BKindred founder Penny Locaso believes opportunity lies in human connection. And the self-confessed ‘happiness hacker’ should know – since launching her business Locaso has made 1000s of them.
These moments of connection have led Locaso to some impressive places, delivering keynote addresses for global brands and spruiking on STEM at a field trip to NASA.
Yet life was not always an upward trajectory for Locaso. She explains whilst fear had always been a constant presence in her life, it wasn’t until she embraced the fear and did it anyway that her life began to change for the better.
She suggests fear has long been used by authority figures to control us. The promise of a carrot, the threat of a stick…
She tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) her own fears began at an early age in the confessional. She remembers with horror, the cold dark box and the ‘scary old bloke’ in a white gown. She recalls how fear was used to control the children at her Catholic primary school. The fear of penance, the fear of god, the fear of punishment.
“Fear has long been used by authority figures to control our thinking and behaviour – we should runaway rather than lean into possibility,” she says.
“But do you think retreating from fear helped the likes of Rosa Parkes, Nelson Mandela, Ellen DeGeneres?” she asks. “What if I told you fear is the greatest leader to have, to lead the life you always wanted.”
Locaso confesses she didn’t always ‘lean in to fear”.
“I spent 16 years working my butt off in pursuit of the dream: the big house, fancy car and fabulous family. Occasionally, I’d take my team yachting down the Swan River,” she chuckles.
“But there was a voice inside me that got louder and louder. ‘This is not your definition of success it is somebody else’s.
“So, I made a choice. I chose to step into the fear rather than retreat from it. I ignored the persistent peer voices that told me I had lost the plot and gone crazy. I relocated my family from Perth back to Melbourne, ended an 18-year relationship and started a purpose driven company.”
The happiness hacker says her life looks completely different now.
“I get to spend my time learning. Sharing being present and in-the-moment and hopefully if I am successful, I will leave the world a little better than when I arrived.”
Locaso is not suggesting you should do what she did – abandon your life entirely and start anew. Although she does laughingly explain that if you are going to make change in your life “do it all at once as it does condense the pain”. What she does suggest however is to ask yourself, what one change would you make tomorrow that you know would make your life happier if you knew fear didn’t exist?
“Now,” she says, “ask yourself what is it that holds you back?”
Unsurprisingly, Locaso believes the number one fear that is holding people back is not fear of failure but the fear of financial instability. Still, she advises that shouldn’t prevent you from action.
“We suffer more in our own imagination then we do in real life,”
“How many of those thoughts in your mind are ‘what if’ thoughts? Instead, search for risk and reward. 80 per cent of ‘what if ‘thoughts never come to fruition. So how does that determine how you process fear?”
There is an old adage ‘a worry shared is a worry halved’ and Locaso is certain the same can be said for fear.
“When we create a safe space for fear to be shared, we don’t judge one another. We normalise fear. When we talk about fears and put them on the table, we empathise and go into a problem-solving mode to help each other. We open the door for individuals to the space of opportunity and we help them realise greater happiness.
“So, when I say fear to you, I’m asking you, how would your life be different if you didn’t use fear as a handbrake but as an accelerator? Small changes over time build the courage and confidence to take bigger risks. And the more you take small risks on a daily basis the more likely you are to step into fear in the future.”
It’s a mantra Locaso now lives her life by on a daily basis.
“The breakthrough moments occur when we surrender the need for control and get comfortable in the discomfort. We need to make fear our future.”
Penny Locaso was a speaker at MYOB Partner Connect. The author was a guest of MYOB.