A Few More Thoughts on Fear
August 8, 2012
Freaking Out My Family
There is a difference between recklessness and calculated risk taking. Recklessness is attempting an open water swim when you’re not really sure if you have the fitness to do it. I think it would be reckless to finance our business on a credit card. Calculated risk taking is different. It’s still a risk and a gamble. But, it’s a gamble that makes a little more sense. Yes, I know that great white sharks are in the Santa Cruz area this time of year. That being said, people are rarely attacked. I could choose not to go into the ocean at all and miss out on a fun open water race. Or, I can take the calculated risk knowing that the chances are very remote of anything happening to me. I choose to risk. The benefits outweigh the risks. With our business, we are in the fortunate position of being able to finance the initial costs out of savings. We’re not wealthy by Bay Area standards, and we are feeling the financial strain. That being said, if we lose all our initial investment, we won’t be in debt. Charlie has the business savvy, and I’m hoping that I have the creative talent to be able to create a product and a business that delights our customers. We have talented people behind us who are giving of themselves in order to give this business an honest shot. We’re taking a gamble with the potential upside of being able to make a modest living doing soul-satisfying work. If the business goes, there is tremendous potential to be a part of people lifting themselves out of poverty. So, it’s a risk, but I don’t think that it’s reckless.
Open Water Swimming and Life
As I was looking into how open water swimmers deal with fear and anxiety, I was comforted by the fact that there has been a lot written on the subject. In other words, I wasn’t by myself in dealing with fear and anxiety. Triathlon coach Steve Trew had some of the best advice I’ve seen. He started by saying that fear is a part of open water swimming. It’s something that almost everyone who does the sport deals with at one time or another. So, when it comes, recognize it as normal. Then, he gave some very practical advice. When you’re afraid in the water, the goal is to relax and breathe. You’re trying to prevent hyperventilation or a full-on panic attack. The strategy is that you flip onto your back and breathe deeply until you’re more relaxed. Then, flip onto your belly and take ten strokes forward. If you need to, flip onto your back and breathe again, or take ten more strokes forward. For me, this was meaningful advice. Meaningful in the water, but also meaningful in life. Risk and fear are companions. If you’re taking risks, you’re going to feel some fear. Recognize it as normal, take some deep breaths, and then continue to move forward.
So, we breathe deeply and press on.