Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?
Because it’s there.
George Mallory (1886 – 1924)
Those who know me may be surprised to hear that I was a shy child. I was often reluctant to talk, I didn’t much like sports, and I dreaded new things.
A lot has changed since then—not my nature, but my personality. Even though no one ever believes me, I am still shy at heart. The difference is that I have developed a commitment to scaring myself.
I don’t climb mountains, nor do I jump out of planes—not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things—but I do challenge myself to face things that scare me head-on, and the results have been quite liberating.
By our very nature, human beings are risk averse; our ancestors didn’t get rewarded (or live long) for approaching large animals with sharp teeth and claws. For the vast majority of our species time on earth, staying with the herd was the most reliable path to success.
But there have always been those anomalies among us who challenged conventional wisdom and ran head-first into things that truly scared them. Human history is replete with this tiny but critical portion of society; it includes brave people ranging from Christopher Columbus to the fire fighter down the street.
If you’re reading this post, then chances are that you live a life where the status quo is not rewarded well, and taking (calculated) risks is what drives reward.
So to you, fellow traveler, I encourage—nay, I implore you—scare yourself. Do it as often as you can; dare to dream, fight to realize your vision, and always play Devil’s Advocate—first and foremost to yourself.
I won’t lie…. It won’t work out all the time; indeed, it probably won’t work out much of the time, but the failures are what will teach us the lessons so critical in allowing us to value our success.
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