Have you ever looked at someone with envy and thought that they are totally fearless? Would it come as a surprise to know that even the seemingly bravest people also need courage and have their fears too? In today’s episode, I speak with Esther Jacobs (www.estherjacobs.info), an international speaker and author who has been living a full-fledged location-independent lifestyle as a digital nomad, living and working in more than 100 countries. Esther is the perfect example of living life courageously and has a string of remarkable stories under her belt – she was one of the youngest person to be knighted by the Dutch Queen in her birth country, The Netherlands for raising millions for charities, and survived a reality TV show on a deserted island, are just a few to mention.
As such, when I spoke to Esther about courage, I was pleasantly surprised to discover her views on what courage meant to her, her own fears (yes, she still has them!) and how taking courageous steps has reaped endless rewards in her life.
Listen to this episode to learn Esther's view on:
- How courage is feeling afraid of something but still doing it anyway (2:19 min)
- How being out of your comfort zone often hones your ability to do courageous things (2:30 min)
- Her recent story of courage and her experience of doing something unfamiliar, new and uncomfortable (3:53 min)
- Why exploring a new, unfamiliar area allows you to grow and know yourself better (5:59 min)
- How stepping out of the comfort zone brings new discoveries, energies and excitement (6:25 min)
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7 August 2016
Interviewee : Esther Jacobs (EJ)
Interviewer : Jane Tan (JT)
JT : Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Stories of Courage. Once again, I am your host for today, my name is Jane Tan, I am the founder of janetan.net and I’m a life coach and trainer. Just to give everyone a background of this project, I started interviewing people with courageous stories to share, because I’ll like to showcase that it is possible for each and every one of us to live courageously and with no regrets, if we allow ourselves to take the first step towards what we’ve always wanted. And from listening to all these stories, it is a validation to ourselves that, hey, we are capable of doing that ourselves, if we allow ourselves to just go forward and make the first move. Today I’m incredibly honoured to have a very special guest with me on my show, her name is Esther Jacobs. Esther is an international speaker and author, also known as the “no excuses” lady! This lady has delivered more than 1000 keynotes all over the world to aspiring entrepreneurs and change makers to help them transform challenges into opportunities. Esther is also one of the youngest person in The Netherlands to be awarded a knighthood for a project she had done where she raised more than $25 million euros for charity. Beyond that, Esther is also no stranger to the Digital Nomad community, because she is one of the successful pioneering digital nomads in the world. I don’t even know where to stop listing the amount of achievements and successes that Esther has done because she just keeps breaking her own boundary! So when I first met Esther, she came across as this positive and fiery and passionate and almost fearless person that she is. So, when I decided to approach Esther for this interview, I was really curious to hear her definition of courage, and if there’s anything else in the world that actually scared her, and required courage from her to do. So without further ado, please let me introduce you to Esther.
EJ : Hi Jane, this is Esther. You asked me what courage means to me. I think courage in general is doing…no.. Courage in general, I think is being afraid of something and still doing it. So, getting out of your comfort zone, doing something that frightens you. And it means the same to me as it means to other people, it’s just that I’ve been outside of my comfort zone very often. So for example, travelling to a country that I don’t know with limited money, no plans, no friends, doesn’t scare me. I feel excitement, but it doesn’t take courage actually to do that, for me, while for some people it would and then they think I’m courageous for doing it but that’s not the way it works.
JT : Wow that’s really interesting to hear. So, you were saying that courage is feeling afraid of something but still going ahead to do it anyway because that is the way to break our own boundary. And if we’re able to break that boundary today, we’re able to conquer new heights and that is how we become more and more courageous. So like what you’ve mentioned, a lot of people look up to you as this courageous, fearless person, but you’ve mentioned that it’s not that way, because it’s really about taking all these small little steps, your personal conquests, to actually make you more and more fearless, and to do things that you are very proud of to mention today. Wow I like that a lot, because it resonates a lot with what I believe about courage being taking baby steps to getting where we want to eventually. So what about for you now? Like what is the one recent story of courage that you have conquered, something that you were really scared of but managed to do anyway?
EJ : Ermm, my recent story of courage is actually dancing Tango. I’m not a very physical person, I’m kind of a control freak, I’m always in my head, and then learning Tango means learning something new, usually I only do things that I’m good at, and I feel comfortable with. So now I have to get out of my comfort zone, I had to be a beginner at something, so, making mistakes, not knowing what to do. Tango is something that takes your from your head to your heart. It’s more feeling than thinking, and that’s new to me. And for some people that might be very… like the regular life and very familiar and it wouldn’t seem courageous at all, but for me, I needed a lot of courage to do this. And to start over again, every time I dance with a different partner – am I going to understand his signs, his leads? Am I going to make a mistake? Am I going to be able to relax? And just thinking about these things, prevent you from relaxing, so that’s a, that’s an interesting system.
JT : I really like what you’ve mentioned because coincidentally for me, Tango was a huge challenge for me too when I first started. It was really scary so I resonated with that. But I think it came as a very big surprise to a lot of people because they probably would have that, wow, to you, dancing a dance is probably really simple because it doesn’t look intimidating but I…I really thank you for sharing and being so honest, and being so vulnerable to share that, the point about connecting to your heart is something you don’t do very often and is the one thing that was making you feel very scared and afraid because it wasn’t something familiar to you. So, thanks for sharing your story, I really like it and I’m sure there must be something that came up for you, like dancing Tango because I understand that you’re still dancing it now, so, what did doing this recent courageous thing that you did, dancing Tango, made you feel? And why did you continue doing it despite your fears?
EJ : Every time I dance Tango, something happens inside of me. I go to an area inside of me that I don’t know yet. It’s like, the area of letting go, being instead of thinking, of not planning ahead, of being very intimate with somebody I don’t know, following instead of leading, so it’s a completely different side of me. And once I get over the barrier and I get into it and I let go, then I feel so great. It generates so much energy and happiness, and that’s the reason for doing it. And that’s the reason why so many people take courage to do something, why they get out of their comfort zone, because on the other side of the barrier, there is energy, there is excitement, there is adventure, there’s a thrill, there’s adrenalin, and that gives you the courage to take that step, whatever the step might be.
JT : Wow, I really like what you’ve shared because, you were saying that when we actually push ourselves to do the next courageous thing, we actually discover this new side of ourselves that we never…perhaps never even knew existed. And when we choose to let go and embrace the moment, we feel the absolute sense of freedom, the absolute sense of joy and even more energy…and that also generates more excitement. I think what we’re trying to say is, taking all these courageous steps make us feel alive, and it makes us discover more about ourselves. And I really like that because, I think from you sharing this story, it also makes other people realise that, hey, even the bravest person, or the person who seems the most courageous, has their own stories of courage to share! And everyone goes through the same process, and if someone can do it, well, you can do it too. So, it’s really not as intimidating as we think it is because once we have done it, we realise that, hmmm it wasn’t that scary after all! Thank you for sharing all that you have shared with me so far, it’s been really insightful and I really appreciate it. The last question I have for you before I end our podcast today is the one question I ask all my interviewees attending my show, why did you agree to come on my show? I mean, I took a courageous step and I sent you a message and I asked, “Hey Esther, would you like to come on my show?” because I didn’t know whether you will agree? And look what courage has paid off, yay! So, why did you choose to come on this show again?
EJ : I met you in Buenos Aires.. I was giving a talk to a group of entrepreneurs in a co-working space and there were two lovely ladies from Singapore, that was you and your friend. And we stayed in touch ever since. And I admire you for what you’re doing, travelling, living your own life, doing this podcast…I think you’re a very sweet and inspiring person, so I’m very excited to be on your show. I hope this contributes to, you know, your podcast and I hope readers, or, sorry, listeners will be inspired to look at what they feel and or if they feel hesitant about something, is it their intuition telling them not to do it, or is it just their sign of them stepping out of their comfort zone and they’re entering a whole new era of life, full of excitement and full of possibility.
JT : Thank you Esther, once again, for being on my show. I really appreciate it. And to all my listeners listening out there, the one important thing I’ll like to highlight is – courage is a journey, and nobody gets to a certain amount of achievements overnight by leaping… and jumping from mountain to mountain. It’s always about taking these small little steps, and if you’re willing to challenge yourself today and do something out of our current comfort zone, that is a step closer to the life we’ve always wanted to have. And that is courage in definition. So as usual before I end my podcast today, the one thing I’ll like to ask you listening in is, what is the one thing you know you can do that is different and makes you feel kind of uncomfortable today? Something that brings you out of your comfort zone and kinds of scares you? But you know that by making the step, you’re taking a step closer to living courageously and to a life without regrets. So this is Jane and Esther signing off, and till we talk again!
EJ : See you on the other side!