This is going to be a very unconventional thought of the day, as it comes from Hollywood! You may be thinking that I have gone off the rails, but if you are serious about being the best you can be, you must remain humble and realize that you can learn from everyone as everyone is the superior to in some respect.
I know that the movie After Earth was not very highly acclaimed, however I loved it and a major reason why I loved it so much was because of the scene above. Just to give some background about the movie so the scene above makes sense, after humans left Earth they were attacked by alien creates called Ursa that hunted humans by sensing pheromones the human body secretes when scared (they literally smell fear). Will Smith is the first human to overcome his fear (therefore becoming essentially invisible to the Ursa) and helped lead the charge against them and prevent the extinction of the human race.
“I can’t believe this how I am going to die. I see my blood bubbling up mixing with the sunlight shinning through the water, and I think wow. That’s really pretty. Then everything slows down and I see its (Ursa) pincer through my shoulder and I decide I do not want it in there anymore. So I pull it out, and he (Ursa) lets me go. More than that I can tell it cannot find me, doesn’t even know where to look. It dawned on me: Fear is NOT real. The only place that fear can exists is our thoughts of the future. It is a product of the imagination causing us to fear things that do not at present or may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai (Jaden Smith). Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling us a story, and that day mine changed.”
I have bolded the sections of the passage that specifically resonate with me. Upon self-reflection I realized this connects so deeply because it mirrored the arc of dealing with my fears during my athletic career. I used to get insanely nervous before basketball games. It got to the point where playing was not even fun anymore because I was so scared of being exposed as a fraud and a terrible basketball. However, it got to a point where I just couldn’t deal with the negative emotions, and it forced my consciousness to just be here now, and I lost my self in the game. Everything slowed down, and it felt like something else took over and was using my body to perform. It was one of my best performances of my life so far.
It was a very fleeting experience at first but became more and more common. Now I embrace the pressure and fear because it allows me to have that laser sharp focus to transmute the fear into something amazing. Even though I have had some success beating fear during my athletic career, I have still been plagued by fear in many other facets of my life, which has caused me to drastically under perform.
This will usually occurs anytime I need to speak in front of a group of people. About a month ago, I entered the 3 minute thesis competition at UBC. Despite having a well written speech (based on comments from the audience) my overall presentation was terrible. Why did I suck? Because I got so worried and nervous about doing poorly, that I did poorly!
However, just a few days ago I re-deemed myself by knocking my final presentation for my qualitative research methodologies course out of the park. What was the difference? Was I not nervous or fearful this time? Absolutely NOT. But once I began speaking I was able to maintain a laser sharp focus and realize how beautiful the present moment is, and transmute my fearful energy to drive a wonderful presentation.
However, just because this conceptually makes sense does NOT mean that you will be able to embody these principles. But how would you go about doing that? You must always attempt things that frighten you! Overcoming fear is a skill that must be developed in a progressive and consistent manner. You will develop the courage once you need once you do the thing you fear the most (which is what happens at the end of After Earth). So go out and do something that scares you! Are you afraid to approach that professor/mentor to ask for a kick-ass internship? Are you afraid to approach that super cute girl you see all the time? Are you afraid to chase your dreams for fear of being ridiculed. As Nike so eloquently said: Just Do It!