Every year during the month of December, Buddy highlights the Twelve Days of Fearlessness. Whether it is getting up the nerve to lace up your old ice skates with your five-year-old or conquering a halfpipe like your teenage days, fearlessness is not just situational for all- for some, it is a way of life.
What are MY fears, and how are they preventing me from achieving my goals?
A good friend and fellow entrepreneur recently contacted me to ask that I write an article in support of his organization’s “12 Days of Fearlessness” campaign. The company, Buddy Insurance, is an accident insurance group solely aimed at providing services for those of us inclined toward exploration, adventure, and any other thing that may get the adrenaline pumping and the heart pounding.
As an avid adventurer and life-long lover of the outdoors, my mind immediately launched into memories of the incredible expeditions, treks, hikes, climbs, and experiences that I’ve had the honor of completing throughout my life. Writing this article based on those memories alone would be a simple task. The connection between mountain climbing and the theme of fearlessness is obvious…even at face value.
…but the more time I spend contemplating my own adventures and their relevance to the topic at hand, the more I find myself reflecting on every other aspect of my life, even the mundane tasks I encounter day-to-day… And in turn, I find myself reflecting on the lives of those around me. Through that reflection, I’ve slowly come to the realization that fearlessness is a concept that plays an important role in everything we as homo-sapiens do, regardless of age, sex, circumstance, location, or ability.
So what does fearlessness even mean?
The notion of fearlessness suggests a complete and total absence of fear in the face of some perceived danger. It indicates that a fearless person is able to pursue perilous goals without concern for the risks that may be involved. The broad implication is that a fearless person gives no weight to the potential for failure or the loss of life and limb.
In other words…the idea of fearlessness is total bullshit…
We all experience fear. Anyone making claims to the contrary is a liar. The reality here is that our fears often manifest themselves in significantly different ways, and are entirely dependent on the priorities we’ve developed throughout our lives. Those priorities directly govern how we shape the world around us and determine how fear may impact the choices we make on a daily basis. Every one of us has known fear on some level or another. It’s a natural and genetically-inherited emotion that exists to prevent us from doing anything that may adversely affect the length or quality of our lives. Fear provides weight and significance to all of our pursuits.
With all of this in mind, it becomes apparent that the important question is not “What does fearlessness mean?” The real important question that we should all ask ourselves on a daily basis is “What are MY fears, and how are they preventing me from achieving my goals?”
Fear as a motivtor
To expand on this question, I’ll share one of my own life-long fears that directly impacts the decisions I make every single day:
I fear a dull and meaningless life.
It may come as no surprise for many of you to hear that I am not a particularly religious man. Anything beyond the bounds of verifiable science confuses me to no end. Because of this, I operate without any belief in an after-life or the possibility for reincarnation. What I DO believe, however, is that we, as biological creatures, only have one real chance at life…That we only get to ride this roller-coaster once, and so we better make the absolute best of it while we still can. In many instances, my fear of a meaningless life overwhelms and may even supersede the one common fear we all share as living creatures…the inevitable approach of mortality.
So how does this fear of drudgery impact my life and the choices I make on a daily basis?
Well, for starters, I refuse to let any lesser fear prevent me from pursuing calculated risks. I may have a fear of heights, but that fear will always play second-fiddle to the over-arching fear of drudgery. It will never be the deciding factor that keeps me from parachuting out of an airplane or climbing a mountain. I may fear failure, but I refuse to let that fear guide the choices I make within my career. Despite the risk for failure and the associated loss of my financial stability, I chose to found a company. I was dissatisfied with the daily grind of my cubicle-centric life and decided the overall risk might just be worth the reward. Like any good tech-nerd, I may fear speaking to or approaching members of the fairer sex, but you can be damn sure I wasn’t going to let that prevent me from sparking up the first conversation I had with the woman who would later become my wife!
The bottom line here is that I don’t think fearlessness really and truly exists. We all experience a degree of fear around something…and that’s absolutely okay. We as a species are naturally fearful creatures. But it’s important to remember that the fear we experience is just an ingrained biological tool that helps us to make positive and productive choices in our lives. That fear does not have to guarantee that we never commit to or pursue the adventures and opportunities life throws our way.
It’s how we leverage that fear that defines who we are.
Alexander Stein is Founder and director of Bluetec, a Cyber-security focused IT services firm. He originally posted this article on the Bluetec blog, and the article is republished here with permission.