Have you ever seen 8 Mile, starring Eminem?
It’s a pretty badass movie loosely based off of Eminem’s own life, where he plays the character of Jimmy Smith (nickname B. Rabbit), and is a story of Rabbit trying to make a name for himself in the freestyle battle rap community in Detroit.
One of the reasons I love this movie is it so closely parallels the things we try to accomplish in our own careers and personal lives. I can’t tell you the number of conversations Martin and I have had with people who want to do something different and meaningful--say start a blog, promote their artwork, make a podcast, build a community around a cause they care about, etc--but they can’t get past the notion of “putting themselves out there”.
The fear of putting yourself out there is incredibly overrated. Want to know why?
Let me introduce you to a new theory I’ve developed called the Law of Diminishing Significance (LDS for short).
Let’s go back to 8 Mile.
The movie starts with B. Rabbit absolutely terrified to get on stage and battle rap in front of the crowd. Watch this video, look at all that prep work. He's nervous as hell. He legitimately pukes in the bathroom right before going up (must be mom's spaghetti).
When it comes to his turn, he freezes up. The crowd yells “choke!” and he gets booed off the stage.
In this moment, he’s in Stage 1 of LDS. Straight shitting himself because it’s something he’s never done before. You can see the pressure he feels. This is monumental.
Anytime you start something new, you will be scared because you have nothing to compare it to. You place all the significance in the world on it because you’ve never done it before. Acknowledge the fear, and realize that getting past the first one is the hardest part.
The movie progresses. He gets past the embarrassment, takes a few bumps in the process, dusts himself off, and goes back on stage for a tournament a few weeks later.
Notice how in round 1 of the tourney he straight up murders his opponent Lickity Split, but it takes him a solid 25 seconds to get himself going. And it’s a long and painful 25 seconds, where you can see it in his facial expressions and mannerisms that he’s working through the nerves. Listen to how weak he sounds when he says, “hey yo” before rapping.
At this point he’s in Stage 2 of LDS, Internal Panic, but he’s able to work through it because he’s already been on stage once and bombed, so he knows he at least has a minimum performance baseline that he can’t possibly go below.
After you’ve done it once, you have a minimum performance baseline. This becomes your basis for comparison, making the second time less nerve-wracking, and easier. You still place a good amount of significance on it, but in a “I just need to do better than the first time” way.
B. Rabbit advances to the next round of the tournament where he faces Lotto.
This time it takes him another 25 seconds to get going, but look at the difference in his facial expressions and mannerisms. That’s a calm and cool 25 seconds where you can see him sizing up his opponent, getting himself into a zone, ready to attack.
He’s in Stage 3 of LDS where he begins to chill out because he’s past bombing, and he’s already rocked the mic once, so the nerves of just being on stage are gone, and the nerves of actually spitting something legitimate are gone too. He’s upped his minimum performance baseline, and with no nerves he’s able to chill out and rap like a boss.
When you’ve done something twice before you have an increased minimum performance baseline, and instead of having to push through nerves, you focus that energy on chilling out so you can get in the zone. The significance lessens dramatically, and you get into a “I got this, I just need a minute” mode.
Then we hit the final battle of the movie.
The nerves are gone, he’s already chilled out, his minimum performance baseline is upped, and he’s in a pure flow state.
LOOK AT THAT FOCUS! He stares down Papa Doc with daggers in his eyes, and that smirk at 0:53 right before he hypes the crowd says, “Yeah, I’m about to DESTROY this.”
He enters Stage 4 of LDS, a flow state. And he’s in such a flow state that he doesn’t even care the beat cuts out and his time is up, he keeps going. He’s no longer confined by trying to fit a mold, impress, or ‘do what he’s supposed to’. Instead, he does what we wants to.
When you reach your flow state, you know you’re the shit, and you basically don’t even have to think anymore. You just do. Instead of having to get to a certain level, you’re the one telling other people to get on your level--similar to getting the star in Mario Kart. This “thing” that was once the scariest, most significant endeavor in the world is now 10x less significant because you know you can do it, do it well, and without having to think.
And it’s at that point when you lose yourself in the moment.
Seriously, think about the Law of Diminishing Significance and how it plays into the thing you keep saying you want to start, but you never do because you're scared of putting yourself out there. When you get past the first attempt, it only gets easier, and chances are your endeavor won’t involve choking on stage in front of 500 people like B. Rabbit.
In the comments below, hit me back with the thing you keep saying you want to start doing, but are scared to put yourself out there.
Take care and be awesome today,