DETROIT (JSC) — Good Friday morning, Everyone! As you can see, I’m checking in with you from the world’s greatest city, and a place I’m proud to call HOME! The city where JSC (and JS2) was born. The Motor City. I’m back home for Memorial Day weekend.
It’s time, once again, for the JSC Words of Wisdom, a.k.a. #JSCWOW. Yep. Even on the holiday weekend. This will drop every Friday morning at 6:00 am Eastern Time – and, yes, Detroit is in the Eastern Time Zone. Feel free to share this on your favorite social media outlet with the hashtag — #JSCWOW.
For this week’s Edition, we talk about the intersection of fear and greatness and how the former can either fuel or stunt the latter. Some of the world’s most successful people are driven not just by the will to win, but the fear of the almighty L.
People who have followed this blog for years know about my journey. Everyone has a story. Everyone has been through highs and lows in their lives. A little more than two years ago, I was unceremoniously fired from a lower-tier newspaper just five months after picking up my life and moving East from Michigan — where I’d spent the first 35 years of my life. Nothing does more damage to your ego than getting fired on April Fool’s Day. To say that Kobe’s words in the banner resonate with me is understating it. It’s honestly how I lived my life for the last 15 years. My attitude prior to that did a lot more harm than good. I ran from my insecurities or tried to mask them. That doesn’t work. It’s like the sports analogy of “playing not to lose.” When you do that, you’re eventually going to get what you don’t want. If you’re from Atlanta, you’re not going to like this next example.
When the Falcons got up 28-3 in the Super Bowl, I never once said that game was over. I came close, but didn’t call it. Atlanta needed one more score. But I could tell from their body language that they thought they had it sewn up and they started playing NOT TO LOSE. You know how that movie ended. New England slipped back in, found an opening, then pulled the comeback for the ages. The Patriots, for all the reprehensible things associated with them, have one admirable quality: unflappable confidence. They have an almost parasitic kind of confidence. One which feeds off of insecurities (both theirs and their detractors’), fears (of failure), and doubt (see: Super Bowl LI).
It’s not just an athlete thing. Some of the world’s most famous inventors, entrepreneurs, world leaders, and scholars have fed off of doubt and limitations — be it self-imposed or external. People are driven by everyday slights and fears. I mentioned for years that I was driven by fear of failure. I let my insecurities control me to the point where decisions I made in school, on jobs, and in business were driven more by fear, insecurities, and slights than by confidence in myself. That wasn’t the way to win. That was hustling backwards. That was Playing Not to Lose.
I do these posts every week to give people a kick in the ass heading into their weekend. As a way to recover from what is often a long, arduous slog to the finish line (this being a holiday week, means you are REALLY trying to get to Friday afternoon). I also do them to help turn one of my great insecurities into an asset. I’m always nervous talking to people — as ridiculous as that sounds, hear me out dammit! I was scared to death the first time I stepped in front of a class to speak when I was in broadcast school in 2003. I had endured years of countless taunts and jeers and jokes about my voice. I used to loathe public speaking because invariably some smarmy asshole would have something smart to say about my enunciation or grammar or “white sounding” voice.
So when I get in front of this room of strangers to read a commercial script, my hands were shaking and I was bracing myself to have to curse out whatever wise ass that would have something to say. I read the script and afterwards, there was just…silence. Finally, a couple of people piped in and asked if I was a professional. I was gobsmacked. I was used to cats clowning me and, for the first time, it went right instead of left. From that day forward, I embraced the insecurities in that I use it as the base to move forward. I embraced this “white sounding” — if there isn’t a more ignorant term than this, I haven’t seen it — voice of mine. I embraced my enunciation of words. I embraced my unorthodox sound and loud projection. Turn that perceived “negative” into a positive. The shit is only negative if you see it as such.
In closing, as Kobe said, you can embrace the insecurities and self-doubt and channel it into improving. It’s time for a little homework — Yes. I’m that guy who assigns homework over holidays. Fight Me!
Think about something that you doubt about yourself. What is your biggest fear? What’s your greatest insecurity? Now, instead of dwelling on whatever that is, think of ways to alleviate it. How can you change that? Is it something that even has to change? What is one insecurity or fear that you flipped into an asset?
Take stock in who you are and build accordingly. Because even through fear and doubt, your Success Is Certain!
Until Next Time, That’s The Way It Is. Friday, May 26, 2017.
Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare to Be Different, and G.O.M.A.B. Σ