Didn’t Take the Risk When I had the Chance. What Holds us Back?

Anthony Bailey- Personal Finance
Bitcoin or Bust

One of the worst feelings to live with is regret. Far too often, we hear the elderly say, “If I could go back in time, I would take more risks.” Why is this? Maybe they feel their life just passed them by and they didn’t truly get to enjoy it. Whatever the case may be, it seems that the message to the next generation is pretty clear: take more risks. You never know, that chance you take could change your life for the better. There are so many different categories to venture into when talking about risks. Traveling, adventuring, and starting a business are popular examples of risk taking. With that being said, I feel everyone has had some type of situation where they missed out on a life changing opportunity. I have had plenty of opportunities that I definitely regret not taking, but one particular situation hurts more than others.

The opportunity that specifically haunts me to this day is not investing in Bitcoin (BTC.) Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that was founded in 2009. If I had invested in BTC, my life would be extremely different today and to be honest I probably wouldn’t be writing this article. I learned about BTC in 2010 when I was a Junior in high school. My brother’s childhood best friend is a computer wiz and at the time he was telling me about this project he had been working on over the past few years. He was one of the software engineers and Co-founder of Coinsetter, which operates as a Bitcoin trading platform. He told my brother and I that BTC had potential to be the next big breakthrough in the technology industry, and could potentially change the entire world’s economic foundation. 

Now, while BTC hasn’t completely changed the world, it has impacted the financial industry, along with changing a lot of lives. BTC was worth about $0.12 in USD when I was first introduced to it. The cryptocurrency had a slow climb in price from 2009 (less than $0.01) to January 2017 (high of $800.) The coin continued to climb, and in October of 2017, the price eventually skyrocketed to over $19,000! Crazy, right? Well 100 BTC would have cost me $12 at the time and if I sold at its all time high, I would have earned over $1.9M. Yup, I knew about BTC at it’s genesis and had the opportunity to buy it when it was worth PENNIES, but guess what? I missed out. Obviously, I wish I could go back in time and take that risk, however I can’t. Looking at it now, there were some things that held me back from investing at that time. 

Looking back on the opportunity, there were a couple of reasons which held me back from taking that risk. The first reason is that I didn’t really know exactly what BTC was. It’s still a foreign term to many people and even to this day I don’t completely understand it. I obviously recognize now that it has value. The terms cryptocurrency and blockchain are a bit more recognizable in today’s world, however for a junior in high school in 2010 it was like speaking a foreign language. I feel that if I had spent some more time researching it and asking my brother’s friend more questions that I would have been more likely to invest some of my money. This brings me to my second point. I didn’t have a lot of money in high school. 

In high school I played three sports which didn’t leave me much time to get a job. I had to rely on my side hustles to earn some scratch. I worked at an apple orchard on the weekends and refereed basketball in my spare time. This earned me just enough money to pay for my car insurance, gas, and cell phone each month. I only had a little bit of savings in my bank account and honestly I was a pretty lazy kid who wasn’t seeking the extra money. I made every excuse not to work. It was enough to get by and keep me happy, but of course if I had the knowledge I had now, I would have been hustling like crazy to buy some BTC! 

The second reason why I didn’t invest in BTC was because I was scared to lose my money. Investing is an intimidating word to a lot of people, especially when you hear stories where people invest in stocks and real estate and lose years of hard earned income, so when it came to investing in a new unestablished commodity it was easy for me to not be that interested. I now realize how silly I was. Even if I did lose my money, it was only $12 (LOL.) I learned from this situation though. Meek Mill once said, “Scared money don’t make no money,” now isn’t that the truth. The only way to create wealth is to invest the money you already have. A key lesson here- you can’t be afraid to invest in your future. Fear is why so many people miss out on great opportunities. You have to be confident that your risks will work out and if they don’t, you’ll have the opportunity to bounce back. In the world of investments it hurts to be a pessimist. 

The final reason why I didn’t take the chance is because I really didn’t care enough. Let’s be real, I was a 16 year old high school kid. The last thing on my mind was investing in BTC. I was more interested in sports, girls, and hanging out with friends. The lack of funds, knowledge, and interest in Bitcoin really kept me from indulging in it. Along with this, I was too scared to make a move. If I could go back in time I would invest in Bitcoin in seconds. Yes, I missed out on the Bitcoin opportunity, but I did learn some valuable lessons which I apply to my life today. 

I learned that if you’re trying to create wealth, nothing good comes from playing it safe. I didn’t take a chance and obviously I didn’t receive any reward. You will never receive a return without making and investment, and I learned that the hard way. This has led me to take more risks in life, including investing in crypto and the stock market. Along with this, I learned that fear can manipulate your life. Fear will either propel you, or it will paralyze you. Too many people miss out on life changing opportunities due to fear. Don’t let the fear of failing control you; make sure you control fear. If you fail, you fail. Learn from it and move on. Lastly, I realize that taking risks is life changing. The person who took the chance on BTC in 2010 made out great. Nothing good comes from inaction. If I can provide one piece of advice based on my missed BTC opportunity it’s this: take more risks.

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Jonesy “The Podfather” Culture
Life: The Ultimate Game of Chance

In every moment of your life– danger and prosperity hover in the shadows of almost every significant choice you are confronted with. The comfort of the present can be the enemy of progress. As I grow older, I think back to how much I’ve missed simply because of fear. 

Seeing missed opportunities become gold mines is one of the hardest pills I’ve had to swallow. Conversely, there are also some bullets I dodged due to good old fashioned caution. But those moments don’t matter when you see the stock that explodes after you failed to make a move. Or a real estate venture garners a triple return. And you didn’t have the guts to pull the trigger. Allow me to give you a little background on one particular debacle; I had stock in Netflix in 2007. Yet, somehow a broker convinced me, against my better judgment I might add, to drop it about seven months before the stock went crazy. I’m not going to the front–it makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. To this day, I cannot watch a NETFLIX movie without feeling the slight taste of vomit rising in my throat. 

Writer Edwin S Shneidman once said, “Hindsight is not only clearer than perception in the moment but unfair for those who actually lived through the moment.” Failure or missed opportunity are gifts. In that it gives us the ability to analyze situations and apply the knowledge toward future wins. Failure is often the roadmap to success, if and only if you remain vigilant. So, you may ask what keeps us from making a move? Even when it’s the slightest chance or possibility of being a life-changing blessing. 

The simple answer. Fear. 

Robin Sharma once said, “the fears we do not face become our limits.” I’ve found what I believe is the most effective avenue to eliminating fear. And that is to replace fear with preparation and data. Think about every time you missed the mark, left a dollar on the table. The school crush you let pass you by because you weren’t prepared to make a move. 

Not to be cliche or contrite but I’ve found that you should “always trust the data”. In my humble opinion, this one happens to be spot on. When you don’t plan, you’re winging it. And if you’re winging it you don’t have the data needed to help you decide. This eventually leads to hesitation, which leads to inaction. You didn’t have the guts to pursue what you wanted because you didn’t have a plan. You didn’t use data to make an informed decision. Knowledge and success go hand and hand. Knowledge also tempers anxiety and unrealistic expectations. 

I can say this because I have a lifetime of missed opportunities. Monies left on the table. I’ve missed the boat on some deals that could’ve set my family straight for life. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve carved out a pretty damn good life. The risks I took were smart and calculated. But what if– what if I’d thrown caution to the wind. 

My point, don’t be that guy: the guy I was who was too cautious to make an out of the box move. So, I would like to pass my little rule book—something to think about when you’re on the fence about a life-changing venture. 

I call this the Podfather’s Playbook for risks: 

1. A calculated risk backed with data and thoughtful planning is one worth taking 2. Paralysis by analysis can kill a great plan; sometimes, you have to jump from the frying pan into the fire. 

a. If opportunity doesn’t knock. Knock the door down. Opportunities are made in action more so than by chance. 

3. A worthwhile risk that fails is better than a risk never taken. 

4. Embrace the uncertainty. Nothing in life worth having comes without sacrifice and some form of opposition. 

The overarching point is being careful and being cautious are not the same thing. One helps you; the other holds you back. Cautious people worry about not doing the right thing. The fear of making a mistake leads to never taking action; careful people gather enough data to make the best and most informed decision they can. 

Fear and pride are strong deterrents to pursuing opportunities. It establishes invisible barriers. Trust me, I know it’s not easy to change your mindset. I don’t want you to feel as if this is an overnight process. However, I would like you to keep this in mind: 

The only thing that’s for sure is nothing is for sure. And you have to be in it to win it. Chase the life you dreamed of and not the one you’ve settled for. Because eventually, you’re going to run out of chances to chase your dreams. Moral of the story friends– carpe diem.

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Chad Lemoine: Mental Health

I may have never attempted suicide, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought hard about it and come really close. I can see the pylons under the overpass like they are right in front of me now.

Alone in my car, $1.6 million life insurance policy active, and struggling to find hope while my career teetered on the brink, I tried to design an accidental car crash where I’d be the only casualty.

It was never about making a statement or getting some sort of sick revenge, so a gun or pills or any of the traditional methods never really even crossed my mind. I just wanted to escape the prison I was in. 

My family would be taken care of, it would look like an accident so I wouldn’t give them the added trauma of knowing I did it on purpose. I would watch from wherever I ended up as they mourned my death and I would finally have the answers to those questions I had asked myself about whether or not my life meant anything to anyone beyond the superficial in the first place.

I can’t tell you exactly what it is that kept me from following through, but my love for my family and my desire to see my children grow up and to fulfill my dream of growing old and watching sunsets with my wife definitely played a role.

That was almost 15 years ago. I’m not going to lie to you and say that I haven’t had some less serious brushes with the same fate, but I will tell you that I am still here. I’m writing this to tell you why and to tell you what I’ve discovered since.

I’m still here because I found enough of a glimmer of hope that the next day might offer some new opportunity or new experience that I would be happy to have stayed around for. And then the next day, the despair wasn’t quite as intense and I found myself noticing blessings I had not noticed the day before.

But that wasn’t enough to keep those feelings from coming back. I was still stuck in the same rut, going through the same motions, feeling the same lack of fulfillment, and watching time slip away from me at the same rate. I wasn’t getting any younger and my mortality and the disappointment in my accomplishments as I reflected on my adolescent aspirations was becoming a weight I could no longer bear.

When the “great recession” hit, I was really feeling the pressure and it pushed me to the brink yet again.

This time, though, the biggest bargain going on in my head was whether or not to just resign myself to being a zombie consumer with little to no creative responsibility or pressure to really produce. I was finding myself acquiescing to finding a job where I could just punch a clock and serve my time until what was seeming like retirement that would come in my 70s or 80s.

I was ready to give up the freedom to blaze my own trail just so I could rid myself of the pressure that comes with really putting yourself and your talents out there for the world to see. Likes and shares give that dopamine hit, but criticism can send a fragile ego back underground.

Thankfully, my fight or flight instinct kicked in and landed on “fight,” so I kept pushing myself to succeed enough to survive a sales job I largely hated and an economy that had me a week or 2 away from losing even that.

But I was still “safe“ and, while I hadn’t chosen to give in to full on zombie mode, I was definitely infected and needed to find a cure quickly before that same type of circumstance put my back against the wall again.

I was in my 40s and I finally realized that it was time to put up or shut up.

I’ve never really been much for New Year’s resolutions because 1) most people generally don’t even make it through the month of January living up to them and 2) why should I have to wait until January 1 to do something that needs doing? Nonetheless, as 2017 came to a close and we were about to usher in a new year, I found myself resolving to begin taking the risks that I knew I would regret not taking when I eventually pass on from this physical form.

It dawned on me that what had me in such a state of despair, frustration, and disappointment was my own fear of rejection and failure. I was letting that fear of rejection and failure keep me from even trying the things that, if successful, would actually give me the fulfillment and creative outlet I was so desperate for.

Think about how insane and silly that is. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, I wouldn’t even try to accomplish it in the first place. It is an absolute fallacy that you can’t fail if you don’t try. Not trying is guaranteed failure.

So when I looked at this in the context of that moment (and the many moments since) where I seriously contemplated suicide, I came to the realization that I was sure as hell not going to tap out of life without doing my damnedest to be everything I thought I could be even if it killed me in the process.

I also felt a responsibility to my children to give them the type of example they needed to not find themselves in the same situation I was in when they hit that “midlife crisis” area.

The imagery was pretty clear in my head as I imagined a continuous cycle of human beings dragging a big bag of garbage through a maze only to hand it off to their children when they get to the other side and then their children drag it as they navigate the maze to the other side to hand it off to *their* children. And the cycle continues in perpetuity with no one opening the bag to realize that it’s full of garbage and it keeps growing and no one questioning why they were doing it in the first place except to answer “this is what my grandparents did and my parents did. It’s what we’ve always done.“

I decided I was going to find a way to escape the maze and bring as many people to freedom as possible. So I started to just put myself out there without fear of rejection or failure. In fact, I planned for failure and rejection because I had become so accustomed to it. And I realized that after failure and rejection I was still alive to try again so why not keep trying?

What happened next was nothing short of mind blowing for me. I just started reaching out to people who shared my perspective and who I wanted to try to bring together for synergistic collaboration.

I have met people who were once heroes, idols, and inspirations of mine. They are still all of those things, but now they are also friends and have credited me with influencing their world view, with introducing them to people and ideas, and best of all, those synergistic collaborations have already begun.

And along the way, I have met so many other people who I didn’t even know existed before 2018 and I honestly can’t tell you what my life would be like and where my head would be if I hadn’t met them. These people have become friends, collaborators, and inspirations of mine as well.

All because I chose to keep my car on the road, to not be afraid to trust myself and the value of my talents, and to take that leap of faith to introduce myself to the opportunities to flourish that had always been there waiting for my introduction.

You see, those opportunities are there for all of us, but we have to get over our fear of failure and our internal dialogue where we tell ourselves that we are too small, too insignificant, and not worthy of the greatness that is within all of us.

Say what you will about Marianne Williamson, but I am convinced that the woman has a heart of pure gold. I will leave you with this quote of hers as a bit of inspiration:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world, there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we consciously give others permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson

And this quote from Howard Thurman:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

-Howard Thurman

Live. And live your life to the fullest. The world needs you alive.

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Rita Monser- Business

In business we call it Risk Averse. Investors prefer lower returns with known risk rather than higher returns with unknown risks. The opposite is Risk Tolerance. Investors take the view that long-term gains outweigh short-term losses. 

There is no one way to approach risk in our work or business that leads to success. When you have nothing to lose, risk appears easier. As we build and maintain a reputation and career while increasing our financial obligations, our ability to gamble what we’ve earned becomes harder to do.

Why is that? You can’t take the personal out of how you choose to create wealth. Your personal life experience and how you approach risk either keeps you safe or pushes you to dream and live those dreams. 

When the Risk You Take is Not the Winner You Thought It Would Be

I knew from a young age I’d have my own business someday. Mainly because I knew I’d work harder for myself. After high school I went to college in order to get a business degree, still not sure of what my business would be. I was 20 when I applied for a receptionist position at a medical office. I was looking for a job where I could answer phones and study at the same time. This job was not that. The doctor who had recently purchased the medical practice believed she should be a doctor and a businessperson should run the business. Since I was in school for a business degree, she offered to teach me the business then wanted me to apply what I was learning. I was intrigued; it was a job in an industry I was not familiar with, I had no experience managing a medical office yet I had nothing to lose and a lot to learn plus it helped pay for my living expenses at the time.

Within 5 years the practice became very successful. In my 8th year I was offered a partnership which I accepted. It was a huge risk to partner in a medical business and not be a doctor. I would always be vulnerable in the event a doctor decided not to work. As the business director, patients were not coming in to see me; if there was no doctor and no patients, there was no business. Looking back, I had that thought in the beginning. When I voiced my concerns with my soon-to-be partners, they said it’s all about trust. So, I jumped in and became a 33% owner with two doctors, and it was amazing for about a week. Partnerships are not like sole ownerships, all decisions must be agreed to by all partners. Ownership is hard work, hard work I can do. What I had trouble with was listening to my inner concerns about risk, trust, and the end game. I never planned for a start, middle and end to this business. I was solely focused on achieving my goal of owning a business. 11 years after being hired I was offered 50% ownership and by my 16th year I owned 100% of the medical office. There were 3 doctors, 22 staff members, and a huge clientele that kept us busy and financially successful. 

By the age of 36 I had worked myself into owning a strong business and yet I wasn’t excited. I was numb, pretty much phoning it in. I discovered that this business wasn’t my dream; it was the dream of the doctor that hired me. I was so intent on owning a business I jumped in to owning one that didn’t generate excitement or fulfill my dreams. In my dreams, my business would help people with their business ventures. The reason I was hired to begin with was to help this medical business. The success of building the clientele was my input on how to market, design staffing protocols, maximizing inventory, and working on other types of business-related ideas I was able to test and learn from. We built a system that worked, and I was in charge. Personally, I began to fixate on two thoughts, how am I going to do this for 25 more years and how dare I think of leaving? Those 2 thoughts consumed me to the point of paralysis. Risky to leave, risky to stay. 

So many people relied on me, the risk of disappointing someone or being looked upon in the industry with disapproval mattered far more than I let on. No one understood how I could want to walk away. 

My family wasn’t considered middle class until I was in high school, before that we’d be called working poor. My family had no time for me living a dream; in their minds, you grew up, got a job, kept that job and were thankful. When I tried to explain I wanted more than to work for a paycheck because I wanted to take my skills and help someone, my parents thought I was out of my mind. I can understand how they felt. They didn’t allow themselves to have more, and I know they had dreams. They didn’t plan on having 5 kids they couldn’t afford. Mom wanted to be more than a housewife, Dad wanted more than 9 to 5 drudgery. They stuck it out and thought I should as well. 

Modifying Risk 

Instead of risking what others thought of me, I decided to create a way out to make everyone feel at ease. I had a plan; I would start a consulting business and my clients would be medical offices in need of help. My medical business would run without me for a few days a week as I built my consulting firm. I could do both, run a business and start a new business. The new plan was to grow the consulting firm then sell our services to medical businesses. 

At the beginning I had a business mentor and web manager as partners. The three of us created an amazing business plan, I was working around the clock excited to launch this new business. It was all going well until I started giving the new business 90% of my attention and the current business 10%. 

Failure 

I thought I could run the business outside of the office but I couldn’t. I thought I could focus on the new business while the other business was struggling. I couldn’t do that either. In 2012 I stopped working on the consulting and by 2013 I sold the medical business at a loss. It’s all gone and all I have is 23 years of experience. In the end I can no longer consult the industry I spent the bulk of my career in. I couldn’t get a job at another practice. It’s a small world when you fail, the people and businesses you work around don’t answer your calls anymore. I had to start over but no longer with nothing to lose, I had debt and obligations that seemed insurmountable at the time. I quickly found entry level jobs that led me to other industries and worked my way up in a company that helped financially. 

The thing that could never happen happened, my biggest fear was losing faith in those around me and being ashamed when someone from my past asks, “what happened to you”? Some may say the lesson is I should have stuck with playing it safe, others may say I was selfish for wanting more than I had. I didn’t just lose the business, I lost the ability to take another risk. After living through the fear and loss I spent 7 years climbing out to regain financial stability working for someone else. I never once thought of my dream of owning my own business, then the world changed in March 2020 and now everything is risky. 

I’ve learned so much, but my biggest lesson is work has 2 meanings. First it’s a means to support yourself and family; second, creating or working for a business that personally fulfills you is the dream. And just as the story goes, once you live through something you feared, you come out on the other side with a better understanding of who you are, what you want and what really matters. 

Every day we take a risk to either play it safe or put our energy into what really gets us excited. If there is one message I lost track of it’s always bet on yourself. I spent too many years looking for someone to validate my ideas. Now I know what I want, and I know where I’ve been. I just plan better now, trust myself, and face obstacles I placed in front of me. You should do the same, it’s your dream.

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