world at what you do, be brave enough and put in emotional labor to connect to others

Giving Your Gifts

It’s just a nice thing to do => You're actually morally obligated to give your gifts (think of the folks who would love to give their gifts but can't because they are incapacitated)

Work/Life Balance

It’s possible => Instead, focus on integrating, synergizing all components of life


They are driven to win (or not to lose)  => They are driven by love (of process, of work, of craft, of serving clients)

They act like champions after they win => They act like champions before they win

  • Champions act “as if” they already are champions.

  • How would you act if you were already a champion?

  • What would Richard Branson, Oprah, or Elon Musk do?