I admit it. More than one emotion has motivated me as an entrepreneur and real estate investor.
When I started from scratch right out of college with nothing but my wits and my energy, I was motivated by excitement and adventure.
I felt like a courageous mountain climber leaving base camp for the summit of Mt. Everest. The allure of the treacherous mountain peak beckoned and pulled me forward.
And as I moved up the mountain, I became motivated by the freedom and flexibility of financial independence. This positive appeal certainly drove me and gave me energy.
But, in the shadow of the excitement and the freedom was a more basic, rooted motivation. I wanted security. And my need for security was driven by fear.
Yep, I was deeply afraid when I began investing. And I still have fears today, although they’ve changed form.
When I started I was afraid of being able to support myself financially. When I had a family, this fear became even bigger.
Early on, I was afraid of taking the wrong life path and of making a mistake that I’d later regret. Now, I’m more afraid of missing out on experiences and moments with people. These are treasures that I’ll never be able to replace.
As I grew in business, I became afraid of the possible humiliation and frustration of failure. Interestingly, that possibility of failure never completely goes away. With each new venture and step forward, nothing is guaranteed.
But as I’ve since found out, I’m not the only one who has these fears. We are all are motivated by fear to some extent. Here are a few other common fears people have shared with me:
- What will happen if I lose my job?
What will happen if I don’t have enough saved for retirement?
- Am I good enough and smart enough?
- Am I too old to become an investor or entrepreneur? Did I start too late?
- What will the future bring in these changing, chaotic times?
- Am I going to make a huge mistake I’ll never recover from?
If you are stretching yourself and attempting worthwhile projects in life, these fears and more will be present. They’re unavoidable.
But there is also a hidden silver lining to fear if you look for it.
Avoid Fear or Use It?
I’ve found that fear can actually be a good thing. All of the fears can actually be helpful if they motivate you to action instead of paralyzing you.
I love the poem by Victor Hugo that speaks to the opposite of paralyzing fear:
Be like the bird
That pausing in flight
While on boughs too slight,
Feels them give way
Beneath her, and yet sings,
Knowing she hath wings.
A bird lands on a tree branch that’s too small for her weight. Yet this little bird continues to sing. Why?
Because she knows she has wings to fly!
I see entrepreneurship, investing, financial intelligence, and self-improvement as “wings” that allow us to fly when landing on life’s boughs that are too slight.
Our job isn’t to avoid the fear. Our job is to learn how to fly.
Sources of True Security
The sources of our fears are like the unstable branches beneath us:
- Sure, you could lose your job.
Yes, you may not have saved enough for retirement.
It’s true that you have a lot to learn.
It’s possible that you have started later than other people.
- No doubt the future is chaotic and unknown.
But remember, we DO have wings. And we can learn to use them.
To start, we can address our fears with the basic steps of financial security, like purchasing proper insurance, saving an emergency fund, paying off debt, building a retirement fund, and investing in real estate.
Practical steps like these are necessary. We hear about them regularly for good reason. They give us confidence and financial resiliency.
But, our wings are potentially much stronger than just these outside sources. Even with a big pile of money in the bank, fear could still paralyze us without something more.
An even deeper source of security comes from our minds, our energy, our drive, and our dreams.
Want true financial security? First, we need to inspire ourselves, educate ourselves, and dream bigger. Then we need to hustle!
Our own wings are what will ultimately save us, not our stock or real estate investments, not our job, and not the economy.
This is challenging, but it is also exciting! The ultimate choice of security comes back to you and to me.
The Real Choice For Security
So, our real choice when faced with inevitable fear is simply this:
Will we stay paralyzed and let the tree crash beneath us? Or will we cultivate our ability to fly?
That basic challenge has driven me as entrepreneur and investor for a long time. Business and investing are ultimately about personal growth. They are about taking responsibility for our future. And they’re about becoming our best selves.
I doubt fear ever completely leaves any of us. But then again, neither will our ability to overcome it.
Thank you for letting me help you strengthen your wings. It’s a privilege.