325 Rhonda Britten: Fearless Living
What does it mean to live fearlessly? Do any of us even know? Because we are all driven by fear of some kind, whether we are aware of it or not. And all too often the fear isn’t even ours – its been passed down to us from family, ancestors, media – and what a better way to overcome it … I say … than to become an entrepreneur.
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who has dedicated her life to beating fear.
Rhonda Britten is an Emmy Award-winner, a guest on Oprah more times than I can count, and a Master Coach. She was TV’s first ever Life Coach on the hit NBC daytime series Starting Over, where she changed thousands of lives in some 600 episodes of reality television; she’s the author of four bestsellers including her seminal work “Fearless Living” and she’s the Founder of the Fearless Living Institute, home of the Fearless Living “Life Coach Certification Program,” considered the Ivy League of Life Coaching Training.
A master coach, TedX speaker, Huffington Post contributor, and TV’s first ever life coach on NBC’s Starting Over, Rhonda was named its “Most Valuable Player” by The New York Times and heralded as “America’s Favorite Life Coach,” by TV Guide. She brings the neuroscience of fear down to earth giving you a path out of “not being good enough” using the “Wheels” technology she developed that saved her own life.
Rhonda's passion for overcoming emotional fears was born of personal tragedy. She became an orphan at fourteen, when she was the only witness to her parents' murder-suicide. In overcoming the legacy of this terrifying life stopping experience, Rhonda developed the principles and resources that she would later use to heal herself and so many others. What she teaches … she has lived personally.
Rhonda’s personal story is one of triumph over a tragedy that few experience. After looking for relief in therapy and searching for answers in books, she found she still believed that no matter what she did or how hard she tried, she wasn’t able to overcome her past. It was when she woke up from her third failed suicide attempt that she knew she had to find the answer to her pain or she’d stay forever stuck in a spiral of depression, suicidal thoughts and addiction.
What she discovered is a pathway to freedom that cuts through false beliefs, negative thoughts and the silent, secret fears every human being carries. Her simple yet life-altering method is called Fearless Living. Her method is grounded in cognitive principles proven to change the neural pathways allowing people to experience a more fulfilled life. Her tools are grounded, practical and doable using everyday examples that create immediate positive change as well as provide a new way to communicate for more connected relationships.
Marianne Williamson says it best, quote “Rhonda Britten has risen from the ashes of genuine catastrophe. She has seen the deepest darkness, and found her way beyond it. Hers was not an easy path, by any means. What she has accomplished within herself, and now helps others to accomplish as well is nothing short of miraculous.”
Recipient of “Coach of the Year” and “Smart Women of the Year” awards, Rhonda’s Fearless Living Institute, one of the first Coaching Certification Schools in the world, is considered the Ivy League of Life Coaching Training.
Rhonda’s four books include her bestselling Fearless Living, which shares her groundbreaking work called the Wheel of Fear, Change Your Life in 30 Days, Fearless Loving and Do I Look Fat in This.
Her work is being used in therapists’ offices to improve communication and heal relationships, in the government counseling military vets, in hospitals supporting nurse-doctor-patient relationships and in schools working with students and faculty.
So are you ready for Rhonda Britten? I am. Let’s fly!
Melinda Wittstock: Rhonda, welcome to Wings.
Rhonda Britten: Thank you. I am so excited to be here. You do such amazing work and it's such an honor.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, well thank you. I am excited to speak to you too because we share a mission of sorts. I was laying on a banana leaf in the middle of the Amazon jungle when I thought, “Fear. That's the problem. That's the [crosstalk] problem.”
Rhonda Britten: Thank you, Melinda.
Melinda Wittstock: And you're taking on fear and we [crosstalk] all have it. I mean, and we have when we don't even know we have it.
Rhonda Britten: That's right. That is the key.
Melinda Wittstock: So, what was it that had you pick up on or zero into fear as being the root of all the kind of, I'm just going to say it, problems in the world?
Rhonda Britten: Well that's such a great question because it's got a couple folds, of course. But the first thing is… I tried everything else. You know what I mean?
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Rhonda Britten: I tried energy work. I tried shamanism. I tried spirituality. I tried praying. I tried meditating. And again, all those things are wonderful and they're lovely tools, but really, you know, no matter what book I read or what workshop I took, at the end of the day, lying in bed I still didn't feel good enough. And it's like, “Well, wait a minute. I'm working really hard. I'm reading, I'm studying, I'm taking notes. I'm, you know, just growing so much, went to therapy.” You know, et cetera, et cetera. And it really hit me like a ton of bricks and I got this real clear message from wherever that thing is called, divine source, and it was all about fear.
And when I heard the word fear, I started really recognizing how fear stops us and how fear tricks us. Because I have to tell you that most people I know don't walk around saying, “I'm afraid.” Or, “I'm scared.” I didn't either. I didn't walk around saying, “I'm afraid.” Or, “I'm scared.” I walked around saying, “I'm overwhelmed. I'm procrastinating. I'm a perfectionist. Right? I'm anxious. Right?” That's what I walked around saying.
And I think most people think that those things that they say are wrong with them, i.e., I'm anxious, I'm worried, I'm procrastinating. Why can't I ever get ahead? You know, all those things, I.E, in the generalization of, “I'm not good enough.” Those are all just symptoms of fear. And when I started seeing how the … it's almost like seeing the pattern and just seeing everything became crystal clear to me in a flash. And I have recognized that everybody is working on the wrong thing. Everybody is moving chairs on the Titanic and they're working really hard moving chairs on the Titanic, but they're still just moving chairs on the Titanic.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. And so how does one get in touch with what those fears actually are that are driving them? I mean, a lot of people have a theory, which I happen to share, that a lot of these things happen in our childhood, right?
Rhonda Britten: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Absolutely. So some of our fears come from our childhood, but also, they've done research now that some of the fears that we hold are actually coming through our DNA. So nothing had to happen to you for some of your fears to happen. And I have a fundamental philosophy on fear that, you know, we all have, you have, I have, everyone has, what I call a core fear and I call it the wheel of fear.
And this wheel of fear is actually at the, if you want to kind of think of it as the core of the earth, this is the foundation of the foundation, the seed of it all. And once you start understanding how that fear and my fear, my wheel of fear, starts with something called afraid to be seen or thought of as a loser, and you might be incompetent or you know or afraid of being ordinary, et cetera, et cetera. A fear of failure. Once you start seeing how every single decision you've ever made has been in service to that fear or service to what I call the wheel of freedom, I.E, your true nature. Once you start seeing how everything gets down to wheel of fear, wheel of freedom, then life becomes super easy and there's no more beating yourself up. There's no more … the shame melts away. You know, peace of mind can come through. Joy in a real true sense can come through.
So I believe, fundamentally, that we all have a core fear. And again, it may be from childhood and it may not be from childhood. So I don't sit there and work, you know, “Ah, where is it coming from?” That's really not the point. You know?
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Rhonda Britten: The point is identifying and going, “Okay, this is the way this works. Got it. Now I need to work it.”
Melinda Wittstock: I find that so many women in business have a fear not so much of failure, but more of a fear of success.
Rhonda Britten: Well let me just break that right now because there's really no such thing as fear of success. Fear of success is just a beautiful term to cover up what I call the fear of responsibility. So fear of success is, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to repeat. I'm afraid that I'm going to be asked to do more. I am afraid that I can't live up to blank, blank, blank and do it over again and keep it up. Right?
So when anyone says to me, “Fear of success.” I always say, “Really it's fear of responsibility.” And every single person I know that has fear of success is super responsible to AT&T and to their mortgage, but they are not necessarily committed. I mean, I shouldn't say the word committed. They're not really willing to step in and own their true power because they're afraid of that responsibility.
Melinda Wittstock: That's so interesting that you tie to responsibility because when I think of owning your true power, I think a lot of women have this thing where they're fearful of being kind of cast out of the tribe. You know what I mean?
Rhonda Britten: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: All that conditioning like, “Oh, if you're really strong and really successful, no man is going to kind of love you.” Or, “You're going to outshine your guy and he's not going to be interested anymore.” Or, “Your girlfriends won't like you.” That kind of thing.
Rhonda Britten: Yeah. Yeah. And that's one of the things that, you know, I always address is that there are going to be certain people in your life that leave, i.e., the fear junkies in your life and there are going to be other people that have your back, are the wings, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rhonda Britten: Have the wind beneath your wings. And you get to decide all those things and what's very difficult for most people is they don't know how to navigate that. They don't really know how to navigate those relationships. So the fear of losing that actually stops them from having the conversations they need, from growing the way they need to. It's just the fear of that loss, fear of that change, fear of being ignored, fear of I.E, rejection, et cetera.
So in reality, it's all about how do I have these fearless conversations? How do I start talking to people I love? And how do I show up? How am I on the edge of really owning my power, yet being driven by with compassion and innocence? Because power in and of itself, you know, we don't want to go into a male power. We want to own that compassionate, innocent, nurturing aspect of us and be powerful. So-
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. I call that authentic feminine power that feminine power is not an oxymoron.
Rhonda Britten: That's right. [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:17:12"].
Melinda Wittstock: Right? And I think it's such a great time right now because I see women really stepping into redefining that, taking and seizing on the best archetypal qualities of being feminine and leveraging the archetypal qualities of being in the archetypal masculine, but being able to find balance between those two within.
Rhonda Britten: Yeah. And thank God for the women before us who put on the suits and tried to live in a man's world and we learned from them that doesn't work. Right? So thank God that-
Melinda Wittstock: It didn't.
Rhonda Britten: Right? The pendulum had to swing, right? So the pendulum had to swing. And so our mothers stayed home and the next generation, the mother, they went into work and wore suits. And now we get the privilege and the honor to start melding those two things. To be like, “Oh, what is that thing that's called power?” Because I don't know about you, but I've had horrible role models for power my whole life.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, me too.
Rhonda Britten: You know, so you have to redefine it for yourself. Like you said, you have to kind of own what it is for you. And that again goes back to being authentic and really owning that essential nature that's truly yours and yours alone.
Melinda Wittstock: Well there are so many women whose only role models were men. I mean particularly in entrepreneurship and technology and finance and these certain fields. I mean, even going back, I go back a ways in media where I was often the only woman in the room. And so, there were no other female role models and the few that did exist back in the day were so wrapped up in their own I think fear-driven kind of scarcity mindset that they weren't exactly, you know, on board to be mentors or to help lift their sisters up, right?
Melinda Wittstock: So how much [crosstalk] we've changed.
Rhonda Britten: Right. They were just trying to keep their position.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly, which is entirely understandable. But it was interesting, you know, for someone like myself who lived so much of my life in my 20s and 30s, totally in my masculine. And it worked until it didn't.
Rhonda Britten: Yes. Yes. Yes. It's called burnout. Your [inaudible] go and you can't keep living the lie, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Rhonda Britten: And that's the grace and the goodness of fear, so you know, fear will have you do the things that don't serve you because fear only wants to keep you safe. Period, end of story. And how it keeps you safe is to repeat the past or to, again, follow those role models. And you know, I always say that freedom equals your ability to live in uncertainty. Right? To live in the unknown.
And you only can be free, you only can choose from a place of true trust and true freedom if you are absolutely okay living in the unknown and absolutely okay with living [inaudible] uncertainty. And the more certainty you need, the more fear will have you. The more certainty that you need before you make a decision, it'll be a decision based in fear.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. God, that truly is profound. I mean, it's exactly the reason why I say to people, “If you want therapy, become an entrepreneur.” Because every day is about uncertainty, right? [crosstalk] Right?
Rhonda Britten: I am with you. And entrepreneurship is a spiritual journey.
Melinda Wittstock: It is.
Rhonda Britten: You know? And making money or changing lives or again, whatever your “goal” is, that's just the game in which you're playing, but the real work is really truly becoming who you're meant to be. And being a female business owner has given me over two decades of, “Oh, who am I now? Who am I now? What matters to me now?” And again, refining myself and learning how to own my power in a whole new way and having difficult conversations. And showing up in the way that's truly mine.
And being willing to let go of relationships, being willing to redefine relationships. Et cetera, et cetera. So we have such an opportunity here.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh we surely do. And so, you have had, Rhonda, such an amazing career and you continue to do. I mean, you were named America's favorite life coach by TV Guide. You're an Emmy Award winner. You've been on Oprah, God knows more times than I can count. You've been a Coach of the Year recipient, a four time best-selling author. You know, you're a master life coach, even earlier than before coaching [crosstalk] became the oversaturated market that it is.
And along the way, I have to say you've made it look easy, but I know that it never actually is. What have been some of the toughest moments where you've had to overcome stuff as you were making it look easy?
Rhonda Britten: Well that just happened recently to me. One of the big ones is, you know, after I was on … I've been on three television shows and I was the first life coach on TV in England and that aired all over Europe and Australia, et cetera, Israel, et cetera. And that was awesome, but again, I was the first life coach. Came back to the Unites States after two seasons and starting over was starting the first, I.E, reality show to change peoples' lives on TV and that was Monday through Friday on NBC. And you know, I did that.
So now I'm into probably 550 episodes of television changing peoples' lives and when I got through with Starting Over, I had a bad personal breakup and that personal breakup and the ending of Starting Over basically, together, basically put me in a tailspin. And it wasn't a tailspin because the show ended or it wasn't a tailspin because of the boy, it was really the tailspin because both those things happened at the same time and I started wondering, going to a deeper level of, “What's really holding me back to go to the next level?” And what came up for me was my father. And I call this my dark night and the dark night, for those who maybe don't hear that term, dark night basically when the rug is pulled out from you and everything you think you were doesn't work for you anymore and everything you think you wanted isn't what you want anymore.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh yeah.
Rhonda Britten: And it's basically a redefining of yourself, except you have to go down before you get up and it's not an intellectual exercise. You cannot do it until intellectually. You're literally crawling on the ground, chewing glass, and going, “Okay, now what?” And that dark night was about three years long for me and I barely worked. I couldn't really work. I just did as minimal as I could to keep my business going and but I didn't try any new things or get in the public very often because I was going through my own transformation.
And so, that was a really a big time for me and when I was done with it, I actually started asking myself, and again, there's no done with it, but when I started asking myself, “What's next for me?” I had to really ask myself if I wanted to do this anymore. Do I want to do Fearless Living? Does Fearless Living exist? Is there something else for me? And you know, what is my next place?
And I had to be willing to kill Fearless Living in order to actually reclaim it. And I do this every year, by the way. I kill my business on a piece of paper and take everything apart, and then decide what to keep. You know, decide to what is the thing that I must keep that is the truth? And what can I get rid of that's not me? And so that was a huge moment for me and then I came back into the “marketplace”, came back into the world so to speak and looked around and the whole world had changed, right? Social media, Internet, those things weren't happening when I was on TV every day.
And I went through a very difficult time of feeling like a has been and that my time was over. You know like, “Rhonda, you had a good run. You know, you Oprah. Six hundred episodes of television, got an Emmy. Girl, maybe it's time for you to sit down and let somebody else take the wheel.” And I really went through that has been feeling and had to work through it and had to decide to come back in and decide to be a beginner all over again. And I think that's the real important point. As an entrepreneur, the longer you stay in business, the more of a beginner you must be. And that … right? Right? That was probably one of the most fearless things I've ever done in my life because I had to let go of Rhonda Britten getting recognized every day on the streets, right? And go, “Okay, now I'm starting over.” It's huge.
Melinda Wittstock: The art of letting go. I mean, we can't grow without letting go of things. I think even in terms of … just in pure business terms. If you think of what it takes to even scale a business. You know, what you've mastered in the start-up phase. We have to let go of, to let someone else do it. You know, at all these different phases, it's not like being on a trapeze where you have to kind of let go of the thing that you're holding onto and then you're at this moment when you're in the midair, hoping you catch the next thing, but there's tremendous uncertainty and it does take a lot of bravery.
Rhonda Britten: Absolutely. And you know, my dark night was all about facing my father and my father has been dead since I was 14 years old. And you know, all of my father's stuff came up, which of course has to do with power, et cetera, et cetera. And having to face him in a whole new way. And again, I've forgiven him. I've let go. I've done so much work on my father, but my father was front and center and I knew that it was me and my father. That you know, right now it's me and dad. And moving through that delicate, vulnerable, soft time has allowed my heart to soften, allow me to see with more innocence, myself in others. Allowed my compassion to come through more strong. Allowed me to become the woman I am today and you know, I had to chew glass and crawl on the ground for three years.
Melinda Wittstock: So and understandably because for those who don't know you, at age 14, you witnessed your parents' murder suicide.
Rhonda Britten: That's right. Yep.
Melinda Wittstock: Which I don't even, you know, just to imagine … gosh. What that was like for you as a 14 year old girl and then the impact and how that came with you in your life to the point where who you are now. Was the chewing of the glass through that dark night of the soul a little bit later in your life, was that really the time that you were ready to heal from that tragedy?
Rhonda Britten: Yeah, I think healing comes in layers. You know? And you know, the day … it was Father's Day and my father came over to take us to brunch and as we're … my mom and dad and myself are outside. My sisters are in the bathroom fighting it out. My dad did take out a gun and start screaming at my mother, “You made me do this.” And he fired once, then he pointed the gun at me and I thought for sure I'd be next. And my mother screamed, “No.” And then he realized she's still alive and shot her with that bullet intended for me. And then jumped to his knees and shot himself in the head right in front of me.
So that moment defined me for the next 20 years. And that day, I thought I forgave him. I did [inaudible] people ask me, “Oh, I forgave him. Yep, I forgave him.” And you know, I probably did at a level two. Right? If you want to think of 10 levels of forgiveness just for the sake of the conversation. You know, I probably did at a one or two, right? And I really thought I did. And then my first big breakup when I was 20, it was like my dad killing my mother all over again and I probably got to letting go and forgiveness to a six. And again, every time I'm at two, I think it's done and I'm at six, it's done, right?
And I think that's the fallacy. We think that we do all this heavy lifting and of this heart and mind and we think, “Oh, it's done.” But really what happens, what I've discovered is that you can only heal what you have access to in your being. And the more you grow, you're going to hit the edges of consciousness and ‘awakeness’ and awareness that weren't available to you before. And now you have a higher view and that higher view brings with it another layer of healing.
So you know, am I done? Are me and my dad done? Probably not. And do I think I'm done? Yep. Thought I was done when 20, too. Thought I was done when I was 14. But from 14 to 34, I became an alcoholic. I tried to kill myself three times. I had three DUIs. I went to jail. You know, my life was two. I was split in two. One, I was a straight A student and if you would've met me, I would've been like, “I'm fine. Nothing's wrong with me.” And then you know, put a drink in me and I'm getting DUIs and trying to kill myself.
So I had to allow myself that 20 year mark. [inaudible] it was the 20th anniversary of my parents' death. I said to myself, “They can't keep running my life.” Because they were unconsciously and consciously running my life, making decisions for me. And I knew that I had to take back my life. So on the 20th anniversary, I did a huge ceremony. It was all day long. My best friend witnessed for me. She sat behind me and just witnessed and I really said goodbye to my parents at a whole new level in a whole new way. And that allowed me to come forth and I started my business about six months after I did that ceremony. And I had no idea that that's what was going to come of it. I just wanted to let my parents go and allow me to come forward in my own life.
So, you know, it was huge and the dark night was feeling like that death all over again in a whole new way. And I guess for me personally, I'm always willing to go there, right? I'm just willing to go there. So, so be it if I have to crawl on glass. So be it. If chew on glass, so be it because I am here to live my destiny, to live my true essential nature, to become who I'm meant to be and I am willing to do what's necessary to do that. And sometimes it's really scary and sometimes I'm crying in bed and sometimes I'm freaking out and all of it is good.
Melinda Wittstock: Two things strike me. One is that in your hierarchy of these 10 levels, right? The universe is always testing us, kind of like, “Are you sure you're healed? Are you sure? Really? [crosstalk] Okay. Are you ready? Is everything going so well for you now that [crosstalk] so now, now you're stable enough we can take it to the next level.”
Rhonda Britten: [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:32:41"]. That's exactly … exactly. You said it so beautifully. It's so true. It's like a source, divine, God, whatever you want to call it is so kind and generous to us because it says, “Okay, yes. Now you have money in the bank. Now you can face this thing.” You know, “Now you have a best friend, now you can face this thing.” So the bigger our foundation, the more we've got to clear it up, clean it up, right? The more we can have more skills, the more that we see how inadequate even those skills are. Right? And it gives us permission to grow.
What I'm devoted to is growing and transforming and becoming who I'm meant to be and owning who I am. And so, I call forth that all the time. You know, I don't call forth, “Give me another million dollars.” Right? Again, that's nice, but that's not what I call forth. Everything in my life is devoted to one thing and one thing only, which is to … how do I face this fear? How do I move through this fear? And how do I embrace the fearlessness within me?
Melinda Wittstock: So I can see why you're such an inspiring life coach. Rhonda, I mean this is truly your calling. You think of all the pain in the world and you think of all the people who have such incredible talent, such unique ability and the chance to really contribute in a unique way and yet, aren't in touch with that within themselves or they have all the should’s, you know, from society telling them what they should be and not who they really are.
Melinda Wittstock: And it's such a profound calling to help people through that. Do you ever sort of think, “Oh my god, my work will never be done. I mean, how can I-”
Rhonda Britten: Yeah. Well I say that my job is to not have a job. Right? So, my job is to give you the skills and the tools, the awareness, the awakening, everything you need so that I don't have a job. Right? Because if I'm doing my job, then you actually learn how to self-coach. You actually learn how to do this. And again, I get that we all need that person once in a while or more than once in a while depending on where you are in life to reflect back. And I have the deep honor of doing that for people.
But yes, there is a lot of work left to do, Melinda. A lot of work left to do because there is fear everywhere. And if I could just say one thing to everybody in the world and have them get it in their heart and their soul and their cells and their body and know it no matter what was is is that there's nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong you. There is nothing wrong with you. It's just fear. It's just fear lying to you. Fear making up stories about you. Fear trying to keep you safe and keep you down. And that's fear trying to love you, by the way. Fear loves you. There's nothing wrong with fear. I don't like that people call monkey mind or all those things.
It's like, “No, it's just fear just trying to do its thing because it loves you.” And if you can get that, then you can shift your mindset and see the power and the gift inside of fear and really use that for your benefit to be fearless.
Melinda Wittstock: You know, it's interesting that you say that because a lot of people in the context of entrepreneurship say, “Greatness happens when you're outside your comfort zone.”
Rhonda Britten: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? Where you're really growing in those moments where you're feeling the fear and kind of doing it anyway.
Rhonda Britten: Yeah. And I call that stretch, risk, or die. And I teach people how to identify stretch, risk, and dies in their life and be able to take those steps. Right? Because we can say all day long, “Do it anyway.” Right? But I remember when that book came out [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:36:29"]. I mean, and I remember reading that book going, “Well, I can't do it anyway. That's nice, but I can't do that.” And that's, I think, the number one challenge for people is that they actually can't do it anyway.
Now, they know … Okay, do it. Just do it. But they literally can't. You know? And not that they can't truly, but it literally feels like they're going to die if they do it. So it literally feels like something really bad's going to happen. And so they're held back by that “fear”.
So, I know for myself, I couldn't do it anyway and without coming up with what I've done for myself, the wheel of fear and the wheel of freedom and the work that I've created, I couldn't have done it anyway either. But the way that I've created the work is that you now, it's not you against fear. It's not you fighting fear. It's not you doing it anyway. It's you doing it in a whole new paradigm. So it's not as scary. It's not as frightening. It's not, you know, you're freaking out in the middle of the night. Right?
Melinda Wittstock: Is one of the first steps really learning to love yourself?
Rhonda Britten: Well, that would be awesome. That would be awesome and I think even deciding to love yourself, again, is an opportunity … is this huge spiritual journey because learning to love yourself is going to take you facing regret, facing “bad decisions”, facing all the things that you're disappointed in yourself. You know, facing all of that and when you can see that those decisions or those thoughts were done through fear, now it takes the shame away from you. So then you can see your innocence more easily. You can see and give yourself compassion more easily.
So yes, loving yourself, absolutely. Do I want you to do that? Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: But it's a real process. I mean, I know from myself, because you look back at the could've, would've, should've’s. Right?
Rhonda Britten: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: And when you're feeling … say you look back at your life and you feel like, “Oh my god, I can't believe I didn't know that then.” And it's so funny the human mind because we look back at ourselves with the knowledge we have now in judgment of the decision we made then without that knowledge.
Rhonda Britten: That's correct.
Melinda Wittstock: It's crazy. I mean, really to think about it. You know, we do that all the time.
Rhonda Britten: Right. And back then, we were just trying to get our needs met, just like we're doing today. So you know, I think of my client Vicky who, I remember so vividly. It's like she was kind to me and said, “I don't know whether to go get my masters or whether to open my own business.” And I'm like, “Okay, so what's the big deal about making the decision?” She goes, “Well I can't waste another minute of time.” And that whole wasting time is fear-based.
So, we took away the wasting time to give her some space in order to make the true decision. But you know, I said to her, I said, “What are you so afraid of wasting time?” And she goes, “Well, I just wasted a lot of time in college. I went and traveled with my boyfriend who belonged to a band and I didn't finish school in four years. It took me seven and …” I said, “What need were you trying to get met?” And we talked about needs and she goes, “Well love.” And I go, “Yeah, you just didn't know how to get love met except through fear. You didn't know how to get love met except following your boyfriend around. And you have a need for love, just like I do and how can it get met from a fearless perspective rather than taking what you can get? Right?”
So, I think when we start understanding what our needs are and those needs drive our decisions and our decisions based on our awareness and our ability and our tool set and our skills, that decision is either driven by fear or freedom, just like every value, every belief system. It all can be used in service to fear or freedom and you get to decide what you serve, what master you serve. Fear or freedom.
Melinda Wittstock: Now, this is a generalization, but does fear show up very differently in men than in women? And if so, how?
Rhonda Britten: Well, I have worked … I get this question a lot, especially when I lived in Europe and worked in Europe. People are like, “Oh, are Europeans different than Americans?” And the answer is no. They might have different stories about it, but I have just discovered over and over again that when it really gets to the heart of fear, fear is fear is fear. And again, it's going to tell a different story maybe to a man than a woman. It's going to have different rationalizations, different excuses, different complaints perhaps.
But the heart of it is the same. You know, we all want love. We all want significance. We all want to influence. We all want to connect. We all want to belong. We all want the same things. And then fear does a number on us based on where we've come from, the story we've had, our parents, our upbringing, our history. And it creates an identity based on that. And that identity keeps us trapped. Fear keeps us trapped in that identity and we get to choose whether to break free or not. And breaking free is scarier than bejeebers.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness, yes. I mean it's really like peeling an onion. When you see the external, I don't know, symptoms. I guess I could call them symptoms. One might be perfectionism, which to me has always been fear dressed up pretty. You know? It starts in school making the little essay that you write when you're 10 look really pretty, right?
Rhonda Britten: [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:41:50"]. That's it. That's right.
Melinda Wittstock: [crosstalk] Right? Or … yeah. Or like my mom, this is a phenomenon. Cleaning the house before the housekeeper came.
Rhonda Britten: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? Or like the overwhelm. Where we try to do too many things all at once and then wonder why we're not getting anywhere. Where we literally put obstacles in front of us and these are the things that entrepreneurs absolutely have to overcome. I like that the Reid Hoffman who founded LinkedIn and PayPal before said, “If you're not embarrassed about your product or service when you launch, you've launched too late.”
Rhonda Britten: Yes. Yes. I love that.
Melinda Wittstock: And that pre-supposes, though that you cannot be a perfectionist. You just got to get it out there. You got to co-create with your customers. You got to be willing to accept the judgment of your customers, not taking it personally, but taking it as really amazing feedback that's going to make a better product or service, right?
Rhonda Britten: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: And the earlier you get that from them, the better. But that takes a lot of courage.
Rhonda Britten: Yes. Yes. I cannot agree more. And look at Craigslist. It still looks ugly.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. You know, it's just figure out … and so this is the art of life, really, is figuring out what value you provide. What were you meant to do? Why are you here right now at this particular time in an earth suit? To provide value for other people. What is that value you're providing? And this is very difficult sometimes to find out because we have so many choices. There's so many things that the world reflects back at us in terms of who we are. So try and narrow it down is pretty tough.
I imagine you work with a lot of your clients to figure out who they uniquely are and that's a process, right?
Rhonda Britten: It is a process. And it's about diving in, just like you said. Launching before you're ready, launching before it's pretty. It's the same thing. You got to get in there and get dirty. And I put people through an exercise called Love and Skills. And I say, “For the next month, 30 days, I want you to write down everything that you love.” And they come back after the first week and go, “I've got 30 things.” I go, “Yeah, that's nice, go and get some more.”
And the skills list, same thing. They got to do it for at least 30 days and I want at least 100 skills and I want at least 100 loves. And then when they start doing that, and again skills is really hard. They usually come up with job titles. I go, “No. Job title is not a skill. Break down your job into every skill you have.” And again, everybody stops at 20 thinking they have all their skills and I'm like, “That's nice. Keep doing it.” And then they get to 50 and I go, “That's nice. Keep going.”
And you got to come up with 100 skills and you got to come up with 100 loves. And what happens in that magical exercise and I can't even tell you why or how it happens, but what happens is people start building their confidence and their knowledge about what they're really good at, I.E, the skills. And they start really embracing what they love and what I've seen over and over and over, I cannot tell you how many times I've done this exercise that something emerges out of that love and skills exercise that is unique to them and it is the thing that is calling them.
And I mean, let's face it, Melinda, I started off wanting to be an actress, right? And I always say, “God tricked me.” God goes, “Oh, Rhonda's going to create the only method that [inaudible] today, a whole new proprietary method and but I can't tell her that when she's 20. She's going to freak out. So let me give her some … What skills is she going to need? Oh she's going to need to be able to speak in public. Oh, she's going to need to be able to be on TV because, oh by the way, she's going to have the first TV show.” And all these things. And so God goes, “Oh, I'm going to make her an actress so she learns all the skills and they're all based on her ego, but then I'm going to rip that dream away and help her move into the where she's really meant to be.”
So, I always say that every single solitary thing you do, and I was a waitress for 20 years, waitressing for 20 years taught me how to read a room. So, every single thing you've ever done until now is literally drawing you forth into who you're meant to be and what your next step is.
And so, ultimately do you know what you're going to do? No. I don't even know what ultimately I'm going to do. It's about the next three to five years. It's about what's your next step? And starting to embrace that. So if you're wondering, “Oh my god, am I in the right place?” Just do the loves and skill list. And start really embracing all the skills that you have and embracing the things you love because you can love anything and it's okay. And your loves and skill are going to point a path that's uniquely you.
Melinda Wittstock: I love how you said that. You know, I look at my 15 year old daughter who's almost 16 and she's blessed with having so many different talents, honestly. And yet, that's a challenge for her. It's intimidating for her because she thinks, “Oh my god, I've got to choose the right one.” [crosstalk] And I counsel her like, “No.” Right?
Rhonda Britten: Right, I always, “I would be a great real estate agent. I just don't want to be, but I'd be great at it.” You know? “I'd be great at selling Amway, but I'm not going to, right? I'd be great …” There's lots of things I could be great at, but that's not my calling. So sometimes you just got to kind of point a finger and just start going and then life will give you everything you need to start honing what you truly, your true next step is.
So, it's really a function of trusting, trusting the next step.
Melinda Wittstock: I love this. I mean, it reminds of the Steve Jobs quote about looking back on your life and seeing how all things connect, how the dots connect after the fact. So say in his case, you know, a love of technology, but also this love of calligraphy. And that was not clear at the time, why someone who's into computers or phone freaking back in the day was going to be into calligraphy. And then you see it, though, in Apple and what it became.
And so, I think all these things are so interesting and when you're old enough when you can see those patterns as I surely am, right? And you think, “Oh, that's why I was doing that because that's informing this and oh and that connects to this and …” Right?
Rhonda Britten: Exactly. So everything that you're doing, embrace it fully. You know, I say, one of my favorite quotes that I say is, “Invest in the life you have to get the life you want.” Investing in the life exactly as it is, waitressing. Me, go into work every day waitressing. I was the best damn waitress you ever saw. I invested in that life. I wasn't sitting there going, “I'm not meant to be a waitress. I've got to be something else.” You know? And again, not that I didn't have dreams, et cetera, but wherever I am, you got to be fully present and fully invest. And then things happen for you.
When you live, it's like God sitting up in heaven going, “Huh, I have this really cool thing I have to have somebody do on earth. Huh, hmm. Okay. [inaudible] choose the person who's half-assing it on 20% at work? No. I'm going to give it to somebody who's kicking ass, whatever job they have and fully investing.” They're alive. They're alive. And that aliveness attracts that next thing.
And so yeah, I always think of God going up there going, “Well okay. They're still debating whether to give their all. Well no, I'm not mm-mm (negative). No. I got to give it to somebody who's giving their all no matter what it is.” And then the next thing happens.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. And also someone who's in gratitude for what they have now.
Rhonda Britten: Absolutely. Opens your heart, opens your possibilities.
Melinda Wittstock: So Rhonda, I have a question for you about your daily practice. Do you have a daily kind of spiritual practice that you go through that you would be willing to share?
Rhonda Britten: Absolutely. So the first thing that I say to myself and the last thing that I say to myself every day is the same thing I've done for over, gosh, probably 30 years now is, “God, show me where I should go. Show me what I should do. Show me what I should say and to whom. Guide me in all that I do.” And I start my day saying that literally on my lips as I'm waking up and it's the last thing I say to myself as I go to bed because that is what I'm devoted to.
So I say that prayer and then I move into prayer and meditation for a certain period of time, depending on my day. Sometimes it's five minutes. Sometimes it's a half hour, et cetera. And then depending on if I'm working on a book or not, I might be doing morning pages. So right now I'm working on book number five and so I'm doing a lot of journaling and a lot of morning pages from The Artist's Way.
Melinda Wittstock: I [crosstalk] love that.
Rhonda Britten: One of my favorite books of all time. Every single human being needs to do that book. And so sometimes I'll do … I don't do morning pages all the time. It really depends on what I'm working on. And so when I'm writing, in the writing mode and working on my book, I definitely journal and write morning pages. And the other thing that I do is I … Mary Oliver took long walks and that's where she wrote her poetry and we lost her in this last little bit, and I find that that same true for me. So I take walks and when I'm walking, I always bring paper. I always bring my phone in case the paper runs out and pen runs out or something and I find myself walking, sitting, writing, walking, sitting, and writing, walking, standing, writing.
So, it's really allowing … I think for myself, I'll step back for a minute. I think for myself I thought I had to find all these productivity hacks and all this stuff. It's like, “Oh, these are the top 10 productivity tips that you want to be the [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:51:37"].” And again, not that those aren't interesting and wonderful, but research has actually shown that the more you kind of quest after productivity hacks, the better use of your time is actually to pay attention to what really serves you.
So, I start my day and end my day in very much the same way, in prayer and meditation. And I always, always, always end the day reading a spiritual book. Never a novel, never a self-help book, never a business book. I always end with what I'm truly devoted to, which is God.
Melinda Wittstock: How beautiful. It's like you're an instrument of something much bigger. Does it feel like that?
Rhonda Britten: I definitely think that I didn't come up with Fearless Living. I definitely didn't come with the wheel of fear and wheel of freedom. I definitely didn't make that stuff up. You know, it was gifted to me. And I think the difference between me getting gifted it versus somebody else getting gifted is that I … I think everybody get gifted. My friend Bonnie and I had this conversation. Bonnie heard a message from God too, but she just didn't listen, right? She thought she was crazy. She's like, “What?” Because I very distinctly, I'll never forget the day that I so clearly heard the answers to my questions and heard my next step and I was not happy about my next step because God gave me the answers to every question I ever asked and then he said basically, “Now you have to go share this.”
And I'm like, “No. I'm too screwed up. Nobody will listen.” And it took me many months for me to embrace the fact that if I was given a message, it's my job to spread it. And then he or she, whatever you want to call that thing called source, has … I'm very open at the top to listen and hear what is my next step. And sometimes it's really counter-intuitive and I do the same thing when I coach. When I'm coaching somebody, I'm coaching on two tracks. One, I'm coaching, I.E, in the sense of helping you get what you want to get, where you want to go. But on the other track is I'm really listening to that thing that your soul is telling me that you don't have the words or even the conscious awareness.
So I always say, “I'm speaking for your soul.” So I will say something and I don't know, you know, I trust what comes out of my mouth. So I will say something that feels completely off target and completely like the wrong thing to say. And the person always goes, “Oh my god. That's [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:54:08"].” And you know, I just have learned to trust that because seriously the things I say out of my mouth are like, “What are you going to say? Are you crazy?” And I go, “No, I guess I'm getting this message. I need to say it.”
And so I really believe that I am completely used and want to be used to be the channel for whatever is meant to move through me.
Melinda Wittstock: That's so beautiful. So, I want to start to wrap up by talking a little bit about the coaching industry because you're this expert coach. I mean, you're transforming lives and there are a lot of people out there who are coaches, but not all-
Rhonda Britten: Don't get me started [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:54:47"].
Melinda Wittstock: Not all coaches are equal and so, but you also do a great service to the world because you train the coaches.
Rhonda Britten: That's right. I certify coaches. [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:54:58"], but I'm fanatical about it.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, but its really necessary work. So, what are some of the things most coaches, in your experience, need to learn and learn most to be able to really be, let's just say, as good as you?
Rhonda Britten: I think the thing that where the heartbreak is for me is that I think most coach certification programs at the top, the leaders at the top, have actually not been trained properly, so they're doing the best they, so I appreciate that and respect that, but most coaching programs teach you questions and they teach you content. Okay? So they give you questions and they give you content.
So, if it's your health coach, business coach, whatever, they're giving you content to use in order coach. A system, so to speak. And that's lovely and wonderful, but that's really just beginning coaching. That's just basic skills. That's not really what coaching is. I'll never forget, side note, I'll never forget … I cannot tell you how often this happens, but I'll never forget the first time it happened, this coach came up to me. And I'm at a party and she seriously asks me, “How do you get your clients to do their homework?”
And that is what I find is missing in the coaching industry as a whole. Yes, I can assign you something. Yes, I can tell you, which is consulting, not coaching. Yes, I can have this content to share with you, but I actually don't know how to move you from feeling stuck, I.E, or you know, “being resistant” or, “giving up” to actually feeling empowered and powerful in a long-term way. I may say something motivational to you and you're like, “Yeah.” But long-term, real true transformational change.
So, I call it the art of coaching, the science and art of coaching. And science is really the content, if you want to think of it. But the art of coaching is seeing somebody's innocence and seeing somebody's innocence is a high-spiritual tool, high-spiritual skill. But that's how you have to walk into every coaching conversation is that, you know, again, I train my coaches. Yes, I give them content. Yes, I give them content Fearless Living, I show them how to do the wheel of fear, wheel of freedom. Yes. And yes, I give the questions. And yes, I give them templates. But, I am more devoted to the art of coaching and that's why I am literally the only coach certification program, that I know of, that has dedicated mentors that have been trained for over a year and are mastered certified Fearless Living coaches to even touch, to even talk to the PCs, program candidates. The coaches in training.
You've got to know your stuff before you can actually mentor somebody else. And most coaching programs don't have individual mentors because that's expensive. They just do group mentoring. Sorry, without supervision, without somebody listening to your sessions, without getting that feedback, you are not going to know how to coach to the next level. You're going to stay at that beginner mind. And the challenge that I see, Melinda, is that coaches then don't make money, beat themselves up, and think it's them. Right? They blame themselves. They go, “Oh, I should know. My coaching program told me I'd have everything. It must be me.” No, it's not you. You weren't trained properly and you didn't have supervision. So you don't have the confidence to really say, “I know what I'm doing. I really know what the heck I'm doing.”
So, that's just Rhonda Britten rant about-
Melinda Wittstock: Well it's got to get transformational outcomes. I see so many people signing up for online courses and just then just not doing them or not really doing … even if they're getting great information, there's something missing that's not motivating the person to do the work.
Rhonda Britten: Well that's what I always say. You know, if you do Fearless Living, every single course you've ever taken or purchased and didn't take, you will now be able to utilize because the fear is the thing that stops us from hearing, listening, activating, et cetera.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, interesting. [crosstalk] So that explains all the people out there who buy all the kinds of courses and then don't show up or don't actually do them.
Rhonda Britten: Yeah, yeah. And again, they're not sitting there going, “I'm afraid.” They're not saying it out loud, but their whole being, their physical sensations, their thoughts, their feelings, et cetera, are stopping them from taking the actions that they need and are necessary for them to embody the very thing that they want.
So, yeah, I always say if you do Fearless Living and understand how your fear works, if you understand your pattern and processing, the way fear works for you individually, then every single thing you've ever done now is workable and usable for you to use in your life.
Melinda Wittstock: I love this. Gosh, I could talk to you for hours, Rhonda. This is amazing, amazing, amazing. So inspiring. I want to make sure that you have a chance to tell everybody how they can work with you and find you and interact with you and get onto your programs. They sound amazing.
Rhonda Britten: Thank you. And go to fearlessliving.org, fearlessliving.org and I would love to gift everyone one of my classes called that Stretch, Risk or Die that we talked about earlier. Stretch, Risk or Die is basically going to put your to-do list on its ear and it's going to show you where you get stuck and why. And I actually going to share in this course a little bit about the wheel of fear, so you're going to understand fear better.
So if you want access to this gift, go to fearlessliving.org/risk, R-I-S-K. So, fearlessliving.org/R-I-S-K and you will then get access to my Stretch, Risk, and Die course and I'm knowing that you are … it's three short videos. It's got worksheets. It's got templates. It's got everything that you need in order to start turning that to-do list into a action oriented and fearless action plan.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it and so generous. Thank you so much.
Rhonda Britten: My pleasure.
Melinda Wittstock: Well Rhonda, I just want to thank you for a very inspiring interview on Wings of Inspired Business and thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Rhonda Britten: Well you know, my business is called Fearless Living Institute, so we call ourselves fly.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, how amazing.
Rhonda Britten: And inside our coaching program, we have big birds and little birds.
Melinda Wittstock: Awe, I love it. I love it.
Rhonda Britten: We're aligned, Melinda.
Melinda Wittstock: We are. Thank you again.
Rhonda Britten: Thank you.