The Notorious and Ferocious

Photo: The Notorious and Ferocious

May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.

- An excerpt from a poem by John O’Donohue, called A Morning Offering.

It reminds me of a statement from an Australian palliative care nurse named Bronnie Ware. Bronnie spent years assisting people in their death process and recording the most common regrets people had from their death bed.

Her most heard statement?

I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Many of us will lie on our deathbeds believing we had held back from the life we really desired. For fear, judgement, and social expectations, most never step into whom they want to be.

This is really powerful.

Fear has utility. Fear is probably why we are here today - our ancestors were more sensitive to fear than their peers, who subsequently didn’t live to procreate. But this creates a flaw in modern human behaviour - our biological response to crossing a river at night is the same as walking on stage in front of a crowd. It feels the same, but not all fear is equal.

It is important (and difficult) to determine what fear has utility and what fear has futility.

I know that I act bolder when I surround myself with bold people. I act more conservative when conservative people surround me.

But if I can’t surround myself with the boldest or bravest, it pays to remember where I am from.

Where am I from?

I am descended from the Ulster Warriors of Northern Ireland. They dominated the region for nearly 1000 years and, still, today, are some of the most notorious characters in Irish folklore for their renowned ferocity and bravery.

Before that, my bloodline traces to The Vandals, an East Germanic tribe that gained notoriety for their sacking of Rome in 455 AD.

Before that, my lineage goes to Greece and the Spartans. At the age of seven, they were separated from their families and placed into a military-style training program known as the Agoge, designed to mould boys into fierce and disciplined warriors.

And before all that… likely the Vinčas, Starčevos, or the Varnas, who dominated the Balkans 10,000 years ago, before written records.

Is any of this a certainty? No. I have done a handful of genetic and DNA tests to gain hints of my legacy. Does the accuracy matter? It does not. Because if not the above Celtic and Germanic tribes, I descended from comparable ones.

I am descended from thousands of years of warriors. They created me. They created you too.

They may have been Bushido Samurais, graduates of the Genpuku ceremony who had to prove their physical prowess, courage and loyalty at the age of twelve.

They might have been Maasai Warriors, who went through the Eunoto at ten years old, spending months in seclusion and training, only allowed to return when they could demonstrate their strength and agility to the tribe.

They could be Navajo, pushed through the Kinaalda or Naat’áanii ceremonies, forced to run barefoot for days without any food to prove their endurance and toughness.

Whichever corner we look, we all descended from warriors. And the further back we look, the closer we all become.

The petty differences that divide us are as irrelevant as the petty fears that hold us back.

We get hung up on petty things.

Staring at our ancestry makes me appreciate the common threads that bind us together rather than what pulls us apart.

We are bigger than judgemental eyes, jealous scorn, and spiteful thoughts.

We are built of thousands of years of bravery and boldness.

Below are some updates on investment portfolio allocations and where I am putting capital to work.

I will share a few thoughts on my key takeaways from this week’s essay.

And as always, I will share my Sovereign Life Blueprint - my Holy Grail of business, family and personal planning...

Keep reading with a 7-day free trial

Subscribe to Jay’s Newsletter to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.

Start trial

A subscription gets you:

The Deep Dive - The Most Important Signals in Business, Finance and Culture.
Portfolio Allocation and Rationale
The Sovereign Life Blue Print