It must have been some random weekend in 2005. Probably at an odd time in the wee hours of the morning. In a casino somewhere on the outskirts of San Diego, or Reno, or Las Vegas. I don’t remember. I was probably trying to appear nonchalant. Composed. Calm. This had become a routine thing. For a period of about 8-10 months, Jay and I would frequent casinos playing Blackjack. We were no professional players by any means. Neither were our pockets deep. But given the money we made in our jobs, we were betting beyond our means. But we weren’t simply betting money on pure luck. We were counting cards. It was thrilling and challenging. We would routinely see swings of a couple thousand dollars or more, up or down. We weren’t fools. Sure, gambling is a foolish activity. But I’d like to think it was a training ground for us in the fine art of taking risks and bearing the outcome of such risks.
In the card game of Blackjack, there is a play called Double Down. It’s my favorite play. You have two cards on the table that are considered favorable against the dealer’s weaker up facing card. This is a favorable hand and you want it as often as possible. You are allowed to double your bet. However, only one more card is dealt to you. Only one. It could be any card from one to Ace. It could put your hand in a very strong position or completely screw you if you draw a weak card. You need a good card for even though the the dealer is in a weaker position, the house could end up drawing a strong hand. You already have too much money on the table and have the opportunity of tripling it in one fell swoop. It could also all go bad and you’ll lose double the money. What do you do?
When you let go off fear, magical things can happen. Of all the times in your life, it is the moments where you put aside your crippling fear when you grow the most. From the very first time you stood up as a child. Your ability to take risks (and by risk, we mean calculated ones) is like a sharp blade that goes blunt over time. You must absolutely sharpen the edge at regular intervals.
Banish your fear of failure. It doesn’t belong. It is paralysing.
The wise ones know that the journey is the reward. The destination is just a place.