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Kill the Bear

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Kill the bear is a line from one of my favorite movies, The Edge. 

Billionaire Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins), and fashion photographer, Bob Green (Alec Baldwin), endure a harrowing quest for survival in the treacherous Alaskan wilderness.

What leads to kill the bear?

While staying at a remote backcountry lodge accessible only by seaplane, Morse and Green decide to fly upriver in search of a photogenic Indian grizzly hunter. Suddenly, a flock of birds slams head-on into their single-engine bush plane, blasting through the windshield and blinding the pilot.

The badly damaged plane careens violently out of control. Shearing off a pontoon, and just missing a mountaintop peak, the doomed plane finally plunges violently into an isolated lake. The hull quickly fills with icy cold water as the plane swirls into the depths.

The pilot is dead, but the three others narrowly survive, gasping their way to the surface. As the movie unfolds, surviving the horrific crash, near starvation, snowstorms and bitter cold become mere inconveniences compared to eluding a vicious and cunning, man-eating grizzly (brilliantly played by Bart the Bear).

If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t ruin it by revealing who dies, who lives, and the fate of ole’ Bart. But I will describe one brilliantly written, wonderfully acted, powerhouse scene.

What does kill the bear mean?

This scene is a compelling illustration of how fear can prevent us from achieving at our highest level, from becoming our best selves. This riveting sequence is not only an example of how to overcome fear, it also illustrates how to excel in the face of fear.

As you read the actors’ dialogue, remember these words:

Fear is your imagination. It’s really not real.

We’re halfway into the movie. The frigid weather, starvation, physical exhaustion and bear attacks have taken their toll. Green is a beaten man, resigned to the reality of starving to death or being eaten alive. He’s ready to give up, lie down and call it game over.

Morse resolutely turns and looks at Green with icy fire in his piercing blue eyes. He calmly says, “I’m going to kill the bear.”

“You’re going to WHAT?!” Screams Green in disgusted disbelief.

“I’m going to kill the bear,” Morse firmly responds. “Repeat after me,” he commands. “What one man can do another can do.”

Back and forth they go, repeating time and again with increasing amplitude and escalating force (and belief),“What one man can do another can do. I’m going to kill the bear.”

What we can learn from The Edge

What happens next? I won’t spoil the movie, but I will tell you that these two men are able to reprogram their minds and escape from their fear-induced paralysis, enabling them to reach a level of focus, intensity and determination few ever do.

This is more than simple courage. It’s better than that. It’s envisioning how to accomplish a terrifying endeavor few would even try, and believing to the core of your soul you can do it.

The power of fear

Fear is your imagination. It’s your mind becoming a theatre, with you on the stage. It’s visualization; a fast moving nightmarish story that unfolds in your head. You are the star in a play with an unfortunate end. It’s a mental shipwreck with you at the helm.

To excel in the face of fear you must mentally rewrite that script in your head. You, the central character win, and win BIG! Your speech is a hit. The badly needed investor writes a big check. You graduate #1 in your class. Whatever the endeavor, you KILL THE BEAR.

Rewriting the fear-induced script in your head is both the key to doing what you are afraid to do and the golden ticket to doing it magnificently.

Using fear to your advantage

In The Edge, billionaire Morse refuses to concede to the bear. He will not accept what appears to be an inevitable end with a grizzly as the victor.

Morse likely became a billionaire because he led his life like he approached killing the bear. He rewrote mental scripts of failure into life chapters of triumph. He overcame doubt and fear, tackling what others wouldn’t. His life was a tale of swapping hunter for prey. Instead of running from bears, he decided to kill the damn things.

Others my age may look back in remembrance rather than looking forward with aspiration. Not me. I am determined to make 2019 my greatest year of achievement, fearlessly killing bears, and improving the real estate profession I love.

Whatever your dream, whatever your great purpose, don’t let fear stand in your way in 2019. KILL THE BEAR!

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