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How to Win

Leaving Fear Behind


“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” — Helen Keller.


Have you ever seen players who were afraid to win? Or afraid to lose? Or just plain afraid?

They can take a lesson from comedian Dave Chappelle.

Interviewed on Inside  the Actors Studio recently, Chappelle recalled a time when he experienced something that happens to every comedian — he bombed.

Supposedly the worst thing that can happen to a comedian, the booing instead proved to be a turning point for Chappelle. As the hostility rained down on him, he was able to step back and say to himself, “This isn’t that bad.”

What a liberating moment!

It turns out that the worst thing is really the best thing.

If you can imagine what the worst possible outcome is — and then realize that it isn’t that bad — you are free to give your best.

Some people are so concerned about the final score that they forget to compete. My friend, sports psychologist Dr. Rob Gilbert, says that it’s better to go all out and lose than to hold back and win, because if you hold back and win, you are training yourself to hold back.

Great competitors go all out all the time. Sometimes they win and sometimes they lose, but they always compete.

You can develop this attitude by thinking of the worst possible scenario, and realizing that it really isn’t that bad.

Update: Peak performance expert Gary Pritchard relays this quote:

“The basic difference between an ordinary person and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything a a challenge and an ordinary person takes everything as either a blessing or a curse.” — Unknown


One comment for “Leaving Fear Behind”

  1. Or as Oscar Wilde once said, “if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”

    Posted by Peter Hirsch | January 29, 2009, 12:53 pm

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