Fortune Friday: “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”

Ask anyone what is stopping them from pursuing the life of their dreams, or changing careers mid-life, or following a less-conventional path, and they will probably answer ‘fear.’ Fear has killed more brilliant novels, beautiful paintings, life-altering technologies, and fairytale romances, than war has killed people. Okay, maybe not quite that many, but fear has squashed a great many would-be amazing things.

And I truly believe that. I could literally list off dozens, if not hundreds, of art projects, new business concepts, book ideas, and career alternatives that I never did anything about because I was afraid. Afraid of failing. Afraid of looking stupid. Afraid of being alone. Afraid of going bankrupt. Afraid of ridicule. Afraid of hitting rock bottom and having to start over from scratch.

Fear ruled my world.

I’ve played my life very safe. In fact, so safe that I’ve never risked anything substantial. And consequently, I’ve never won anything substantial either. I’ve remained cooly in the middle, never failing, but never really winning either. I missed out on or purposely turned down a lot of opportunities and experiences that could have really enriched my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had a really nice life and I am grateful for a great many things. I’ve had good jobs, good friends and family, and good memories. Truly.

But good is the enemy of great.

And good just isn’t good enough for me anymore. The older I get, the more I want out of life. Not just things or stuff or possessions—although those things are certainly nice—but a higher level of living. I crave more. More quality of life. More personal time to be creative. More flexibility and ability to direct my life as I choose. More fulfillment. More contribution. More doing stuff that matters, that helps the world.

I used to believe that wanting more meant I was ungrateful for what I had. But I don’t think that anymore. I want more. No apologies, no explanations. Just more.

There is a strange correlation between fear and aging. It has a polarizing effect. People either grow increasingly fearful and pursue ‘safety’ (usually through acquiring or stockpiling wealth) to the exclusion of nearly everything, or they grow increasingly carefree and apathetic.

And not apathetic in a I’m-giving-up-on-life sort of way.

But more of a I-am-too-old-and-too-tired-to-care-what-anyone-thinks-anymore.

I have certainly found this to be true. The older I get, the less I care about caring. Faced with the diminishing number of days left in my one, precious life, I have grown more and more impatient with the idea of coasting into mediocre old age. If you are fine with it, God bless. I wish you peace and contentment.

But I want more.

Life is too short to be afraid all the time.

To your good fortune!

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