People have occasionally told me that I’m fearless. They see the risks I take on a regular basis, in every aspect of my life, and they automatically assume that my body’s natural fear mechanism has been tampered with.
And it’s true, I take many risks in many different aspects of my life.
I have chosen a profession, day trading, that is probably one of the most difficult, scary, dangerous, and adrenaline filled professions this side of bull riding.
I felt fear when going into this profession.
I was a recent university graduate. My girlfriend lived in a different city. I had no money. I had a concrete job offer on the other side of the table.
And yet, I still chose to go into trading; a profession in which when hired I was told there was an 85% chance I would never make a dime (and in reality, I’d say only about 1% of traders ever earn a living.)
I was scared.
So why did I take this chance?
Because trading is something I had wanted to do since I first heard about it at 12. I knew that if I didn’t take this scary step, that I would regret it.
I don’t want to live with regrets.
I’ve also been asked how I overcome the fear of travelling to unknown, foreign, and sometimes dangerous places. Once again, people had said that I was fearless when I packed up everything right before my 30th birthday, in order to move to Colombia to learn Spanish.
Do you think that I wasn’t scared to go to a country where I knew none of the language, and knew only a couple people?
I was terrified.
I was leaving a well paying, secure corporate job in Calgary, a city where I was surrounded by people I love. I left all of my possessions other than my trusty touring bike, and only enough baggage that could be carried on the bike.
I arrived in Medellin on the eve of my 30th birthday.
A friend of a friend of a friend, who lives in Medellin, had agreed to pick me up at the airport.
I had no backup plan. If Juan hadn’t shown up, I would’ve been completely lost. I didn’t even have the address of my new apartment on me.
That was scary (and stupid.)
You think I didn’t sometimes question this decision when I was lonely? You don’t think at times, while walking the streets of what at one time was the world’s most dangerous city, I wasn’t scared?
Of course I was.
Then last Monday I did what some people may consider the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
I performed five minutes of my own, original stand up comedy in front of an entire room of strangers.
When I told people that I was planning on doing this, many people would react with a sense of awe. A conglomeration of what people said to me went something like this:
“You’re performing stand up comedy? In front of a crowd? Holy shit bro/buddy/couz/Brice that takes some serious cajones.”
And once again, people thought I was fearless.
To be completely honest, it was really scary. Not scarier than paragliding, bungee jumping, or some of my more hair-raising ski adventures, but one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.
The whole day I was nervous.
I had prepared my routine many times over the days leading up to Monday, February 3rd.
I timed myself.
I rewrote my script.
I consulted friends for input.
Then, on Monday night I showed up to take the stage.
I was pacing for a full 10 minutes before getting on stage.
Then, I went on stage and delivered what I had practiced many times over. I went up there, nervous, but also confident that I could do this.
And this is how I approach my scariest moments; I have the confidence in myself to attack these scary moments, learn from them, and grow into the person that I want to be.
If we never step out of our comfort zone, we never grow.
The reason I put myself so frequently into these admittedly scary situations, is that I want to grow. I want to be better tomorrow, than I am today; and because of this I am a better person today, than the person I was yesterday.
There are so many situations where we can learn and grow, however if we always take the comfortable, safe path we’ll never become the person that we envision and dream to be.
By taking risks, and putting yourself in uncomfortable places you grow.
Muscles only become bigger by putting them in situations of duress and challenge.
By confronting fear frequently enough, we (ironically) are less scared to put ourselves in scary situations. On top of this, the situations which we used to think of as scary, are either less so, or not scary at all.
This past Monday night I confronted fear.
I was scared.
I also, however, accomplished something that has been a dream of mine for a while.
By looking at life as an opportunity to take challenges, learn, and grow I have put myself in a mindset where the scariest thing for me to do is be stagnant.
Performing stand up was scary.
Not performing was scarier.