There was a time when I got things all wrong. I was afraid to speak. I was afraid to fight back. I was afraid to dream. The fear that held me back was the fear of having everything to lose. What if my parents disapproved? What if I fought back and my opponent kicked my ass? What if I pursued my dream only to realize I wasted my time? I thought about all these things a lot growing up in foreign countries with unknown students.
It was recess in the 4th grade, and I had been picked by one team to play right forward due to my quick feet. As I was about to strike the futbol into the goal, a boy from the Netherlands decided to sweep my legs and slide tackle me from behind. I screamed in agony as my back bent backwards and my arms went flailing. As I lay on the ground, my attacker cast a shadow over me and said, “Better luck next time Sam” with a smirk. As a bigger boy, he was constantly tripping and hitting others on the field, and nobody stood up to him.
Something in me began to boil after he mocked me while I was still in pain. As he was walking away, laughing and giving high-fives to his teammates, I rushed him like a raging bull, grabbed the collar of his back shirt and threw him to the ground. He lay on his back, continuing to smirk and giggle. It was then that I decided to stomp his solar plexus with my heel and let out a yell, “Laugh at this you cheater!”
My nemesis couldn’t breathe for about 30 seconds as he lay squirming. Everybody rushed to see what was going on, but nobody dared do anything. A teacher soon came to join the fray, and grabbed both of us to detention.
Our punishment was to face the wall for 30 minutes and not say a word. After 15 minutes, my enemy did say three words. “I am sorry.” From that day forward, we became friends, and nobody wanted to mess with me again.
THE PEOPLE YOU SHOULD BE MOST AFRAID OF
Ever since the 4th grade incident, I’ve decided to never back down if my honor is being insulted or if I or my friends are being physically attacked. At the same time, I promised to do my best never to be a prick and bully others. There were several more fighting instances that transpired in high school and college, but interestingly, we always made up and ended up respecting each other.
They say nature vs. nurture. In this incidence, nurture definitely played a role in who I am today. It’s the self-confidence to stand up for what I believe in, and to care less about the repercussions, in this case a bloody nose, that has given me the courage to just continue going, no matter what.
The people you should be most afraid of are the people who have nothing to lose. They’ve already hit rock bottom and no matter what happens to them, things can’t get possibly worse. These are the people you don’t want to mess with.
Work: Someone hates his job and wants to quit anyway. He’s not going to get a severance and is ready to take down and call out every single person who he feels has wronged him. Stay out of his way because he will send out that “F U” blast e-mail to the world and name names if you cross him!
Sports: Your opponent isn’t going to the post season, so they are going to swing with abandon. They are often times your most worthy adversary. How many times have you see those who play for their honor crush the favorites?
Love: Hell has no fury like a woman scorned. If she’s going to lose you, she’s going to make you pay. Know your woman well, because if you betray her, watch out! In this day of social media, your reputation will get dragged through the mud in a nanosecond.
Online: If you are depending solely on your online income to survive, then you have a tremendous amount to lose. You are a slave to Google and depend on the community in which you surround yourself with. If you make enemies online, you are literally cutting off each metatarsal, one by one until you have nothing left!
THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE MOST AFRAID
Financial advisers tell young folks to invest aggressively, early, and often. They don’t have much and if they lose 50% of their wealth in a market meltdown, it’s OK, since they have a lifetime to make that money back. On the flip side, financial advisers tell older individuals to be more conservative with their money, especially if they are nearing retirement or in retirement because they don’t have that time optionality.
The people who should be most afraid are those that have the most to lose. It’s why you see a a bewilderment of studies where even though an individual may have $25 million+ in assets, they still do not feel secure and need an extra 25% more! The more you have, the more you are afraid of losing it all! You end up buying insurance for this and that, just to give you peace of mind that your fortune will always be around.
The people who should be most afraid are those who continue to hang on to things which are impermanent. Let things go. It is already in the past, so it does not exist.
WHAT IS ONE SUPPOSED TO DO?
Part of the reason why I’ve been able to grow Financial Samurai is because I have never depended on the site for money. The money is either given away to charity, sent to someone I care about, or never touched. The writing on my site is predominantly just me and friends of the Financial Samurai community. It’s a place where we can pontificate and discuss matters of the mind.
I’ve probably denied a hundred sponsored posts over the past several years because the writing just sucks, and I have no patience for spending an hour re-writing and editing their post for money. Ironically, because I just write about whatever I want, advertisers consistently come out of the woodwork, and readership continues to grow.
If Financial Samurai got black-balled by Google one day, I would be very disappointed. But, the disappointment is not so much from the money, but from the fact that less people can find my articles, learn, comment and interact on things which I think are helpful, fun, and interesting. I write online because I love to write and connect with other people! Money is a distant second.
Even when it comes to money, what excites me more is not the $1,000 that hits the Paypal account from an advertisement deal, but the pursuit of the negotiation. It gives me way more satisfaction to negotiate a deal for myself and for the Yakezie Network than to see more numbers in my account. The love for money is evil. I truly believe this. It’s OK to let money come after doing what you enjoy. Just don’t focus on it!
THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN IS A WALK IN THE PARK
There are those who become “yesmen” and “yeswomen” at work, never able to speak their mind for fear of being brushed aside and ridiculed. They depend on their job so much to survive that they never take risks in their career. I get that one needs to really listen intently for the first 5 years of work. But afterward? Please grow some courage to stand up to workplace bullies and object to things that are wrong.
It’s tantamount that everybody continues to save aggressively, so that one day, we can all develop the optionality to work only because we want to. When you can do things not for the money, I swear to you that the window you look out of gets clearer. When I went to business school part-time, it was an absolute joy learning because there was no grade disclosure! I never knew learning could be so much fun. It’s the same thing with work, when you no longer need to depend on your day job to survive.
If everything goes to hell, I’ll just pack my bags, sell most of my belongings and move to a paid-off house in Hawaii where the sun always shines and the walks in the park are free. I’ll continue to write online, again for the love of writing and connecting with people. The savings and passive income from savings and rental properties will continue to come in, and nobody can ever take that away from me.
If this is the worst that can happen, then I’m really not afraid of much. And since I’m not afraid of much, I’ve got nothing to lose. And since I’ve got nothing to lose, do you really want to mess with me? I will stomp your solar plexus if you go too far! Besides, I’m having way too much fun to let things bother me much anymore.
Once you let go of your desire for money, material possessions, status, and other beings, you start setting yourself free. I’m not there yet, however, I am trying.
Readers, who are the people you should be most afraid of? And who are the people who should be most afraid?