Fear, Risk, Pain
On the 20th of October, I will be speaking during a TEDx, about turning your dream into reality, a great occasion to reflect on certain principles and particular events. It’s also a painful exercise for me as I need to be more structured than for my usual talks…
When I talk to entrepreneurs, I like to feel a balance between their paradoxical tensions, how their optimism doesn’t turn delusional thanks to clarity of vision, how their apprenticeships are paved by best practices mixed with their own learnings, how they deal with the struggle between speed and excellence.
Well, in order to achieve something with pleasure and pride, it’s the same thing. You’ve got to deal with a paradoxical tension attached to it. It means experiencing fear, taking risks, feeling pain… In short, to go out of your comfort zone!
In 2013, as I had advised dozens of entrepreneurs in their fundraising, wanted to jump on the buy side of the market, and thought I could become a decent investor, I decided to talk to some of the investors I had met over the previous years. It didn’t come as a surprise, but none of them wanted to hire me, and yet I had to take a leap and act upon that desire. In the summer, Martin Mignot at Index Ventures introduced me to The Family, a new organization willing to support ambitious French entrepreneurs in their journey. After meeting with them, it was clear they had a different energy, and an incredible willingness to make things move. It was irresistible. But they were very straightforward with me: We don’t know whether we will be able to pay your salary in three months. At the time, I was moving up the ladder, getting better and better at my current job. My wife was pregnant with our third child, we had a pretty heavy mortgage, and no money in the bank. It was quite a risk to take, but frankly, what was the worst thing that could happen… Not much. I had nothing to lose but energy into trying. We could have failed, I would have had to rebound in some way, and surely tensions would have arisen from that situation. But how do you expect first to achieve anything and second to feel the pleasure of those achievements if you don’t overcome how fear, risks, and pain make you feel?
Now enjoying the best job in the world with the best people I could dream to be working with, it feels amazing to have taken that risk back then.
It was true this time, but it’s true every single day, when we’re looking to achieve something, we must learn to cope with uncomfortable feelings, efforts, and moments in order for pleasure to express itself.
Before participating in my first Ironman two weeks ago, Christophe, my coach, told me: “During the marathon, you’re going to suffer twice. The first time, it’s your mind telling you to stop as a defensive mechanism. Don’t listen to it. Keep it up, and you will soon feel a new impulse to keep running. The second time, however, it’s your body that wants to shut down, and it’s not a mechanism; you’re in pain. But you’re also close to the end of the race, so hang in there and push yourself to the finish line in style !” - Well, that’s exactly what happened at the 22nd and 32nd kilometers, and it felt so good to fight against myself back there.
Don’t be foolish. There is a difference between being crazy and stupid. You’re being stupid if you put yourself at risk without understanding what it really means.
Chance Favors the Prepared Mind - Lindau Nobel