I am of an age when the word “hack” rekindles memories of a bullying centre-half  with a grudge against the world kicking lumps out of my shins on the school football field. Back in the day “Fear Hack” might have been his party piece.

Instead Fear Hack is Hilary Gallo’s new book. I intended at this point to tell you a little about the book, but as I started to write something I realised I would not tell you something as well as Hilary would tell you. You definitely would not buy a song based only on hearing me sing it, and perhaps you would not buy the book if you heard me sing its praises!

I have known Hilary for a long time. He is kind, fascinating to talk to, generous with others, thoughtful and an adventurer. His adventures are sometimes in the real world (on boats, hills and skis) but also in the less tangible world of feelings, behaviours and relationships. He is also the best listener I have have ever worked with. Hilary has many gifts, but the one I am always drawn to is how he creates an intimacy in which words are heard. To be truly heard is often the first certain step to an answer that we can trust. To listen well is a gift of some significance to all of us who sometimes need our words to have a space that is not squashed in a tumble of other noises.

I say this now, because I think this is a book that requires us to listen to Hilary. Therefore it is important not to read the book like a flat stone skimming the surface to get to the other side, but in ways that respect the space that Hilary creates through some lovely story-telling and nestle within these words to truly listen.

I think it is a book like Hilary is in real life; it creates a space for us to reflect that never judges, and never lectures, but one which encourages our own thoughts about our fears. Hilary suggests ideas, he gently places positions we can contemplate for ourselves, and he asks us to consider the small steps we might want to take, so that we are heard in our real worlds.

Hilary’s core theme is his personal exploration of how fears are so often placed within an imposed and limiting construct that we are at least complicit in maintaining. His realisation of a far more personal and enabling construct does not make fears disappear, but puts our power, our influence and our ability to notice and adapt into a place that is more personal, more authentic, more generous and more fulfilling.

Books about overcoming fears, managing fears, fighting fears are plentiful, but this book is more personal, often autobiographical, always vulnerable, but also gentle. The book reveals a subtlety and seeks a balance that is not out of reach.

It is an outstretched hand and I am very glad I took it.

Paul Gilbert