It was a cold and stormy Sunday night and as we were getting prepared for the week ahead it was tempting to sit back and watch the Sunday night football game that featured the New England Patriots take on the New York Jets. However, as we clicked through the channels, we couldn’t resist missing our weekly educational TV program – 60 minutes – and we are sure glad we caught it.
One of the features that evening was the life of Steven Spielberg – one of the best film director, screenwriter, and producer of all time; someone that has had a direct or indirect impact, through his movies, on millions of people for more than four decades.
As they uncovered and discussed his life growing up, the relationships he has had with his parents, his underlying motivation, his trials and tribulations over the years, and his ‘life lessons’ per say, the most prominent them of all was around facing one’s fears. Knowing it is Halloween; we thought it was a perfect discussion point around the ability to face your fears.
“He was scared of just about everything,” recalls Leah Adler, Spielberg’s mother. “When trees brushed against the house, he would head into my bed.”
From childhood anxieties to professional worries, Spielberg was no different than many of us – he was a living example of the success that is possible when you move beyond your fears, when you put away those nagging worries in your head and focus in on your goals & tasks at hand.
Even at an early age, Steven was forced to overcome his fear of standing out from the crowd and of being different. His years through high school he termed as ‘the worst time of my life’. His family had moved into an affluent San Francisco suburb, where he soon realized that he did not fit in from the rest of the crowd. He was ashamed of his Hebrew name and all things Jewish. Classmates would often make fun of his Judaism and was also a frequent victim of bullying after school. However, at some point he realized he could expose his passion and overcome many of these fears through his work. Through this he learned to cherish his religion, which would then fuel his perspective & the creation of his hits such as Schindler’s List and Band of Brothers in tribute to his ancestors.
Another example that Spielberg had to learn was his ability to conquer his fear of failure. After being rejected by the extremely prestigious film school at UCLA, upon which he had pinned his hopes and dreams, Spielberg was unsure what the future held in store for him. While he knew film was his passion, he began to questions his abilities and whether or not he would be able to succeed at it. Unwilling to give up on his dream, he enrolled in California State University and continued his path only to make an even riskier decision to drop out of school and pursue his passion on his own.
In order to succeed, Spielberg had to fight the urge to give up and continue believing in himself. But even Spielberg is not the picture of perfection that he might appear to be. To this day he is still afraid of the opening nights of his movies, where friends and film critics come to see an advanced screening. The thing that’s unique about him – he knows he has these fears and instead of worrying about them, he uses them to his advantage. “I still have pretty much the same fears I had growing up,” he said. “I’ve carried them with me right through my life until now. And I’m not sure I want to give those up because I think a lot of those insecurities are fuel for the stories that I tell.”
At the end of the day, just like Steven Spielberg we will naturally grow up to fear things in life. No different than we will naturally develop (and inherit) traits & skills that we are strong at and characteristics that we are weak at. However, it is how we convert these traits & fears into fueling our personal & professional passions and overcome the things that might motivate us the most!
It's Time to Face Your Fears....
and Have a Happy Halloween!