Risk is in our DNA.
At its core, it all comes down to a fundamental truth – the human psyche has been finely tuned for risk. Throughout most of our history, we found ourselves exposed to the elements, compelled to hunt for sustenance, and constantly vigilant against predatory threats. Each day posed new challenges that tested our mettle.
Somewhere along our societal journey, we began to equate comfort with happiness. Modern inventions have emerged with the primary goal of eradicating any form of discomfort - lavish residences, opulent automobiles, the convenience of instant gratification. Yet, curiously, none of these luxuries seem to bring us true happiness.
This paradox arises because, despite the astonishing technological advancements we've witnessed, our biological makeup remains largely unchanged. Deep within us, we retain primal instincts rooted in the pursuit of survival. When we fail to find avenues for expressing these instincts, our lives can feel mundane and uneventful. It's as though our DNA harbors an innate comfort in adversity.
Embracing the Tremor
Fear often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we strive to evade it, the more it dictates our actions. Our fear of failure acts as a formidable barrier, preventing us from taking risks, exploring uncharted territories, and evolving as individuals. In our relentless quest to dodge failure, we may overlook the abundance of opportunities for success that surround us.
Fear is a constant companion, one that should not be banished entirely. Instead, it must be confronted head-on. The ability to confront fear, to lend an ear to its warnings, and then proceed in its direction regardless, has been cited by many high achievers as a cornerstone of their success.
As Tim Ferris aptly stated, "Fear is a compass. It often points in the direction we should go. The most rewarding experiences in my life have come from asking a simple question: What's the worst that could happen?"
Eleanor Roosevelt also emphasized the value of embracing what we fear:
"Strength, courage, and confidence are gained through confronting fear directly. You can tell yourself, 'I have faced this ordeal and emerged stronger. I can handle whatever comes next.' You must undertake those tasks you believe are beyond your capacity." - Eleanor Roosevelt
A Message from the Founder
From a very early age, my fascination with sports and athleticism consumed me. My mom fondly recalls a moment when, at the age of two, I received a child-sized basketball hoop for Christmas. It was then that my parents began to suspect sports might be my future. By the age of nine, I was spending countless hours in batting cages, shooting hoops, climbing trees, while my peers indulged in video games. Those days remain etched in my memory. They felt like a different dimension, where time moved slowly, and my focus was unwavering. As I grew older, I learned that this phenomenon was known as the "Flow State" or "The Zone," a concept now explored and studied in the field of neuroscience.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I never became a professional athlete. Yet, the quest for that feeling persisted even after I left sports behind.
When I graduated college with a pointless degree and got underpaid at a corporate gym, I vividly remember how stress, anxiety, and the fear of risk overwhelmed me to the point i knew i had to make a change.
I returned home for a period to contemplate my next life stage. Following my first business venture, which I deemed a failure, day trading was another failure, another business failure, coupled with a lack of direction in my life, I descended into severe depression. With the severe anxiety of being a failure at the time i had my ex girlfriend walk away saying i was broke, i was not a man, i was immature. Fortunately, my family heard the fall and came to my rescue, holding me up, keeping me going, and this is where i really knew i had to prove myself.
My first step towards recovery was a return to physical exercise. Not just workouts, but running, boxing, yoga, sports. I delved deeply into weightlifting, treating it as my sport, and began to explore the mental aspects of training. I became captivated by the fact that my mind often signaled me to stop, even when my body could continue. I started to regularly push myself to the point of "failure" to discern where my mind's limitations contrasted with my physical capabilities. I was astounded to discover that, more often than not, I possessed a reserve of physical strength, about 20% more, beyond what my brain initially deemed feasible.
This practice transformed my life in profound ways.
I endeavored to apply this 20% philosophy to every facet of my existence. When I felt too fatigued to read further in a business book, I compelled myself to read even more. When fear held me back from applying to college, I applied to two additional institutions that evoked even greater trepidation (remarkably, I gained admission to a school I had previously considered far beyond my reach, thanks to this strategy). I became acutely aware of moments when my mind told me to "stop" doing something, and I used those instances as cues to push myself further.
The psychological underpinnings of this phenomenon are well-documented; you can easily find information on the "Lizard Brain" with a quick Google search. Essentially, there exists a part of our brain perpetually striving to ensure our safety. However, it is primitive and hyperactive, often preventing us from pursuing our dreams due to an exaggerated perception of risk, even perceiving non-threatening situations as life-threatening. It generates reasons why we shouldn't take action, such as avoiding applying to a desired school out of fear of rejection, which it perceives as a life-or-death situation.
Undefined Pursuit emerged as a phoenix from the ashes of my life's trials and tribulations. Yet, I had an epiphany to create an apparel company centered around connecting the physical benefits of training to the mental rewards it could offer.
RISK AND PERFORMANCE
The idea that we are hardwired for risk is supported in the relationship between risk and performance. According to behavioral scientist Amy Bucher, “Just as there seems to be an optimal level of stress for growth and learning, a certain amount of fear can lead to high performance. Fear signals there’s something of consequence on the line, a reason to exert effort.”
This is a phenomenon we have all experienced in high stakes sports competitions, but it is the same in non-athletic pursuits as well. Intellectual, emotional, and creative risks are all triggers that drive our focus into the present moment and facilitate high performance states. In other words, risk heightens focus, and focus leads to flow.
The fear of the unknown is a powerful force that constrains our lives in ways we rarely acknowledge. We may rationalize our avoidance of difficulty by telling ourselves that we’re too busy or that we need more time to prepare, but the truth is that we’re often afraid to venture into unknown territory.
We will leave you with this quote from Marcel France:
“The secret of life is this: When you hear the sound of the cannons, walk toward them.”