Too Often We are Scared

Don’t worry, this is not a blog about sports, nor am I promoting Nike products. Nope, this is a wake up call… mostly for myself. That’s the main reason I write posts like this. I figure if I write it down I’m more likely to just do it. Let’s talk for a moment about fear… our fears… and how that may effect our children.

If we are too scared to truly live our lives… how do you think our children will approach living theirs? I remember this ad when it came out, and as much as I sometimes rail against our consumer culture, you’ve got to hand it to those Mad Men at the ad agency. They wrote some damned good copy for this one.

Barry Sanders Nike Ad - Just Do It!

click to view larger copy

Too often we are scared.
Scared of what we might not be able to do.
Scared of what people might think if we tried.
We let our fears stand in the way of our hopes.
We say no when we want to say yes.
We sit quietly when we want to scream.
And we shout with the others,
when we should keep our mouths shut.
After all,
we do only go around once.
There's really no time to be afraid.
So stop.
Try something you've never tried.
Risk it.
Enter a triathlon.
Write a letter to the editor.
Demand a raise.
Call winners at the toughest court.
Throw away your television.
Bicycle across the United States.
Try bobsledding.
Try anything.
Speak out against the designated hitter.
Travel to a country where you don't speak the language.
Patent something.
Call her.
You have nothing to lose
and everything
everything to gain.

Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Scary thought, eh? Scary enough to make you do something about it? Read the following and think about whether you are setting the best possible example for your kids. And if not… well, as the ad says, “Just Do It!”

Leave a comment if you’d like, but more importantly… sing your song whatever it may be. If not for yourself, then for your kids. They see and absorb everything. Even if they are surly teens at this point, don’t underestimate the impact their observation of you still has on them. Print this out and tape it to your mirror.

I’m curious, if you don’t mind sharing, what is it you’ve always wanted to do, but keep putting off to “some day”? What scares you? What’s in your bucket list that perhaps you could do sooner rather than later? What would you like your kids to do that you haven’t done? And most of all… please, as the ad says, “Just Do It!”


3 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing.
    I took this to heart a while back. It’s good to have it remind me that the things I do still influence the boy.
    Best of luck

    1. Hey, Jack! Thank so much for stopping by. If anyone who’s reading this hasn’t check it out yet, def go read Jacks blog: Yeah, I post things like this periodically because it makes me face my own short comings. I’m certainly not better than anyone else and am constantly working on these things. I’ve got a little 2 year old girl watching everything I do. It’s a huge responsibility. And one I hope not to screw up.

  2. Very nice post, thanks for sharing! That’s how we should just live life.

    1. Thank you very much, but it’s easier to say than Just Do It, isn’t it. At least it is for me. But we must remember how our children watch us and absorb so much, especially when they are young.

  3. Very true. But what’s even more amazing to me are fears that THEY have taught me to overcome. I have never been one to try new things, largely out of fear of the unknown, looking stupid, whatever. My kids though want to try anything and everything and I see them have a great time doing it whether they end up liking it or not. I recently followed their cue and joined Crossfit and am SO glad I did. Man I love my kids. As we strive to set a good example for them, let’s also not forget what they have to offer us! We are better men for it.

    1. What’s even more amazing to me are fears that THEY have taught me to overcome.

      You make a really, really great point. There is SO much we can learn from our kids. I watch my daughter dancing her crazy two year old dance with no fear of what others might think. Love the joy on her little face.

      On an unrelated note, you mention you joined Crossfit. I’d love to hear more about your experience with that. I honestly don’t know much about it and would love to hear from someone who started it somewhat recently.

      1. There are several Crossfit “boxes” (i.e. gyms) in dfw. I have been going to for about a month now and love it. They are short, intense and practical workouts. Hard to explain so you’ll probably just have to experience it. All the boxes have free classes on Saturdays and there is even a Crossfit Kids at some like the one in Allen. WARNING: It is addictive!!!

        1. Hey… exercise that’s addictive is exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks so much for the info, Spence!

  4. There are many things I put of doing because I am scared and I don’t want my kids to do because I am afraid they will get hurt. I am trying to do better at getting over this so that they will be confident and do more things with their lives.

    1. I read recently about a whole movement to allow your kids to do what apparently you and I would think were somewhat risky or dangerous things. The idea that being too overprotective can really harm them. Of course all things within reason. I totally feel you, Jessica. Baby steps, right?

      Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them. ~Goethe

    • Perfecting Dad on at
    • Reply

    That’s it. Fear is the biggest limitation we have. Trouble is, most people don’t see it because fear is a huge paradox. They fear failure, yet fear is what holds them back from achievement. Fear guarantees failure most of the time. Taking a chance exposes you to opportunity for success. I wrote a post about how I tried to get my kid to overcome his fear of public speaking and, though he failed, it was so much more powerful for him to have tried than not. Some parents would have protected him, but I think I did the right thing by teaching him to stretch. Great post, thanks — this concept is one of my passions.

    1. I’m totally gong to go read your post. It sounds like you did the right thing. Just left a comment for Jessica right above you about how parents overprotect their kids, to the children’s detriment sometimes. On you first point… oddly some people (probably many people) are also afraid of success. Gotta run now. Will visit you later.

  5. OMG!!! Great minds do indeed think alike. I published a post just yesterday about “fear”. Since you have read it after my facebook msg to you, is there really anything else I can add here? What is interesting is that both of us were on the same wave length at the same time. While I published it yesterday, it has been in the works since Monday. Like I said…freakishly coincidental. Love the blog by the way…

    1. I KNOW… I couldn’t believe it when I stopped by your blog and saw the similarity between topics. I SWEAR I wrote this a couple of days ago and left it as a draft until lunch time today. Actually I didn’t go to your blog because of a FB message, I came from Mom Loop. The twisted webs we weave. LOL.

      1. No worries my dear friend. That thought never even crossed my mind. Happy Easter to you & yours. (((hugs)))

  6. I love this post and it makes me think of one of my favorite poems “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. It was really good to hear from you and I am very happy that you like the new design. Your new design looks wonderful and fits the “Daddy” theme perfectly. I hope you and your beautiful family are doing well.


    1. Hi, Maria. How cool to have so many people I love and respect drop by my blog at once. Thanks for the complements on my blog’s new “look”. Funny, I was thinking about Invictus last night. For those who don’t know it:


      Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
      I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

      In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
      Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

      Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
      And yet the menace of the years
      Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

      It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll.
      I am the master of my fate:
      I am the captain of my soul.

      ~William Ernest Henley

  7. I like the way you think. What do we really want to be teaching our children. We have to model the behavior we want them to exhibit. Another reason I am lucky to have children at an older age. I am less fearful now, and I think that will translate.

    1. Thanks, James!

      I’m an older dad (at least compared to many) myself and I am absolutely certain you’re right… I’m much better now than I would have been had I had kids when I was in my 20s. You hit the nail on the head. Modeling is the best (perhaps nearly only) way to teach our kids some life skills. I’ve been following you for a while. So happy to have you stop by again.

      Have a good evening!


  8. Oh, I love that quote.

    I have actually been working on my ‘song’ as of late. Writing.
    I made a decision last year that I wasn’t going to let being a mom hold me back from writing, that I still had it in me and I was going to do it.
    I had a short story published this year. So, I guess I will keep on singing.
    Great post, dude!

    1. Good for you, Theresa. And congratulations for “singing your song” and getting that story published. Life is too short to let fear stop us from pursuing our dreams. Keep it up!

  9. I have a list of things that I put off doing. A big one for me is really going after a career that I’m interested in once the kids go back to school. I’m afraid that by going after something that I enjoy I won’t be able to make the money… but hey I’ve been at home for 6 years and haven’t been making any money doing that… Why not start in a career that I love.

    1. Jenn, that makes great sense. In a way you are in a great position. You don’t need (though clearly it’d be nice) to make big money right away (or perhaps ever), and you can start out pursuing something you love. I’ve heard several phrases (probably on book covers) that have stuck with me. One says, Do what you love and the money will follow (and even if it doesn’t… hey you tried… and you enjoyed it). The other is similar, Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I wish you every happiness!

  10. I am horrible for this. I am anxious about almost everything LOL But the simple truth is that children need to take risks to grow (within reasonable limits), and taking risks is healthy!

    I want to take a quick moment to say that it’s awesome to see a Dad out and blogging!

    1. Thank you so much, Laura. I understand how you feel. I try not to be over protective, but I don’t see how I could go on if we lost our little one. But as you say, they need to stretch and grow and take risks. We just need to mitigate the risk of severe danger as much as possible.

  11. Hi Michael! I am here from MOM LOOP COMMENT FOLLOW. I actually touched on fear on my blog last night. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much fear was holding me back. I am now doing that which I fear most, opening up and being vulnerable through my blog. It has opened up a whole new world to me and I think I like this world that I am seeing.

    I loved this post and I look forward to reading more of them.

    1. It’s so nice to meet you, Melinda. I’ll drop by your blog in a few minutes. Writing, whether you share it or not, is a great outlet for stuff we otherwise may bottle up. Good for you! I’m in the process of writing a rather serious post that should be up early next week. Some of mine are silly and some mushy and some quite serious, but all from the dad’s perspective. Thanks for dropping by from Mom Loop. That’s a great community.

  12. I have done some “out there” things in the eyes of friends and family such as ring announcing a pro wrestling event and starting a small comic book shop. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world, for although neither panned out financially, neither broke the bank, either. We do a lot of things out of fear. We let fear control our lives. Many of my decisions concerning work and school have been solely based on fear.

    Fear can be a great motivator, but when it stops motivating and starts hindering is when you’ve got a problem.

    Just do it.

    1. Fear can be a great motivator, but when it stops motivating and starts hindering is when you’ve got a problem.

      Good point. The old, “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” could be modified to “almost kills me?”

  13. So happy to have you stop by again. On an unrelated note, you mention you joined Crossfit.

    1. Hi, Ruthie. Actually what I’ve done is joined a gym and hired a personal trainer who’s well versed in both Crossfit & Paleo. I’ve a lot of work to do, but so far so good. 🙂

  14. Just stumbled on your site looking for the text to that Nike Ad. I too was utterly moved by that ad many many years ago and taped it in an inspiration journey I have had for over 20 years. That WAS some damm good copy. Thanks for recognizing it.

    So what have I always wanted to do? I’m a musician but have only written a handful of originals. I have SOOOoooo much to say but can’t seem to get it out on paper or in music. And it is probably fear that is stopping me. Afraid the songs won’t be good enough, or I am not good enough. So I took the Thoreau quote you wrote deeply to heart. Dont want to go to the grave with these songs in me.

    Ironicially I am parenting a 17 year old (single Dad) and re-parenting a pretty wound kid in myself at the moment. Lots of healing to do. I loved your site title divorcednotbroken. Its a fine line. Just trying to figure out how to get back on my feet financially.

    Not sure if you’ll ever see this but all the power to you

    1. Hi, Eric. I read every comment, and try to respond when I can. Glad something I shared was of use or inspiration for a fellow dad. Don’t let fear stop you, Eric. When old people are interviewed and asked what they most regretted in their lives… it was rarely the things they did, and instead was almost always the things THEY DIDN’T DO, the things they didn’t try, the love or passion they didn’t express. They barely remembered all of those things that seemed important at the time… all the fears that never came to pass. Most of the things we worry about never actually happen, and looking back at those things that DID happen we wonder why we were so scared of them in the first place. Thanks for dropping by my humble little home on the web, Eric. I wish you every success in all areas of your life.

    • Show Me the Links #3 | Real Men, Real Dads on at

    […] Just do it! […]

    • “Most people don’t” via | Daniel Miller on at

    […] of note is a nike ad from this guy’s blog ”Too often we are scared” where he quotes this ad from Nike.  So good as […]

  1. […] Too Often We are Scared But Just Do It Anyway source […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.