Fear, Failure and Fuck it


Laird Hamilton, riding one of the heaviest waves on record in Teahuppo, Tahiti, 2000. 

Laird Hamilton, riding one of the heaviest waves on record in Teahuppo, Tahiti, 2000. 

This morning my friend JC Chang posed a question on his Twitter.

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

It's a common question asked to inspire action of unrealized dreams. The problem with this question is that it doesn't recognize the importance of failure. 

How many movies have been made where someone is living an "ordinary" life, upon finding out they're sick with months to live, sells all their belongings and backpacks around the world? 

Our knowledge of our own mortality gives us an appreciation for living. Failure gives value to your dreams. 

You've always wanted to be a writer. A singer. A photographer.

You see the dream. The goal.

It haunts you.

And the fear of failing equally haunts you.

Your dream is that stunning girl at the party, the one you cannot stop looking at. You want to talk to her. That fear of rejection is a mother fucker. That fear is a sign. Fear is the indicator that you're onto something with a high payoff. Fear is the filter to see who's worthy of what lies beyond it.

Laird Hamilton, regarded as one of the best surfers of all time (see photo above), talked about being labeled fearless in his book "Force of Nature".


"Every so often, in an article or an interview, someone describes me as "fearless." In my opinion, that's like calling me an idiot. Fear is a natural response. Without it, we wouldn't survive. If you're never scared, then you've either never been hurt or you're completely ignorant. The idea that fear is something to deny is completely misguided. 

Forget your emotions around fear for a second and look at the simple reality: It's an energy source designed to increase performance. Adrenaline and the natural hormones your body creates when you're scared are more powerful than any drug. The ability to harness it constructively, that's the trickily part. Once you star to understand fear, it becomes something you can tap into. In my experience, fear usually prompts me to make really good decisions. I'd even go so far as to say that it gives me power. 

How do you use fear to empower yourself? You don't fight it, and you don't overanalyze it. Think too much about a frightening situation causes your mind to start chattering and it gets in the way of your body."


In the words of Ice-T, you have to learn to say "Fuck it".