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The price you pay for fear

I was talking to my mom about investing in lands and she was telling me all the stories she read in newspapers about how people got their lands transacted without their consents and how the lawyers and land office personnel teamed up to cheat the land owners.  She told me that that was the reason she didn't invest in lands, the fear of being cheated.

The Price You Pay for Fear
Photo credit: Samer Daboul

I was brought up in a family that is very prudent and skeptical about almost everything, especially opportunities.  I have to admit that it has served me well in some situations but most of the time it made me paranoid about every single thing in life.  It is good to be prudent and careful, I was told. After all, the chance of getting cheated is much less.

There are already many people making money from renting out rooms on Airbnb.  At the meantime, there are still many people who are afraid that the items in their unit get stolen and afraid that the guests ruin their place, etc.

There are people that would tell you suppliers from China will always ship to you items that don't match what you ordered.  The same people that would tell you not to buy things online or don't invest in stock.

Fair enough, these people usually don't lose any money because of their prudence and that become their mantra in making future decisions and that will also be how they advise their friends and family members.

However, if you take a closer look, do they really not lose anything?  How about the possibility of ending up owning 10-20 properties from Airbnb income alone?  The possibility of making a million dollar business out of the importing the products from China?  And the loss of the value of your saving due to inflation?

Fear is built into us and it is one of the key mechanisms to keep us safe. However, it is important to understand that the fear is normal and here are some of the options you have on hand:

1) If the possible loss is 'affordable' and the opportunity makes sense, take the worst case scenario that you will lose what you put in (time, money and other resources) and treat it as the 'tuition fee' that you need to pay to acquire that knowledge.

2) If the possible loss is big (relatively to your income and saving), research and talk to people who have done it. Go through your fear with them, they may already have a way to mitigate the risk.

3) Now that you know what you have to lose, the available mitigation methods, the risk that you have to take and the possible reward, make a decision.  When you reach this stage and decide not to proceed, it is no longer fear that holds you back, but it is a decision made.  Situation and decision may change when the risk is no longer there, or there is a mitigation method that you come across or the reward become greater.

If you have been having the same fear for the same opportunity, it is time to take the above actions, instead of keep reading and soliciting for the same stories that strengthen the fear.

Some people think that getting cheated are something to be shameful about and they boast about how they have not made any mistake or lose any money.  They don't get to see what they possibly have gained for taking the risk.

If you do make a wrong investment or choice, learn from it, try to identify which part of the journey you could have identified the mistake, laugh about it and add it to your experience and knowledge and it will sharpen your common sense over time.  However, be careful when you try to draw a conclusion that "I will never... again" because this will shut down all the future possibilities.

This doesn't just apply to investment opportunity.  There are equally as many people who are afraid to visit a country because of possible ISIS attack, afraid of meeting someone online because of the horrible stories they have heard, refuse to help someone in need because of the possibility of being cheated, afraid to fall in love again because he/she was used once.

Again, they may have not lost anything from making the above decisions.  Or, they may have lost everything ever possible.

This reminds me of a quote, “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd.

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