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JC Smiley
JC Smiley

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"Do it Afraid", Tips to Overcome Fear while Learning to Code

The motto, “Do it Afraid”, came from the motivational speaker Danny Thompson and it means to not let fear own you. I asked my local community for advice on how to fight this crippling fear. The following is a summary of their amazing suggestions.

1. Understand that fear is natural and increasing exposure is the solution

Most humans are pre-wired with a fight or flight mechanism as a natural response to avoid danger. This natural response also applies to stressful situations like giving a talk, interviews, or other scary situations. The solution is to increase comfort levels through exposure. You can't wait till you are ready. You can't beat fear but you can diminish the fear by engaging it head on. You can't grow professionally in your career without experiencing fear or without being uncomfortable. Fear is natural and facing fear is how we create new opportunities.

2. Consider what will happen if you don’t do something

A great way to push yourself to do an action, even when afraid, is to think about the consequences of not doing it. In life, timing is everything. Sometimes our brain tricks us into thinking to wait for better timing because of fear. You have to consider if this is the right time to do something important and by not doing it will you forever lose an opportunity. By not doing an action, will you waste future time getting back to this opportunity. It’s almost always better to act now while you have the opportunity then to regret not taking a chance.

An example is developing a product that you believe has potential specifically to work at home people during this pandemic environment. Could no one buy/use it. Yes. But if you think the current business environment is perfect for your product than now is time. We hopefully will not get another pandemic therefore there is a time limit on this opportunity.

3. Take a leap of faith and learn from your mistakes

The best suggestion from the community was to follow the Nike company’s slogan “Just Do It”. You will never know enough. You will not know until it's done how well you did. It's impossible to gauge if you have enough skills or experience to solve whatever is causing the fear. All you can do is know you are at your best right now, to make the leap of faith, and be prepared to learn from your mistakes. Fear is conquered with grit and tears.

An example is applying for a tech job. Until you submit the resume/job application, go in for the interview, and start the job; you will never know if you are ready. But if you take the leap of faith, the worst that can happen is a lesson learned on what to do next. Maybe the resume needs to be tweaked or you have a new set of skills to research to be more competitive. “What doesn't kill you will make you stronger”. 99% of the time coding or tech related fears will not kill you but it will definitely teach you a lesson.

4. Do not face fear alone

It’s important to realize that you don’t have to be alone on your journey.The most powerful advice given was to surround ourselves with people who can help with our comfort levels in stressful times. The greatest athletes, business and community leaders, and smartest minds in the world are often surrounded by a team to support them. The old saying of “There is safety in numbers” also applies to having less fear when you have a support system. I can’t stress enough that there are entire communities begging to help you on your journey to learn to code. Here is a few places to find them::


We all have fear and the best way to "Do it Afraid" is to:

  1. Increase your comfort levels to what is feared through constant exposure.
  2. Use the consequences of not doing something as a motivation.
  3. Take a leap of faith and be prepared to learn from your mistakes.
  4. Do not face fear alone. Build a support group to help you succeed.


I want to shout out the incredible people who gave me advice: Lawrence Lockhart, Danny Thompson, Corey McCarty, Yoon Kwak, Ryan McGovern, Dennis Kennetz.

Code Connector is a non-profit that organized tech meetups to help people start their journey into tech. You can join our daily conversations like this one by clicking this link to join our Slack channel: Code Connector slack channel.


The contents of this blog post will be added to a free e-book called "Advice for Breaking into Tech". The book summarizes advice from 700 developers about learning how to code and looking for your first job in tech into an easy to read narrative.
Click for your free Download

Cover image by Filipe Dos Santos Mendes on UnSplash

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