How I turned the "stuff I've been through" into fuel for bravery and confidence.
So many people think I'm confident because I was a great athlete with medals and awards and records and quads.
Truth is, sports never made me more confident. Neither did my successes.
I am confident because I failed out of college.
I am confident because of my depression.
When the thing you fear the most becomes your reality.
I went to the final exam, wrote my name, and left. It was a perfect storm of nightmares.
Princeton told me to leave for a year to get my life together. At 19 years old, this seemed daunting.
I took a creative writing class at the University of Maryland. The teacher, a brilliant poet, told us to journal every day, as part of our grade.
I wrote about everything. I became a writer. I gained a habit, and along with it, perspective on my own life while being in my own life.
This was the year I became an entrepreneur. I liked being off the beaten path. I loved making things. I was interested in creating stuff from scratch that wasn't like the stuff that already existed.
Trial (bravery) and error (failure).
I tried a lot of things. And I failed at a lot of things.
When I returned to Princeton, I wanted to get the most out of my experience. I tried out for the dance team. Not a dancer. Cut.
I tried out for the cheerleading team. Not a flexible person. Cut.
I tried out to be on Oprah's reality show. Not chosen.
I tried out for the 2001 World Cup Team. And, I tried out for acting school in NYC.
In 2001, within the span of 2 weeks, I won a gold medal with my team in England, and appeared in my first off-off-off-off Broadway show in New York City.
I traveled the country to spread lacrosse through small clinics, which turned into a business serving thousands of players per year and working to grow the game in CA, WA, GA and FL.
For nearly 15 years, I watched teenagers pursue challenging goals with everything they had.
It was my front seat to bravery in action.
I discovered a formula for being scared, but doing it anyway.
The girls I coached never wavered on what they wanted. But, between middle school and high school, I could tell they were troubled by increasing self-doubt and insecurity.
To compensate, I built programming that focused our warm-demanding support through three main tenants of membership:
Honesty with self: Our kids did identity work so that they had access to their true selves when things got heated on the field, and when pressure rose during the recruiting process.
Practicing outside of the comfort zone: We demanded our players make everything harder for themselves. We got them excited about being an underdog and made the fight about equal parts stamina and strategy.
Comparison for inspiration. We wanted our players to be looking at their competition - not for evidence of their own deficiency, but for ideas of what was possible.
In 2012, everything changed.
First, I fell in love.
I rewrote our programming inspired by science and watched our players take their game and their goals to new levels.
I knew we were helping our players do the stuff that scared them.
But, I couldn't put my finger on what to call it.
We call it bravery.
In 2014, I sold my previous companies but continued to run it until 2016, at which point, I started Brave Enterprises.
With a dedicated focus on studying fear, and measuring it in the people who go through our programming, we have discovered so many interesting things like
... the Fear Inflection Point
... the correlation between bravery and confidence
.... the life cycle of bravery and confidence in girls to women, and boys to men.