Refuse To Be Afraid

Tim Wrightman, a former All-American UCLA football player, tells a story about how, as a rookie lineman in the National Football League, he was up against the legendary pass rusher Lawrence Taylor. Taylor was not only physically powerful and uncommonly quick but a master at verbal intimidation.

Looking young Tim in the eye, he said, “Sonny, get ready. I’m going to the left and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Wrightman coolly responded, “Sir, is that your left or mine?”

The question froze Taylor long enough to allow Wrightman to throw a perfect block on him.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish if we refuse to be afraid. Fear – whether it’s of pain, failure, or rejection – is a toxic emotion that creates monsters in our mind that consume self-confidence and intimidate us from doing our best or sometimes even trying at all.

As a law professor, I saw scores of capable students fail the bar exam, not because they didn’t know enough but because their anxiety hindered their ability to remember or coherently express what they did know.

For most law graduates, passing the bar exam should be no more difficult than walking across a board 20 feet long and two feet wide. The trouble is, they don’t walk normally because they’re intimidated by the illusion that the board is suspended 100 feet in the air and that getting across is a life-or-death matter. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Embarrassment, inconvenience, and expense – but none of these is fatal.

Perspective is an antidote to fear. Most things you fear will never happen, and even if they do, you can handle it.

Michael Josephson

www.charactercounts.org