“Nature loves courage.” – Terrence McKenna
Hey, how was your weekend?
I’m still geeking off of what happened on Saturday night, when Tom Aspinall knocked out the most dangerous dude in the UFC to win the heavyweight title.
Afterwards, Tom said:
“I’ve never been as scared in my life before a fight… If you ever get the chance to do something, and you’re scared to do it, you should definitely do it — because there’s a chance it will pay off.”
That’s an inspiring statement on it’s own, but then Tom went deeper:
“Fear is something I have a really good relationship with. It gives me a super power. The more scared I am, the better I fight.”
This is where it gets interesting, for me.
If we look at the three ways we can handle fear…
- Fight; move towards what we’re afraid of.
- Flight; run away from what we’re afraid of.
- Freeze; do nothing.
…It becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly that those who succeed choose option #1.
But here’s what’s less obvious:
Option #1 is actually the least scary.
A study done at Stanford showed that our brain releases dopamine (aka. the molecule of motivation) when we move towards what we fear, which paradoxically makes us less afraid of what we fear.
Before the fight, Tom looked so nervous that it made me nervous (I was literally standing up the entire fight because my heart was racing so fast).
And when the fight started, he moved hesitantly, almost awkwardly.
Then he got hit — hard.
In that instant, facing his most formidable opponent, with the highest stakes and the most severe consequences, Tom came alive.
He moved faster, his angles became sharper, his shots more crisp and decisive.
If you’ve ever heard someone say…
“There’s no courage without fear”
…This is the scientific reality of that statement:
Our brain literally doesn’t generate the chemicals for courage unless fear is present.
And with courage coursing through his system like adrenalin, Tom bit down on his mouthpiece, stepped forwards and landed a thunderous combination that knocked the most feared knockout artist in the UFC out cold.
At the highest levels of whatever game you’re playing — whether it’s athletics, business, relationships, or inner development — you can be certain:
Your relationship to fear will determine your fate.
When you’re most afraid, do you step forwards into that fear — or do you freeze?
Do you sit there talking yourself into talking to the pretty girl, or do you stand up and go talk to her?
Do you sit around daydreaming about starting a business, or do you open your laptop and get to work?
If you’re playing this game all-out, fear is guaranteed.
And we don’t overcome fear by waiting until we’re no longer afraid.
We overcome fear by doing the thing we’re afraid of.
Let the Tom Aspinall era begin.
P.S. If this doesn’t inspire you, you might need to check your pulse 🙂