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Unleashing the Power of Black Swan Events: A $30,000 Bet

Melchor Tatlonghari

Let me begin by explaining the concept of a Black Swan, and I’m not referring to the movie in which Natalie Portman starred. The term “Black Swan” was coined by Nassim Taleb in one of his books on robustness and fragility. It is used to describe phenomena that we believe to be entirely impossible until a specific event occurs, proving otherwise and making it seem plausible all along.

A couple of examples of Black Swan events are the discovery of black swans and the record-breaking speed achieved in 100m dashes. Before black swans were discovered, it was widely believed that all swans were white, and this belief went unquestioned. However, when someone found black swans in Australia, it completely shattered the notion that they were rare. This discovery made it inconceivable to continue thinking that all swans were white.

Similarly, when one athlete breaks a record in the 100m dash, it opens up the possibility for others to do so as well. These events redefine what is considered possible and disprove previous assumptions. It is this ability to challenge established beliefs and expectations that has led Taleb to refer to them as Black Swan events.

Why Betting on Yourself is the Ultimate Entrepreneurial Strategy — Melchor Tatlonghari

Chasing Serendipity

We’ve all heard stories of people quitting their jobs to pursue their dreams, facing the unknown and uncertainty. What sets my story apart is that it wasn’t just me embarking on this journey, but also my wife. We both quit our jobs, left our home country, and drastically reduced our expenses so that our dollars would last longer.

At a certain point in our lives, things stopped making sense. We earned a decent amount of money at our respective jobs, but then what? Climbing the corporate ladder didn’t seem fulfilling enough. Inflation was outpacing our efforts, and it felt like life had dialed up the difficulty level to ultra hard mode. It seemed like we were stuck on a treadmill with no end in sight — either we’d fall off exhausted or drop dead.

We weren’t keen on the idea of taking on a massive debt to buy a house that we’d be paying off for the rest of our lives — a house that employers could hold over us. I didn’t want to feel obligated to say “how high” when an employer told me to “jump” because I was drowning in expenses and couldn’t afford to say “no” out of fear of getting fired.

There had always been a lingering thought in our minds that there must be something better than enduring the rat race and signing away our lives with a mortgage. So, we made the decision to travel the world with the money we had saved, which would sustain us for about a year. We were determined to go all-in and pursue our dreams relentlessly — whatever we believed would bring us fulfillment for the rest of our lives.

Burn the Boats

It’s funny how for the first time in our lives, we didn’t have jobs but we’ve never worked as hard ever. We had skin in the game, we were going to make something of ourselves in this year or sink back down to mediocrity accepting that were doomed to be part of the rat race, and the thought of that forces us to grind every day as humanly possible without being employed. My wife is pursuing streaming and creating content on social media, whereas I’m a software engineer trying to build as much startups as I can. We had burned our boats.

“If you’re going to take the island, you have to burn the boats” — Tony Robbins

No Regret Move

I have always believed in making no-regret moves. I don’t think there will ever be a time in life when you look back and say, “I wish I hadn’t bet on myself.” This is the moment to bet on yourself, to figure out something that unlocks a potential black swan event by pursuing your dreams. How could you possibly regret that decision when you grow old?

Even if everything fails, my wife and I would have traveled the world, living with only the clothes on our backs and staying in different hostels while we pursued our dreams. We would have experienced incredible adventures before potentially returning to mediocrity. But if things go well, we would have unlocked a black swan event that forever changes our lives.

Don’t let life pass you by. Don’t wait until retirement to look back and wish you had taken a chance on yourself. At least at the end of the day, you can confidently say you gave it your all, instead of being haunted by the question of “what if?”

Digital Nomad