Writing with power

Here’s an example of raw, honest writing to inspire you on a Friday. Max Zeledon is one of the intellectual gems uncovered by the internet — a financial trader schooled in macroeconomics who is a former fashion photographer, who reads and writes voraciously. When not discussing toxic assets and deflation on his blog, he often segues into thoughts on human nature. Max doesn’t censor himself. Sex, love, bowel movements — it’s all there.

Max on fear:

I used to run track in college—the 400m was my specialty event but I would also run the 200m whenever they needed me to fill in for an injured teammate. Running the 200m was a nerve wrecking experience because at the college level this event is about pure power and speed—and a lot guys I faced ran it under 21 seconds. Pre-race jitters were a given for me. My heart would start to race and I would get this horrible butterflies in my stomach. It was definitely fear—fear of getting smoked in front of a huge crowd of frat boys. Taking a huge dump was mandatory and that usually helped me a bit (I felt lighter) but the anxiety symptoms were still there.

My warm-up routine helped too—stretching, jumping, knee lifts, and running in place. Another technique I used was self-talk. Track runners are known for talking to themselves before a race and the technique is all about fighting nervousness. Coaches also emphasized visualization exercises but I never really took them seriously. I think that was a mistake on my part and I blame it on youth and immaturity. But the only thing that got rid of the butterflies was the race itself. Once I got on those blocks and the gun went off, the adrenaline would take over and the only thing that mattered was making sure I was not the last guy coming out of that curve.

In retrospect, I think the jitters were a healthy form of self-awareness because they kept me alert—acutely aware of my limitations and fears. And a healthy dose of fear is a good thing both psychologically and physiologically. Outside the realm of sports, the jitters are everywhere and learning to deal with them is important because the last thing we want to do is to choke during a presentation, an important business deal or a timely stock trade.

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