Illusion of Fear


Three seconds left on the clock. It felt like walking through wet cement, my legs were heavy and my feet were burning from playing the last 40 minutes. But I didn’t care. We were down by 2. We needed to win that game to advance to semifinals. My coach called for a timeout to regroup and made a game plan for the last shot. I was the best shooter on the team (nothing but net!), so he made a play for me to get the ball and shoot it at the top of the key. The sound of the referee’s blown whistle broke our huddle. The game was back on. As we were walking back to the court, I told my friend, “Hey, I’m gonna pass it to you, get ready.” 

The ball was inbounded and I ran the play the way the coach wanted to. However, unlike my coach’s plan I passed the ball to my teammate. She wasn’t even open and the opposing player ended up stealing the ball. 

We lost. 

The worst part is that people thought I was “trusting my teammate” when in fact I wasn’t trusting myself. I was afraid that I’d airball it. I was afraid of the outcome even before I tried. I was afraid to fail.

Now, when the game is on the line, I’m like Kevin Durant demanding the ball from Draymond Green. I want the ball in my hands and I’ll shoot it without hesitation. 

How did I become someone who asked for the ball instead of passing it?

Learning from the GOAT

On this day in NBA Finals history: Jordan hits jumper over Russell to win  1998 title
Source: the Undefeated

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

You would think that Jordan and failure don’t belong in one sentence. In reality, Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots including 26 game winners and lost 300 games

Michael Jordan wasn’t afraid to take shots even though he might have missed it because he knew that 100% of the shots he didn’t take were the ones he wouldn’t make. 

The number of shots you take is a predictor and contributor to your success. Look at these statistics of Jordan’s career:

Michael Jordan career field goals
Attempt: 24,537
Made: 12,192

Michael Jordan could have reduced his misses by taking fewer shots, but no player has made it to the Hall of Fame by having fewer misses. If Jordan didn’t take the number of shots he did, that iconic jumper over the Utah Jazz wouldn’t have happened. 

Getting the Chance to Fail

I was missing out on the chance of winning when I didn’t take that last shot. By passing my teammate the ball , I was to avoid looking like a failure. By not taking that last shot, I didn’t have the chance to win. My fear of failure made me a failure. By not acting in the face of fear, I was who I didn’t want to be.

So instead of being afraid to fail, I’m more afraid when I don’t get the chance to fail. Even Michael Jordan needed to fail over and over again to succeed, so I need to at least match Jordan’s shot attempts to get the same amount of shots he made. And that means I will have more missed shots. If I don’t miss shots, then I won’t ever make the spectacular game-winning shots either. 


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