Work Ethic Eliminates Fear (Michael Jordan)

#23 Michael Jordan in a Chicago Bulls uniform
Chicago Bulls Legend, Michael Jordan

Fear is known to trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response. Fear can lead to aggressive action (fight), avoidance behaviors (flight), or no action at all (freeze). Today, I’ve transcribed a short clip in which NBA legend and business mogul Michael Jordan shares his view that work ethic eliminates fear. FYI, the clip begins at 0:42. [Update: The video was removed, but the transcript is accessible below.]


Interviewer: This whole thing about you practicing. If you talk to any of your teammates, they would say even if they saw something in the game, “You should have saw him on Thursday.” To practice with you was like they had a game instead of practice.

Jordan: When I got to the pros with Kevin Loughery, you know, when I was drafted #3. Kevin Loughery used to put me on the starting 5, we used to be killing the second 5, but he wanted to test me out. So let’s say we’re going to 8. It could be 5-1 or 5-2 against the second team. If we lose, you gotta run. He would switch me in the middle of the game to the second team. And I”m saying “Well, OK, you’re trying to prove a point. Boom. We’ll bounce back and win the game.” Those are all training tools and every day in practice was like that to me. It was a competition. So when the game comes, there’s nothing that I haven’t already practiced. It’s a routine. Whatever happens in the game now, OK, I’ve done this before.

Interviewer: Was fear of failure a motivator?

Jordan: I never feared about my skills because I put in the work. Work ethic eliminates fear. You know, so if you put forth the work, what are you fearing? You know what you’re capable of doing and what you’re not.

Interviewer: As a member of the Chicago Bulls, the last shot, game 6.

Jordan: Oh, Utah. . . I practice as if I’m playing in the game. So when the moment comes in the game it’s not new to me. That’s the beauty of the game of basketball. That’s the reason why you practice. That’s the effort. So when you get to that moment, you don’t have to think. Instinctively things happen.

Leave a Reply