Be brave the first time

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ab8c9f3b653a8c8be7d1b103da8f4fe7In 1999, I invested $500 into my first business.

Today, that seems like no big deal but at the time, I was very scared even though I was making a very good living in software and did not need the money. My hangup came from life conditioning that I had received in which I had been trained to be cautious. My idea of a successful life was a secure job with benefits and no stress. I hoarded money, rarely spending it on anything, much less a business that would more than likely fail.

So for me, that measly $500 investment was a big thing. I had to be brave and fortunately, as it turned out, that first business did not fail. It actually very quickly became a modest success and is still around today (now operated by my children). Strangely enough, it has generated about the same revenue for all of those years. It will never be a huge business but its profits have been significant to my family.

As it turns out, that first $500 investment changed me. It was not an instant process but over the next decade, I morphed from a 9-5 employee into a serial entrepreneur, eventually taking infinitely bigger risks on larger businessess without blinking an eye or losing a bit of sleep. Not all of those decisions were wise and even some of the wise ones did not work out very well. But in spite of the failures, I will never be an overly cautious person again. It took that first step of $500, but I never looked back.

The quote on the picture you see above resonates with me. It is clearly written from a brave person’s perspective, and for me, it rings true because that is the way I am wired. It is not wrong to be cautious and can even often be prudent, but I can tell you something that I have observed: I very, very rarely run across anyone later on in life who is sorry that they took too many risks, but I run across people constantly who bemoan the fact that they missed out on something because they were not brave enough to take on certain risks.

No, success is not guaranteed to risk takers. However, I know people who lost much because they were brave enough to take risks and strangely enough, they usually seemed to find a way back. They saw failures as stepping stones rather than destinations. If they persevered, they eventually floundered their way to success. Folks, don’t fall for the success stories you see in glossy magazines. Almost all people that are successful in any way have done it the hard way. If they are wealthy today, they were probably broke at some point in the past. If they are US Senators today, they lost local elections decades ago. If they have a great marriage today, they probably went through rocky times in that same marriage at some point. Their journey has not been smooth but it has been fulfilling and ultimately rewarding simply because they were brave.

So here is my suggestion for you today: honestly look at your life and try to imagine how you will look back at today from your deathbed. Will you regret then that you were not brave enough to take a certain risk today? If the answer is yes, take that first step just like I had to many years ago with my first $500 investment.

Maybe you need to tell someone for the first time that you love them.

Maybe you need to start a business.

Maybe you need to change careers.

Maybe you need to move to a new place.

Maybe you need to adopt a child.

Maybe you need to stand up to abuse that you or someone else is receiving.

Maybe you need to start a ministry.

Maybe you need to do something radical to help your children.

Some of our big things may not be big at all when compared to others but they are still big to us. Purpose to do your big things and live bravely. Start living in a way that you will not regret later.

It is the only way to live.