“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” – Joseph Campbell.
In 1997, I was a man poised to become a history-maker. The rate at which my financial business had grown made it necessary for me to be able to scale our technology beyond the scope of paper files in an office. I needed to be able to access client files from anywhere.
I knew the Internet presented me with the platform I needed to make my work life easier so I hired a tech genius to help me make my vision a reality. When it was all said and done, Zxmail and Virtual Desk were the result of my hard work and innovation. Zxmail was an email platform alike AOL and Yahoo!. At its height, Zxmail had about 50,000 users around the world. Virtual Desk was a bit more innovative, I think. It was a cloud-based office productivity suite that allowed users to access a digitized version of their physical client files through the Internet (think SalesForce and other CRMs). Virtual Desk was decked out with a word processor (like Google Docs or Word) and spreadsheet (like Sheets and Excel). It was the late 1990s.
This technology had me on the cutting edge of the tech world. In all reality, I should have taken it by storm. I should have been one of the richest men in the world. I should have made a historical impact that catapulted the Internet and technology forward by about 20 years. I should have been the only African American to grace the cover of Wired, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Forbes magazines simultaneously.
But none of that happened. On the contrary. I let my own fears rob me of what could have been quite a lavish destiny. When I developed Virtual Desk, I was recovering from a very public, very difficult legal battle that cost me my business, my family and almost cost me my freedom. Getting Virtual Desk the publicity and traction it deserved would have forced me out of anonymity and back into the public eye and I just couldn’t take one more witty, but hurtful headline.
Had I really pushed myself and this innovation twenty years ago when I dreamed it up, my outcome most certainly would have been very different from what it is today. I enjoy my life and I’m grateful for my opportunities – both the ones that were given to me and the ones I created for myself. But I don’t know that I would now be a real estate investor. I imagine the time I spent buying and selling hundreds of properties would likely have been invested developing better and better technologies.
What would I have become if I had fought my fears and become the Google of my time? What in the world did that fear cost me?
What has fear cost you?
This is an excerpt from my book, The F Word.