Have the courage to be disliked.

One little quote that would change my life forever.

A few years ago, while going public with my story, I learned a lot about fear…including my own. Whenever the fear of public backlash would creep in, I would re-read that quote: “Have the courage to be disliked.” In those quiet, apprehensive moments, it reminded me of what I needed to do: face my fears head-on, no matter the consequence.

This whole experience has taught me that the biggest roadblock we face in nearly every aspect of our lives is the fear of standing up for ourselves. The number of women who reached out to me during this time was surprising. But the painful part was learning just how many of them live with an overwhelming amount of regret. When faced with similar acts of discrimination and retaliation, they chose to let it go. Their fears kept them silent.

Since then, fear and courage have become two of my favorite words. We all know why being courageous is admirable. But fear? Well, here’s the amazing part about fear: courage is nothing without it. No one has ever been courageous without first being fearful. And being courageous is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give to ourselves. Yet, it requires the presence of fear to achieve it. That knowledge alone is a game-changer. It transforms fear from something we perceive as a negative in our lives into something we can–and should–embrace. By letting go of the silence and secrecy of our fears, we allow courage to take over.

My message to every audience is about embracing our fears instead of trying to be fearless. Because a life without fear is a life without courage…and courage is the key to living a life filled with purpose and meaning.

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