I wish I could claim these words as my own. They are not. In fact, they are directly out of one of the most revered personal development classics, The Magic of Thinking Big. This is one of a handful of books that I have read more than once.
One of the most profound statements made in this book is, “Action cures fear.” In essence, we can spend our time worrying about what might happen or we can push forward.
In the alternative investment world, buying a piece of real estate, making a loan or starting a business is not an investment decision that can be easily reversed. Investors should absolutely perform diligent research and introspection before moving forward with a deal. There are always reasons not to invest, just as there are always reasons to invest.
The challenge is that the majority of us have an incredible fear of making mistakes, so we take the easy road where we are assured of not making mistakes. You can’t mess up if you do nothing, right?
I can look back at many moments in my life and know that I could have made some better decisions. Yet strangely enough, I wouldn’t go back and change any of them. Every one of those poor decisions has been an integral part of shaping the direction of my life. Without mistakes and lessons, there would be no progress.
What of regret?
There is no worse regret than the regret of inaction. It has a deteriorating effect. Have you met people trapped in the world of coulda, woulda, shoulda? You know who I’m talking about. They are the people that just missed the internet stock boom, that just missed the real estate boom and that are now sitting on the sidelines scared to death of their own shadow.
This is not to say that you should ever invest with abandon. Warren Buffett, arguably the world’s most successful investor, is fond of the “always in/always out” school of thought. Since even he can’t claim the ability to precisely time markets, he has decided to always be in those markets...and he hasn’t done too badly. Once you’ve decided that you’re in, then you can turn your focus toward how to maximize benefit and limit your risk.
This is not just a lesson for investing. If you want to get to your end destination, you have to move. That means action. The next time that you find yourself scared of making a phone call, having a difficult conversation or pushing forward on a well thought out decision, take Nike’s advice: just do it.