China, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Motivation

The Other Side of Fear: Regret for The Risks Not Taken

Will I be able to lead a life of regret?

The most powerful reason that helped me make a decision to start a business was related to one other type of fear. It was this question: ‘If I don’t take the risk now, will I be able to lead a life of regret?’ I tried to imagine myself in my 60ies, even in my 70ties. Would I be happy that I had led a meaningful and fulfilled life with purpose, or would I be one of the “living dead” who feels miserable about the fact that I had wasted a life of opportunity. Would I be able to lead a peaceful life when I become old, and not regret the fact that I didn’t take action when it was time to do so, when opportunity presented itself?


When I get old, will I still be able to make up for lost dreams?

The fear of failure has killed many dreams and prevented people from taking action. In reality, if you start a business and fail, you will almost always have the opportunity to go back to the 9-5 job and restart life. However, the opposite is not always likely. When you are older, you probably won’t have that same youthful energy and passion to pursue your dreams. Most in their old age seek to strike a balance by leading a peaceful life. The last thing one might want to be doing at that age is to add further complications to their life by starting a business.

What if Death catches me unprepared?

If one decides to avoid risk at all cost, regret will set in. Regret will become a shadow that follows them throughout their life. As the end of life approaches people often become increasingly afraid of it, not realizing that death isn’t to be feared. On the contrary, death is just like all the other normal parts of life, ex: birth, going to school, going to work, getting married. Yet still many people are terrified of dying. Those who only aim at maintaining stability, seldom take risks to do anything meaningful with their lives, yet strive to prolong their lives or “live forever”, are those who fear death the most. In many ways this fear of death is actually a fear of coming to terms with oneself and the many things that have been left unfinished, unachieved, or were passed by.

We never know when life is going to end, and there are no second chances. Instead we’d better take action and do something meaningful with our lives.

What can possibly feel more painful than death itself?

We created our mascot Mort as a momento mori, a friendly warning to make the most of life while it lasts. Mort was intentionally designed to be cute in order to redirect people’s fear of death to and encourage them to live life to the fullest. Mort, a grim reaper, is here to teach us a lesson that it’s not death that we should fear, but fear not living and enjoying our lives to the fullest. He’s meant to teach us that we shouldn’t fear him, he is little more than a public servant and like all other people who have jobs, he too needs to perform his duty. In a world that is changing rapidly, the greatest risk isn’t the one you might be reluctant to take, it’s never acting on a necessary, measured risk that would make you something greater than you are.  Having to look back on all the opportunities you never took is far more painful. Regret is what hurts more than death itself.


Learning to thrive on challenge

Exploring my insecurities prior to starting a business was a very uncomfortable process. I felt overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know. I felt I didn’t have the necessary experience to start a business. The fact that we wanted to start a business in China, a culture completely different from what we are used to in the West, didn’t make things any easier for us. Yet I decided not to hesitate and took the first step by making the decision to start.  That really was the scariest part of all, making that great leap into the unknown. Four years down the road, I don’t feel any regret. Though the possibility of failure is not completely out of the way, we’re not worried. What we’ve learned in these four years would probably have taken 50 to learn had I continued to work in a company. We faced and overcame many challenges, but they only made us more confident and persistent. I am very excited to share this experience and our stories with you through this blog.

Us with mort

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