Flinching from danger holds you back from success

Flinching from danger holds you back from success

Book summary of The Flinch by Julien Smith

Key ideas

  1. Act when you flinch, don’t stand down → whenever you don’t act, the flinch won, no matter the reason
  2. Whenever flinching ask aloud: What are you afraid of?
  3. If you don’t have faith, you believe that every potential threat could be the end of you
  4. Build up threat resistance in safe environments


  1. Cold shower for a week
  2. Speak to the next stranger you come across, if you find it easy, try the exercise again with someone else. If you fail observe the flinch
  3. If someone asks for a volunteer, volunteer yourself

Flinch checklist

  • Challenge yourself by things that hurt — willpower practice, hard exercise, meditation, endurance, cold showers → Goal: you can survive the pain
  • Remember things easy to forget: upgrade relationships, create un-birthdays, rekindle dormant friendships
  • Read more: thorough and in-depth analyses, material you disagree with, complex and fifficult stuff, stretch the limits of your understanding
  • Work with your hands — maintain bicycle or car, cook, garden
  • Turn mobile phone off for a few hours, do nothing when waiting for the bus, use a dumb phone on weekends
  • Find new friends who make you feel uncomfortable, either because they have done more than you or because they have done nothing that you have
  • Renegotiate your work. If you achieve X, then will your employer do Y? Ask beforehand and deliver, or if you can’t get permission, go for it anyway and ask for forgiveness. Create a new job title for yourself; then carve out the job.
  • Start dressing important, or as if you were twenty and the coolest person on Earth. What would you do differently? How would people treat you once you did?
  • Imagine that you have to leave a legacy, and everyone in the world will see the work you’ve done. Volunteer. Create something that lasts and that can exist outside of you, something that makes people wonder and gasp. Build a support structure for others. Devote some of your time or money to it.
  • Make something amazing, something that’s terrifying to you. Stay uncomfortable. Fight the flinch wherever you see it. Leave no stone unturned.

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