On top of the CN Tower: Understanding how we process fear

Last week, Boris and I were in Toronto for our quarterly offsite. I suggested the CN Tower EdgeWalk as a good break from discussing all things Version One related. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the EdgeWalk, it is an attraction where participants in suits and harnesses circle the exposed top of the 356m-high CN Tower.

As you can see from the picture, we were quite high off the ground and had to perform a bunch of tricks along and over the edge. It was terrifying at first but we eventually came to enjoy the experience by overcoming fear in our own way.

Boris (the thinker) found strength by rationalizing his fears in his head. He told himself facts like “over 141,000 have done this before me and there have been zero accidents” and “walking along the edge is safer than walking on the street,” to put his mind at ease.

My approach was different. When I am determined to do something outside my comfort zone, I will my way through with breathing. This centers me and clears my mind of distractions and the fear itself, which ultimately allows me to focus solely on performing the task at hand.

When I initially made the suggestion, I thought that it would be a fun team-building activity that somehow connected to our daily “risk taking” in investing. At the time of booking, I didn’t know how they were related exactly… but upon reflecting on the experience, I realize that it provided valuable insight on how we both deal with and overcome fear.

Why is this helpful for our partnership? There are going to be times when we are nervous about making an investment because of the potential risks but by understanding how we process our fears, we can better support each other.

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