I Surrender

Recently by James Altucher: Being Unpredictable Will Free You

I was going to go out of business or get sued.

I had just started my fund of hedge funds and on our fourth month in business our main investor said, “I’m going out of business and I need my money back.” Apparently he had never told HIS investors that he was putting money in a fund of funds and he had promised them their money back right away. I couldn’t give him his money back for at least a year. He had given me around $20 million.

I had to do something.

I Was Blind But Now I ... James Altucher Best Price: $4.50 Buy New $2.49 (as of 02:40 EDT - Details)

I couldn’t sleep at night. My lawyer said, “why don’t you just shut down” and I was screaming back, “this is my LIFE! I don’t want to shut down.” I would wake up and think to myself, “why am I here YET AGAIN!” I would wake up and feel a clenching in my chest and I would think, “can I ever protect my family? Can I just once be happy?”

We all decided to meet in my lawyer’s office. The investor had a tic that made his entire face crunch up every few seconds. Like a piece of paper you want to throw out because it’s a bill you can’t pay. The meeting with my lawyer ended up with the investor throwing a chair at the lawyer and then running out of the office.

He was scared. His CFO quit because he thought the investor was up to illegal activity. Let me tell you something: every hedge fund is a crime. Of the 13 hedge funds I invested in maybe 12 were engaged in some sort of criminal activity when I look back on it.

But I was afraid to go out of business. I had a family to feed. I didn’t want this investor suing me, nor did I want to give him his money back since he had committed it for a year and it was now gone, invested in 13 other hedge funds that would not give me the money back for a year (that’s standard practice).

The Tao of Star Wars John M. Porter Best Price: $140.40 Buy New $5,000.00 (as of 11:15 EDT - Details)

So, I kid you not, I bought a book, The Tao of Star Wars. And I re-watched all the Star Wars movies. I think I bought, in total, three books about “The Force”. I meditated every day.

I surrendered.

It’s hard to “surrender”. We’re not used to that. We go for the FRONTIER. We win wars! When I was a kid we were taught that “the US has never lost a war”. Somehow in 12 years of schooling, we never learned about Vietnam. We always seemed to run out of time by the end of the school year.

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“Surrender” also has religious connotations. Most people I know went to graduate school of some sort. Grad school warps your brain. There should be “un-Grad” schools that get your brain back into balance. Grad school intensifies your brain into a very specific area, whatever area it is, and that’s enforced by the fact that all the people around you are being warped as well. Thank god I got thrown out of graduate school.

But the word “surrender” makes people think of things that are very un-academic, even un-intelligent. Giving up with out a fight.

But I decided to surrender to this science fiction movie. Star Wars. “I can’t raise $20 million overnight,” I would say. “So I’ll do whatever you tell me to do and it will be ok. I give up.”

Which doesn’t mean I just lied around in bed all day. I did everything I could to raise money. But I wasn’t going to stress on it. Every day I meditated and would conclude with, “I give up. I’m going to do all I can do. But I give it up to the Force to get me into the right situation.” And I felt better after saying it. I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore.