Interview with Adam Kirk Smith: On becoming your bravest self

Vera: Congratulations on your new book ‘The Bravest You’ which provides a 5 step system for tackling fear. What are the cornerstones of that system?

Adam: Thanks so much! Yes, The Bravery Process™ has five steps, which are: complacency, inspiration, fear, passion, and bravery. Everyone experiences this process with their ideas, so it’s important to identify where one is in order to begin moving toward bravery. In complacency, people are stuck. To move into the next step of inspiration, one must have an idea that pulls them out of the first stage of complacency. In the third step, that of fear, your mind tells you all the reasons that you can’t instead of all the reasons why you can. But if your ideas are more important than your fears, the fourth step of passion will carry you to the fifth step of bravery. Passion has become such a buzzword, but I want people to realize that it’s much more than that. At its root, the word ‘passion’ means ‘to endure’. We need endurance paired with action to find bravery with our ideas.


Vera: You address 10 fears in your book. Let me pick on an unusual one-“The fear of missing out”. What is that about and what’s the best way to overcome it?

Adam: The fear of missing out is an addiction that 56 percent of people deal with. It causes people to focus on everything else going on in the world rather than being present where they currently are, and keeps people from leaving a lasting impact on others. The best ways to overcome this fear are to begin taking note of everything you are grateful for that is around you, to stop comparing yourself to others, and to get rid of the things in your schedule that don’t bring you joy and don’t move you toward your definition of success.


Vera: When you say that the foundation of every brave action is the belief that one can make a difference, that would suggest that not addressing one’s fears is selfishness?

Adam: Fighting our fears makes way for us to lead with our lives. When we don’t address our fears, it keeps us shying away from opportunities to influence other people. This is why my first book had to be on the subject of bravery; because without courage, leading others is impossible.


Vera: When one is afraid of doing something, you suggest that they ask themselves why that thing is important. What other questions/actions might give them the push they need?

Adam: “What is the worst that can happen?” sounds like a simple question, but it works well. I also like these two questions as well: “Who will my actions impact?” and “What would I do if I couldn’t fail and I had all the time to work on it?”


Vera: Becoming brave is obviously a process. Any advice on what to do when one needs to be brave in the moment/at short notice?

Adam: When all the reasons that we can do something outweigh all the reasons that we can’t, bravery is right around the corner. That being said, the best thing to do when bravery is needed quickly is to remind yourself of your self-worth. You are more than capable; you are worthy to find success; and you are more than enough. It’s time to truly believe those things.


Vera: Many times in the bid to succeed at something, one may keep going even when it may make sense for them to quit. You believe ‘quitting can be done correctly’. Talk me through that.

Adam: Quitting done correctly always makes room for something better. Here are some questions that people need to ask themselves when evaluating if it may be time to quit something in order to free up space in their schedule:

  • Is my health deteriorating, mentally or physically?
  • Am I experiencing constant frustration?
  • Do dead ends keep showing up?
  • Is my plan even working?
  • Would I rather be doing something awful rather than what I’m doing now?
  • Do I feel appreciated?
  • Is my life boring?
  • Is there little value found in what I am doing?

If you don’t like your answers to these questions, then it may be time to quit.


Vera: Choosing to live bravely is one thing, keeping it up daily is quite another, how does one develop the resilience necessary for staying brave?

Adam: Yes, the process is one that must be visited repeatedly, but the key is always found in one’s passion for what they are doing through their work and the passion they have for their life. That’s because one will always show up to put in the work when they love what they do. And it’s from this state of being where deep gratefulness comes as well.


Vera: You indicate that you were timid. What helped you handle your own fears and what do you do to continuously to raise your personal “brave” threshold?

Adam: Besides being passionate about the life I’m living, two things continuously keep me brave: understanding that I help other people with my work and realizing that life is short. Eighty years or so may sound like a long time, but in all actuality it’s not. So, not having the time or not wanting to waste precious time to dwell on my fears keeps my bravery muscles strong.


Adam’s profile

Adam Kirk Smith is the author of ‘The Bravest You’. Named one of the most influential people of 2014 by American Genius, Smith has written for Entrepreneur and Success Magazine, among other publications, and has been featured in Newsday and other media. His popular blog, offers insights on leadership, bravery, and life purpose, among other topics. He lives in Illinois with his family.


For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.