128: Patrick Sweeney: Fear Guru, Keynote Speaker, Author, and TEDx Speaker helping companies create a culture of courage, shares how he managed to go from overcoming an exhaustive work-over-everything mentality and being consumed by fear to aligning his life with balance, family, and courage.

December 6, 2019

Patrick Sweeney

Patrick Sweeney, who grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and was diagnosed with leukemia. “I was born first generation Irish immigrants in Boston, blue-collar neighborhood. My parents didn’t go to college or anything like that. My dad is working three jobs. I had a really rough time growing up. But I had a bunch of trauma events as a child that planted this seed of terror in me.” In order to create an image to protect himself with when he was younger, Patrick trained for the Olympics for six years, coming in second in the Olympic trials, 10th in the world, rowed the World Cup for three years, and started three technology companies, raising over $50 million dollars. 

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Patrick Sweeney, Fear Guru, Keynote Speaker, Author, and TEDx Speaker who is helping companies create a culture of courage. Patrick discusses the importance of seeing what is on the other side of fear and embracing the things that we are depriving ourselves of. “I learned that if I was going to live life, I had to choose courage instead of succumbing to fear all the time.” 

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What You Will Learn:

Patrick Sweeney discusses the book he has been writing about fear. “As I started to learn more about courage and that sort of thing, I’ve interviewed now over 36 neuroscientists over the past five years for this book Fear is Fuel, which is coming out in January (2020). And during that time, one thing that is clear to me is that we all have something I call a ‘fear frontier.’ So, before you are 10 or 12 years old, you have an event or a series of events that you have to create a defense mechanism to.”

What was the root of all of his fear as he sees it? “I saw a plane crash when I was 7 years old and that planted that seed of terror inside me and so, two things happen when a traumatic event occurs. First, you create what is called a semantic memory, and those are just the facts. That gets written into your internal database. For me it was Delta, DC9, 100 people died, Logan Airport, rainy day, and that was it.” 

“The second thing you get is the emotional memory. Death, dismemberment, I might have lost my parents. It could of been me. And at the same time too, I had a grandfather who felt that the way to make me stronger was to take his belt off and put me over the bed and beat me with it.” The way Patrick would respond to all of this was with a fear-based mechanism that prompted him to run away.

Having a supportive wife, of 20 years now, and being a father has been a significant part of Patrick Sweeney’s stability and drive to fight his fears face-to-face. “Uniquely enough, I decided I was going to get over that fear of flying. So, I started taking flying lessons. I got to tell you. The first one, I think I peed four times before I made it out to the plane.” Patrick Sweeney actually fell in love with flying by the third or fourth lesson and got his private pilot license, his commercial license, and even started competing in aerobatics. 

Patrick discusses the advice he learned about his fears of not constantly working. “You’ve got to embrace that little boy in you. When you do something like go out and play on the rock or go and play on the ski slope or whatever, you’ve got to let go of this fact that you feel guilty that you should be working.”

Another Way to Live Life

What was the common reaction when Patrick Sweeney decided to live a new way? “If you can imagine at that time, being a part of this whole high-tech community and venture community where your identity is an entrepreneur/venture CEO and people saying, ‘What are you talking about you are going to move to Europe?’ ‘What are you talking about you are going to start adventuring and start doing the summits and buy a bike? That is ridiculous.’” 

Find More Fear

If the common cliche is to get over our fears, why does Patrick Sweeney recommend that we find more fear? “We have to find more fear everyday. Scare ourselves everyday, and it doesn’t have to be jumping out of a plane. It can be getting up and making a toast at lunch because you are afraid of public speaking. It can be taking a cold shower because everyone says, ‘You can’t take a cold shower.’” Hear how you can jumpstart something good to happen in your life by working through fears during this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast with Patrick Sweeney. 

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