Nate Quarry on Fighting Back

Nate Quarry is 9-year veteran of mixed martial arts with 16 professional fights, 10 of them in the UFC. He is retired now, but his experience as a pugilist makes him a credible, knowledgeable source on the ethos of fighting and at the very least an interesting conversation.

In July, Quarry gave a speech for TED, a academically-themed conference database that circulates lectures with the tagline "ideas worth spreading." In the 18-minute talk, Quarry speaks on resilience and courage. Resilience, he says, is something he is very familiar with given his previous line of work.

“In my world that means being tough. Taking a beating and continuing to move forward.”

Courage, however, is harder for him to grasp.

"I wasn’t sure how to speak to that. By strict definition, courage is facing adversity without fear. And that’s not me. I can't speak to that at all.”

He goes on to describe how nervous and terrified he was before his fights. Many people see professional fighters as consummate tough guys, and it's easy to see why: the muscled physiques, the staunch confidence, the scars. But in the end, they're humans like the rest of us. They get scared too.

Quarry's self-deprecating, humorous talk compares the insecurities he felt before a match to the crossroads the average Joe or Jane faces every day: struggles with relationships, new business ventures, diet, or even public speaking. For Quarry's line of work, the possibility of humbling failure was worth the risk, because at least he could say he tried.

He hopes that people understand that courage doesn't have to involve wearing 4-ounce gloves and a mouthguard; it could be a pair of slacks, a janitor's uniform, or a cooking apron. Quarry is a fighter, and fighting can be polarizing, but his message is universal: if I can do it, you can do it too. He just conveys his message in a different way.

The video is below. It's worth watching.

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