I Dare You

When you were a child did you ever accept a dare from a friend? Or play the famous game “Truth or Dare”? I still remember sweating it out when it came to be my turn, wondering which would be worse:

Squirming uncomfortably in my chair while someone asked me a truly embarrassing question that I did not want to answer (and I’m a terrible liar so that was never an option for me – everything I feel and think is written all over my face), or being forced to summon the courage to do something physical that was probably even more embarrassing!

I can still remember my heart beating wildly and my extreme nervousness just before I had to choose. It was terrifying!

But I also remember the absolute thrill of having successfully completed a dare, the adrenaline rush, the appreciation of my friends, and the burst of confidence (and sheer relief!) that came with succeeding.

Daring is not just for silly childhood and teenage games. On the contrary, the most successful leaders and investors in the world are the most daring people of all.

Who immediately comes to mind when you think of the world’s most successful leaders and investors?

Maybe Warren Buffett, George Soros, Jim Rogers, John Paulson, all billionaire investing legends?

Or Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., all inarguably strong leaders able to touch millions of people’s hearts and lives?

And what do these successful investors and leaders have in common?

That’s right, every single one of them lived a daring life. They dared to challenge the status quo and fight for what they believed in.

Warren Buffett didn’t look around at his peers and say to himself, “Well, they’re all buying dot com technology stocks, I guess I will, too”. Instead, he is well known for sticking to the courage of his convictions and going against the grain when “everyone” else was participating in the crazy dot-com mania.

Likewise, Gandhi didn’t look around at his countrymen and say, “Well, I’m sure someone else will take care of those pesky British; I think I’ll have another loaf of bread.” No, he too stuck to the courage of his convictions and continuously stood up for what he believed in, freeing the entire country of India in the process.

What does it mean to dare?

The dictionary tells us that ‘dare’ is defined as a verb meaning, “to have the courage to do something”, and as a noun meaning, “a challenge, esp. to prove courage”.

And that is exactly it, to dare is to summon your courage so that it is stronger than your fear and to take action in spite of not knowing the outcome.

When you think about it, this is exactly what successful leaders and investors do.

Leaders summon their courage, take calculated chances, and continually live outside of their comfort zone. Leaders by their very definition are not followers.

Successful investors – and leaders – are daring. They consistently summon the courage of their convictions to go against the herd. They have the guts to buy when everyone else is selling and to sell when everyone else is piling in.

When was the last time someone dared you to do something? I would hazard a guess that it’s been awhile, maybe even as far back as grade school, or possibly college, depending on your peer group.

If someone dared you to make a million dollars, would you try it? Would you even attempt to do it? What if someone dared you to make just an extra $1000 in one month, would you do it? Would you at least try to do it? What if someone dared you to learn and make just one new investment or trade before the end of the next quarter in an entirely new asset class, would you do it?

I hope so!

It seems that as we “grow up”, somewhere along the way our lives become filled with responsibilities and with all of the things we feel we “must” do, instead of with the things we feel “inspired” to do or “dare” to do or “dream” to do.

We settle in, watch the nightly news, faithfully contribute to our 401k’s, talk about the stock market with our co-workers and neighbors, and tend to the responsibilities of everyday life. Rarely do we dare to do anything different or to challenge the status quo.

Daring becomes a forgotten game of childhood, something relegated only to our memories.

But this is a mistake!

In order to be a successful investor, you must dare. Dare to live your life differently from your co-workers, dare to go against the grain of herd mentality, dare to take a chance and to try new ways of doing things, dare to take a stand on issues that are important to you, and most importantly, dare to be different and to challenge the status quo.

In investing, daring to be different is known as being a contrarian.

Contrarian investors are those lucky few who realized in 1999 that “irrational exuberance” meant that you should sell all of your technology stocks at the top of the market (or who like Warren Buffett never entered that frothy market at all).

Contrarian investors had the courage and the guts to stay out of the amped up housing market in 2004 – 2006 when “everyone” seemed to be successfully flipping houses and making a killing in real estate.

Contrarian investors dared to buy gold and silver back in 2002 – 2003, when most people thought they were crazy.

Contrarian investors today wisely question the herd mentality of systematically contributing to their 401k’s and “hoping” that it will be enough for the future. They seek out alternative investments and viewpoints, challenge the status quo, and always think for themselves.

But what about you? Do you want to live an inspiring, daring life? Do you remember the exciting feeling of playing that game of “I Dare You”?

If so, then I have a challenge for you…

I Dare You to become a contrarian, to buy when no one’s interested, and to sell when everyone wants in. Go on contributing to your 401k if you must, but seek out new investment ideas and always think for yourself.

I Dare You to become a business owner or entrepreneur rather than or in addition to an employee, to reap the bountiful rewards of owning your own business, including time freedom, no income ceiling, control over your circumstances, control over your taxes, control over your life, and so much more.

I Dare You to become a leader, not a follower. I dare you to stand for something, make your life be about something, to mean something to the world and stand up for what you believe in. Search for your purpose, live from your soul, love from your heart, and inspire others to do the same. The world needs good leaders; the world needs you now more than ever.

Most importantly, I Dare You to discover your unique brilliance and share it with the world.

“I Dare You, who think life is humdrum, to become involved. I dare you who are weak to be strong; you who are dull to be sparkling; you who are slaves to be kings. I Dare You, whoever you are, to share with others the fruits of your daring. Catch a passion for helping others and a richer life will come back to you!” – William H. Danforth, I Dare You!

[Ed. Note. Susan Fujii won the I Dare You leadership award back in high school and though the monetary award was tiny, the impact on her life has been huge. To this day she recommends William H. Danforth’s book, “I Dare You!”. You can learn more about Susan and receive her personal finance wisdom for free at www.KungFuFinance.com]