in reverb10

So Long, Security

Have you ever done something just to be safe? Ever regretted not taking a risk when you could have, because you were afraid of failing? Afraid of stumbling and falling? Afraid of someone else telling you “I told you so”?

Of course. I’ve been there – we’ve all been there. We like security – inherently, we crave it. And, from a very early age, we’re told to “play it safe” – it’s indoctrinated into our psyche to follow a very clear path.

Go to school. Get a job. Get married. Have babies. Retire. Die.

Well, damn, when you summarize it that way, it sounds pretty depressing, don’t it? That’s because it is.

Living a life “inside the box” was something I knew I wanted no part of from a very early age. Sure, all of those “steps” above sound nice, but if you’re life is defined by one sentence, you’re life is pretty dull.

That’s why I’ve always hated elevator pitches (and I’m horrible at giving them). I can’t ever seem to find a way to sum up who I am, or what I do in a few words. There’s much more to me than that - just like there’s much more to you. Besides, who ever decided that the proper response to “what do you do?” was to immediately start spitting out a job title?

Safe is safe

It’s all safe. And safe is, well, safe. It’s comfortable. It’s a regular paycheck. It’s easy to describe at Thanksgiving dinner when the entire family is asking what you do.

This year was anything but safe for me. I had the security blanket ripped away from me when I lost my “secure” job in January and then, cold and shivering, away from my blanky, I somehow kept moving forward.

That’s the funny thing about security – you only think you need it until you don’t need it. And once you don’t have it, once you’re “fall-back” is missing, that’s when you can really start living – because everything is on your own terms – through insecurity and risk, you can create your own security.

So that’s the moral, that’s the take-away. Secure and “safe” may sound nice – but is that security really what matters most to you? Are you personally fulfilled and excited about that security? If not, start taking risks. Take a flying leap every now and then. Think about the worst case scenario, if the risk doesn’t pay off…

Odds are, the “worst thing that could happen” isn’t as bad as you think – and even if you stumble and fall a few times along the way, you’ll be doing something you weren’t doing before. Living.

(This post is part of the month-long #reverb10 event)

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  1. “Odds are, the “worst thing that could happen” isn’t as bad as you think – and even if you stumble and fall a few times along the way, you’ll be doing something you weren’t doing before. Living.”

    I think I’ve said almost these exact words over the past year, after it took me 25 years to actually figure that out. Congrats on taking risks, it’s a much bigger step than most people realize until they have to do it too.

    • Yes. Once you embrace your worst case scenario, you come to realize that it’s not nearly as bad as you probably were telling yourself that it was. It’s an extremely “freeing” experience and it opens up the opportunity to do amazing things. Thanks for coming by, MK!

  2. Letting go has been one of the most difficult things to do for me in recent years, but it definitely has made me aware of the fact that security is subjective. I’ve been quite lucky to discover just who and what was there to make it easier to let go.

    Taking that jump is important; realizing that you have to let go of what you expected and accept the support that’s out there – that’s hard.

    • Agreed, Andre – letting go of what’s comfortable is never, ever easy – and I hope this post doesn’t come across that way. I’m not suggesting that it’s easy – but the risk, the challenge, is worth the reward. It’s putting yourself out there, trying new things and letting go of some of the old ones that really defines us. Cheers!

  3. What a fantastic and insightful post, Matt. This small quote from your post resonates with me. “Start taking risks. Take a flying leap every now and then. Think about the worst case scenario, if the risk doesn’t pay off…”

    I’ve been fortunate to come across several people, who have given me amazing, unsolicited life and career advice. My philosophy for everything I do can be summed up by one phrase that my high school science teacher told me, “Don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone.” This one phrase has never once left me. It’s the reason I went to college 1,500 miles away from “my home,” the reason I studied abroad in college, the reason why as a young professional I will always say yes to new and challenging opportunities.

    When you take that flying leap out of your comfort zone, it’s when you truly find yourself and what you are capable of. For instance, I never thought I would be able to leave my friends and family behind for four months to travel to London. But, I am so glad I did. It’s one of the best experiences to date. It is experiences like this one that continue to push me outside of my comfort zone and take those calculated risks. It’s so hard but usually like you said, the worst case scenario isn’t as bad as you thought.

    • Say hello to one of my favorite posts –>

      We should never be afraid to step outside our comfort zone and try something new. It’s moments that you run instead of walking, full speed ahead that are the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. That’s what living a passionate life is all about, getting the most out of it and not being worried what others think or what could happen if it doesn’t work our perfectly.

      Embrace the awkward looks, the naysayers, and the haters – use it as motivation and go do something amazing!

  4. I remember taking major leaps with no safety net, so well worth it. It’s funny, as time passes, you get comfortable once again in that “security blanket”. Inspiring post, makes me think we can take that leap we keep talking about!

    • Yes – you do get comfortable if you’ve been doing something for too long – this is why I always have a “project” – I always have SOMETHING to work toward or accomplish – it’s a blessing and a curse because relaxation is at a premium – but it keeps me fresh, it keeps me motivated, and it keeps me from becoming overly complacent and take for granted where I am right now.

  5. Such a great post – I have plenty of friends who don’t get that safe isn’t all that safe, because so few things are “guaranteed,” much like your secure job. Congratulations on learning how to rely on yourself in 2010!

    • Nothing is guaranteed. If there’s nothing else I’ve learned this year – that’s the one thing I’ve taken away. Settling for something because it’s safe is only safe until it’s gone. I’d rather have my hands on the reigns, in control of my own path, then have one laid out for me…But I understand that the path I’ve taken isn’t for everyone – and there’s nothing wrong with that. The only time you’re settling is if you complain about your situation, but aren’t doing anything at all to make it better.

      Thanks for the comment and for coming by!

  6. Awesome post, Matt…I have a question would you have risked it all had the “security blanket” not been ripped away from you? I guess I am asking myself this question as well :/

    • Great question. The short answer is “Yes, but I don’t know when”. I had been talking about taking the leap but honestly, I was afraid – afraid of the risk and that things wouldn’t pan out. I think hitting the “bottom” like I did when I lost my job was the best thing that could have ever happend to me. It forced me to put things into perspective, and most importantly, it forced me to hustle – because I had to. I had to work very hard to put myself into a good position and since then, there’s been no looking back.