Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Spiders, snakes, heights, and dark places are just some of the things that scare people. We all have things that we’re afraid of. No one lives without fear. For some, fear can be crippling. However, when handled properly, fear can be a good thing.
Fear is a constant. I have had fears throughout my life, just like any other person. When I was younger, I did not like speaking in front of others. Now, I enjoy it and look forward to the opportunity. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I used to fear rejection from peers, girls, and later from job opportunities. One thing I am grateful for is my parents pushing me to step out of my comfort zone while I was growing up. I was terrified to go to football, did not want to go at all. But my parents encouraged me to go for just one practice; all I had to do was go to one. Man I am glad I did. I never looked back and if I hadn’t gone, who knows where I would be right now. I see people in all walks of life succumb to fear every day. Most of all, I feel that people fear failure. I have learned to embrace failure. It’s the only thing that teaches and provides opportunity for growth. Fear is now a motivator for me and I am not scared to be who I am and do what I believe. Are you?
In my research for this week’s post, I came across interviews from the actor Will Smith. His interviews are very insightful and inspiring. I highly recommend his film, [amazon-product text=”The Pursuit of Happiness” type=”text”]B000N6U0E2[/amazon-product]. Will said the key to making it, for him, was to not let fear take over. For many people this is their downfall. The thought of failure takes over and does not allow them to take chances. Will Smith is a confident man, as are most successful people. He said, “I know who I am and what I believe. Find yours and be willing to die for it.” I think this is key. In order to succeed we must first know what we want. We have to be passionate about it. If we are not willing to die for it, why do it? If we are, then no fear will hold us back. Smith also said, “Don’t be afraid to die on a treadmill.” What he is saying here is that we should not fear hard work. Let’s be honest here, most people are lazy. What separates the great from the good is their work ethic. You might have more talent and ability, but you will not outwork me. This is a mantra that the successful have adopted and one I have as well. It’s this simple, you’re going to get off the treadmill first, or I’m going to die on it. If one has this attitude, watch out, because they are destined for greatness.
Who is the greatest athlete to ever play a team sport in your opinion? For me it’s [amazon-product text=”Michael Jordan” type=”text”]B004FM2ENA[/amazon-product]. Hands down. No contest. He was my idol growing up; I still love watching his highlights. If you want to be great, you have to study the greats. So I did some research on MJ for this post. Most people remember all of the game winning shots Jordan took. Did you know he missed over 9,000 shots in his career? He was trusted to take the game winning shot 26 times and missed. Jordan said, “Don’t be afraid to try. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t happen the way you envisioned it.” Many are afraid to try. They visualize negative results and start to get the feeling of failure and it takes over. People need to take a chance. Do not let the opportunity of failure prevent you from doing what you love to do or accomplish the dreams you have. As Jordan also said, “You miss every shot you don’t take.” If you go back and look at the great achievers in history will you find they all have two things in common. One, they failed numerous times. Two, they were not afraid to fail. How can you succeed if you don’t try? Failure toughens and sharpens the mind, so why should we fear it? Jordan channeled his fears and used them as motivation. By overcoming fear of failure, he was able to become the greatest basketball player of all time. At his retirement conference from the [amazon-product text=”Chicago Bulls” type=”text”]B0097RU2E6[/amazon-product], Jordan was asked what was tougher to master, the physical or mental part of the game. In short, he responded the mental. The mental allows the physical to go to new heights. He said, “Limits, like fears, are often illusions.” If we conquer our fears and try, just try, we will see that Jordan is right.
My all time favorite movie series is the [amazon-product text=”Rocky” type=”text”]B002M9WW30[/amazon-product] franchise. In Rocky V, Rocky is talking to his soon to be pupil, Tommy Gunn, in the basement. Rocky tells Tommy that his best friend is “Franky Fear.” He tells him this because fear keeps you sharp; it makes you want to survive. If you control it, you’re hot and unstoppable. If you don’t control your fear, Rocky says, “It will burn you and everything else around you up.” I used to have fear before every football game I played in. No matter who we were playing, if it was a team we would beat by 30 or it was another good team, I was afraid of losing. I know my teammates were too, but that’s what made us great. A few years ago my wife was going through the process of finding a new job. She found one she was very interested in and sent in her resume. After a couple of days of not hearing back, she went into the office and asked to speak to the owner. She ended up getting the job because she did not let the fear of hearing “No” overwhelm her. We channeled our fears and it made us focus on the process. Fear didn’t burn us up. We used it as motivation and it sharpened us. Fear made us want to survive. Before my football team played a game or when my wife makes a sales pitch, it all comes out. Now, as a coach, I get the same fears before a game and I use fear as motivation much the same I did as a player. Fear can be a great thing. If not, it will burn us up.
Another movie I find inspiring is [amazon-product text=”Coach Carter” type=”text”]B001GMH8T2[/amazon-product]. In one memorable scene, a troubled player recites quotes to his coach and thanks the coach for saving his life. He says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure.” I don’t think we truly realize how powerful we are, how great we can become. We are afraid of what success might bring. Many times added success brings added responsibility, which means more work. I honestly think people are fearful of taking on more work and responsibility. It’s easier to sit back and watch rather than be the one doing it. Personally, I’d rather be in the parade than on the street waving and watching. That’s a line I’ve used with my teams to get them to want to reach the next level.
The player from Coach Carter also said, “As we let our light shine, we unconscionably give other people permission to do the same.” How powerful is that thought? We control our attitudes and ultimately our destiny. If we allow ourselves to be free of fear, we also allow others around us that freedom. That is when we become powerful and inspirational.
A final line from the player says, “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” I could not agree more. Nike used to run an ad campaign that said, “Be like Mike.” This was in reference to Michael Jordan during the prime of his playing career. Our challenge this week is to “Be like Mike.” Don’t be afraid to try. If we conquer our fears, we liberate ourselves and those around us. Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Take care, have a great week, and be an RGP!