Cus D’Amato was an American boxing manager and who helped train Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, and José Torres—all of whom are members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
D’Amato was born in the Bronx in 1908 to a family of Italian immigrants. He took up boxing at a young age, before opening up his own gym at age 25. For over 60 years, D’Amato trained some champion after champion, learning what led to greatness in the process.
This week’s travel quote—“Fear is like fire. It can cook for you. It can heat your house. Or it can burn you down”—captures the role fear played in boxing success, according to D’Amato. He saw that it wasn’t physique or reflexes that separated champions from also-rans, but rather the ability to harness fear.
As D’Amato’s words illustrate, fear is a potent thing. Whether we’re afraid to fly, to be alone, or commit to a relationship, fear affects almost every decision we make.
On a most basic level, this is a primitive mechanism designed to keep us save, to alert us to potential threats. Fear keeps us from burning our hands on a hot stove, and from drowning in the ocean. But this system isn’t perfect. Advances in technology and society have transformed situations that would have been deadly thousands of years ago—and therefore still cause us to be afraid—into everyday occurrences. Here, fear has become a bully.
While traveling, we regularly find ourselves in circumstances that trigger this false fear reflex. Generations ago, if you found yourself surrounded by members of a different tribe, you’d probably be killed; today, foreigners are mostly ignored or greeted with a smile. Our ancestors would have freaked out if they found themselves 40,000 feet in the air; now that’s just called air transport.
Fortunately, our subconscious minds have an incredible ability to learn. Through regular exposure to misplaced fears, we can start to change how our minds and body react. Much like in a boxing match, well-placed jabs—AKA conscious efforts to seek out the things we’re afraid of—will weaken our inner bully and give us a jolt of confidence.
Fear certainly has a useful role in our lives. Most of the time it keeps us safe and healthy. But we must not let misplaced fear dictate the terms of our existence. This isn’t 200,000 BC, after all.
I publish a new travel quote ever week, right here. Do you have a particular one you'd like us to feature in the future? What do you think about this quotation? Let us know in the comments below!