Jamie Foxx explains the insight that fuelled his highly successful career

Jamie foxxCarlo Allegri/GettyJamie Foxx poses with his Oscar for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ for ‘Ray’ at the 2005 Academy Awards.

Jamie Foxx is the rare kind of entertainer who can excel across many mediums.

He’s won an Academy Award and a Grammy and had sold-out stand-up comedy tours.

In the latest episode of author and investor Tim Ferriss’ podcast, Foxx told Ferriss that he only became successful after adopting a certain worldview, which he’s passed on to his kids.

He reminds his children of his advice with a simple question and answer, he said: “What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing.

To help illustrate his point, Foxx said he could interrupt the interview by either yelling wildly or curling up in a ball and his life would continue. “Meaning either you do or you don’t, but there’s no penalty,” he said. “There’s no reward. It’s just be yourself… People are nervous for no reason, because no one’s going to come out and slap you or beat you up.”

Foxx said he realised this the moment he decided to try doing comedy on an open-mic night when he was fresh out of college. He said that he could have let the fear of being ridiculed on stage prevent him from ever trying his shot at stand-up, but when he thought about the root of his fear — the idea of a room full of people thinking he wasn’t funny — he decided that wasn’t something worth being scared of.

And though he spent his undergraduate years studying classical music, it was his success as a comedian that catalyzed his career in the entertainment industry.

This disregard of potential embarrassment allowed him as a rising comedic actor in the ’90s to try getting in touch with Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs repeatedly until Combs decided to let him into one of his parties, which eventually led to Foxx’s building a network of music industry power players that helped Foxx realise his dream of having hit records. Later, it gave him the freedom to take on the most ambitious role of his career thus far, portraying Ray Charles in the 2004 biopic that won him an Oscar for Best Actor.

“So it’s like, when people say, ‘I’m so nervous’ — what are you nervous about?” Foxx told Ferriss. “Because all of it is in our heads. When we talk about fear or lack of being aggressive, it’s in your head.”

You can listen to Foxx’s full two-hour interview with Ferriss on Ferriss’ website or iTunes.

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