What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?: How to Transform Fear into Courage

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?: How to Transform Fear into Courage

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by Nina Lesowitz, Mary Beth Sammons, Meredith Mitchell

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"What would you do if you know you could not fail?" These words, attributed to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, have inspired tens of millions to face their fears and dare to follow their hearts. This can-do compendium is a veritable tool kit for transforming readers from reticent to role model. From the authors of Living Life as a


"What would you do if you know you could not fail?" These words, attributed to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, have inspired tens of millions to face their fears and dare to follow their hearts. This can-do compendium is a veritable tool kit for transforming readers from reticent to role model. From the authors of Living Life as a Thank You, this volume present true stories of ordinary people with extraordinary fortitude. Authors Mary Beth Sammons and Nina Lesowitz have gone to the front lines of adversity and fear to surface the brave hearts who took action before they were forced to, confronting and overcoming their fears in inspirational ways. From world-class athletes, to spiritual teachers, to cancer patients, to ordinary people who took extraordinary action to transform their lives, these courage warriors teach readers to turn apprehension into action. Enriched with motivational quotes and power practices, this courage guidebook advises how to live life with guts and gusto. Readers learn to face and transform their fear, apply the art of tenacity when times are tough, embrace the lessons and gifts of a crisis that lead to personal growth, and simple, effective, and proven methods for confidence and courage.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Enhanced with motivational stories, expert advice, and hands-on exercises, this courage guidebook will help you turn apprehension into action to reap the many benefits of living your life with confidence."
New Thought Magazine

"This is one of the most inspirational books I’ve read in a long time. No matter what challenge you’re facing, be it cancer, the death of a loved one, or the heartbreak of your life, you can’t help but feel encouraged and inspired while reading this book. By the time you finish it, you’ll have a deep sense of knowing that whatever happens, you can—and will—get through it."
—Janet Kelly, Isabella

"This is an excellent pick me up book. Feeling down? Need a little push to help you get your life started in the direction you’d like to go? What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?"
—Networking Witches

"Don’t wait another minute—this book could change your life."
—Mama Wolfe

"The authors share personal stories, expert advice, exercises and more in this delicious little book as way to teach us how to live every day of our lives with confidence."
—My So-Called Sensory Life

"Enhanced with motivational stories, expert advice, and hands-on exercises, this courage guidebook helps readers turn apprehension into action to reap the many benefits of living your life with confidence."
—Stacy Juba

"This book is jam-packed full of great information, inspiration, and key steps to take if you need a huge dose of courage to move forward."
—Over 50 Feeling 40

"The stories of courage within the book really touched me and only proved that nothing is impossible."
—Dominique's Desk

"Whether you know it or not, you are a brave person.

You may not feel like it, but the fact is, you've used courage throughout your life to survive tough times. If you lacked the ability to be brave, you would never have survived to be where you are now.

What's more, your existence today was made possible by a long line of brave people who came before you and surround you now—your ancestors, your teachers; the people who built the community where you live, and those who have protected it and made it a place worth living in. Your courage, in other words, isn't yours alone. It's part of a long tradition, handed down through generations: A quality that sustains not just you, but the people who will come after you as well.

In this book, Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons recount the stories of some of these people, men and women whose courage has kept them going, gotten them to new places, and made a difference for others. In these pages, you'll meet everyday heroes who have suffered loss, grief, and unexpected life changes, and you'll read about how each of them dug down deep, found the courage within themselves, and brought it to the surface of their lives where it could shine.

I've written about my own journey toward fearlessness in my memoir, Smile at Strangers, and Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly, and in my online column at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Many of the lessons I've learned through my training as a self defense instructor and martial artist are echoed in Nina and Mary Beth's book: Do your homework. Master a skill. Explore. Leave your comfort zone. Change the way you think. Surround yourself with supportive people. Find role models. Focus on the present. But above all, do something—take charge of your fear and control your own destiny.

The advice you'll find in this book is practical, and simple—though it's not always easy. But I can bear witness to the fact that it transforms lives. Every time I teach a karate class or a self defense workshop, I see people learning these same truths: Believe in yourself. Don't give up. Fight for what you believe in. I've watched men and women work through bad experiences they've had in the past, and find ways to take charge of their future. I've come to realize that human beings are brave every day; it comes naturally to us, when we let it—when we believe it's possible.

So perhaps the most important message the stories in this book have to impart is this: Courage is within reach for all of us. It's a quality we can cultivate and nurture. We can study it and analyze it, and we can practice it, step by step, along all the paths in our life. In these pages you'll hear how men and women just like you and me have taken the small, repeated steps that add up to a courageous life. Nina and Mary Beth have given us a map so we may follow in their footsteps."
Susan Schorn, author of McSweeney's Columnist

"Thank you to Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons for putting this wonderful literary project together which is sure to have a long-lasting positive impact upon many."
–Alexis Moore, Sacramento Abusive Relationships Examiner

"Features stories of ordinary people who have found extraordinary ways to tap into the fortitude within."
–My Breast Cancer Blog

"The people and the stories are uplifting, inspirational reminders that life can be lived richly."
–Rita Watson, National Love and Relationships Examiner

"Lesowitz and Sammons illustrate to their readers that the potential for courage is not only applicable to fictional heroes."

"As the book progresses, you will find yourself overwhelmed with positive feelings." — Evan Karp, San Francisco Literary Culture Examiner for Examiner.com, for Living Life as a Thank You

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?" is a book I intend to keep by my bedside when I need to be reminded of all the people in the world who have exhibited extraordinary acts of bravery when faced with the every day trial of life. It's impossible to feel alone when you read this book—you cannot help but be inspired.”
— Lee Woodruff, author of Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress, and life and family contributor for “Good Morning America” on ABC-TV

"A marvelous book of inspiration and instruction, with stories of real-life people living lives of courage, as well as a variety of tips, tools, and reminders on 'how to life live with true power.'" — BJ Gallagher, Huffpost Books

"This book is very uplifting not only because you can read about how real people persevere, but it also makes you quite grateful for the blessings you have in your life." — Cake Mom

"Lesowitz and Sammons demonstrate through life stories, quotes, and tool kits that gratitude can be the key to kicking an addiction, healing the planet, or just staying sane in a traffic jam. A particularly poignant chapter discusses how to find grace and wisdom in good-byes. This compelling book goes beyond Random Acts of Kindness but inspires the same hope and motivation for good. Buy two copies: one for the library and another for yourself." — From a starred review of Living Life as a Thank You in Library Journal

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its honesty gave me the courage and the strength that I needed to get through some tough times. It helps you see the light when you're feeling lost or discouraged about something."

"By sharing stories of extraordinary people who felt fear, but took action anyway, Lesowitz and Sammons have provided a guide for all of us to navigate our own path to living courageously—to face and transform our fears so that we can relax and reach deep within to find hope and opportunity in life's challenges"
—Susannah Kent, Vitality Magazine

"For those who think they cannot change their lives, these stories will provide encouragement and hope"
—Monica Carter, forwardreviews.com

"A handy, compact book whose size belies the big impact its many stories hold within"
Portland Book Review

Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Overcoming Fear and Facing the Unknown

If you really don't believe that you can do something, you can say to yourself: I will turn pain into purpose. I will try to turn pain into a fulcrum that moves the world to help.
—ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer

We are living in difficult times. The stock market tumbles again. Headlines promise more waves of layoffs, more foreclosures, and a deeper recession. Businesses are closing. Swine flu and other health outbreaks threaten us on a seemingly daily basis. And headlines speak of global terrorists.

Who wouldn't have an anxiety attack just thinking about all this? How in the world are we supposed to act with courage in times fraught with so much talk of disaster? The great uncertainty of our time naturally provokes fear.

So how do we pursue our dreams at times when we so acutely face the fear of such huge unknowns? What do we do if we've lost our jobs? Or are thinking about changing a career, starting a new relationship, or making lifestyle changes? Our lives are fraught with experiences—large and small—where we must muster the courage to face the unknown.

One thing that the people featured in this chapter have shown us is that without personal courage, it is impossible to survive and thrive in times of great challenge. As poet Maya Angelou challenges: "You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated." That is the attitude the people in this chapter share—a willingness to meet life's challenges and to forge ahead in the unknown with the mantra "Never give up."

When we start to worry about the outcome, we can begin imagining awful things that aren't there. Worrying is not insurance that nothing will ever go wrong. Worrying doesn't substitute speculation for action; it is just an exhausting exercise. In this chapter we tell the stories of people who evaluated their options and harnessed their vivid imaginations to help them overcome fear.

It's also important to remember that you are not alone. Almost everybody worries about what will happen in the future. The prospect of not knowing whether something good or bad will happen to you in the near future can produce a lot of fear and anxiety. So, remember to take one day at a time. In this chapter, we look to role models who offer some specific steps for facing the fear of the unknown.

No one can predict the future or control what happens, but we can face our fears by preparing for the challenge. It's important to surround ourselves with support and to engage in positive self-talk or visualization of the outcome. Imagine yourself working in your dream job. We also can focus specifically on what it is we are afraid of and what is at stake and take appropriate action to make the change.

Top 10 Fears

1. Public speaking

2. Snakes

3. Confined spaces

4. Heights

5. Spiders

6. Tunnels and bridges

7. Crowds

8. Public transportation (especially airplanes)

9. Storms

10. Water (swimming and drowning)

(Source: Face Your Fears Today, faceyourfearstoday.com)

Meet the Author

Nina Lesowitz is a leader in women's business in the San Francisco Bay Area. A volunteer for literacy organizations, she also runs Spinergy Group, which represents authors, corporate clients, and nonprofits.
The recipient of a National Award for Excellence in media relations, she’s the coauthor of the bestselling Party Girl Cookbook. She lives in

Mary Beth Sammons is an award-winning journalist and author whose work appears in Family Circle, the Chicago
’s lifestyle section, and on various health and wellness websites. She is grateful to be welcomed into the lives of those she writes about who are experiencing the ups and downs of handling life, parenting, and caregiving. She’s the author of a number of books, including We Carry Each Other: Getting Through Life’s
Toughest Times
; My Family: Collected Memories; and Gifts with Heart. She lives in Chicago.

Meredith Mitchell is an actress who has performed in such films as Mona Lisa Smile and The Reunion, on stage with Shakespeare & Company and the New Repertory Theatre, and on television on Good Morning America. She received her BA in psychology from Emory University and her MFA in acting from Brandeis University.

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What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?: How to Transform Fear into Courage 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, especially for its anecdotes and the “power practice” that followed each chapter. The examples of bravery provided in the book illustrate that everyday people can and do act bravely in times of crisis. These stories remind us that we have the power to act bravely, too.  One of the great takeaways for me is that bravery isn’t always revealed in the big choices you make, but also in the small ones. Using one of the quotes from Mary Anne Radmacher included in the book: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow.” 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We would all be better people if we didn’t fear failure or hardships. When I think about my fears, I think about those who live in adversity every day (adversity really isn’t a loose term). Yeah, I don’t like waking up and being broke every day, but I get by. I don’t live on the streets or have kids while being a single parent. I’m afraid I don’t really know adversity. But nevertheless, I still wake up afraid to start my day. Afraid of being too comfortable and too lackluster to even try. That, in and of itself, is terrifying to think about. This book (yes, he finally gets to the review part of this) was inspiring and eye opening. I often procrastinate to avoid doing the tough work or making the hard decision. Fear and embarrassment are central driving factors in human growth. I’ve really learned that any failure is a triumph as you learned something and will grow from that experience. I really took a lot from the “Just Try It” Section. The chapter on speaking up was really great, because I often avoid opportunities or assignments just because I’m afraid of speaking in front of people. I’ve failed classes because I refused to do a presentation in class. This book made me re-think those decisions and see how silly that fear is. This book gets five stars in content, inspiration, and presentation (the book is perfect size for sitting back and reading).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pure Inspiration! We all find ourselves afraid sometimes and this book was my bible to get me though the dark times. The stories were very inspiring and my favorite were the practices and excellent advice on facing adversity. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs encouragement!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the approach these authors take in developing courage in the reader. It's all about baby steps. In chapter one, they'll introduce you to what courage means (its root is in Old French; who knew?); and chapter by chapter, they build on what you've learned and strengthen you so that by the end of the book, you've got the courage you need to proceed in life. I genuinely feel that reading this book has made me a more courageous individual!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There was a quote in that blew my mind: "Courage is looking fear right in the eye and saying, 'Get the hell out of my way, I've got things to do.'" The book is meant as a guide to living a better life. In it, the authors interview inspiring people and comment on their heroic actions. Lesowitz and Sammons really try to answer exactly what makes a person brave. My favorite interview is with Angela Logan who baked cake in order to support her family. The book is meant to warm your heart and inspire you. Courage is within all of us, and the authors tell us how to use it in everyday life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An inspiring read about facing adversity, finding your voice, and harnessing your inner courage. Definitely a worthy read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So inspiring and a great source of motivation for anyone...I think the best part of this book is its inclusion of stories from real people. I find that so inspiring and it makes Nina and Mary Beth's advice much more tangible. Would recommend to anyone.