Do you dream about the day when all your debt will be paid off and you’ll feel safe again?
I did that!
Four years ago, faced with a consumer debt of $160,000 I mourned my safety and feared the risks to my family this meant.
Then I forgot to be safe and started living an exciting life.
I changed the way we spend.
I changed the way we manage our finances.
I learned about money, finance and business.
I stood at the bottom of a snowy hill asking to buy ski-passes (now, this is so outside my comfort zone).
I started a blog.
I became a ‘fly hustler’.
I ran marathons.
I felt excited and invigorated; life coursing through me body.
Now we have no consumer debt and I want to feel safe again.
I want to have no mortgage.
I want to have a lot of money in the bank.
I want our investments to be safe.
I want to know what the future holds.
Is it only me who is engaged in this pursuit of safety?
Because I somehow doubt that. Our Western culture has become obsessed with safety. We get warned that:
- Stones may fall off rocks;
- We may drown in water;
- Suffocate if we put a plastic bag around our head; and
- Peanut butter may contain nuts.
On our holiday I’ve watched kids in the swimming pool that have floating jackets, arm bands and floating ring. How are they going to learn to swim?
I’ve had visions of the beauty of the cliffs being tarnished by nets, crash barriers and handrails. How are we to appreciate the beauty in nature?
And I’ve stared at the sea, willing my son to come out so that he is safe at my side. I know he is a strong swimmer and I know that he is very careful; I still want him next to me. How is he going to become a man?
All this obsession with safety and we are as exposed as ever.
Because, as the authors of Freakonomics convincingly demonstrated, we humans are notoriously bad at assessing and judging risk. We are worried that our airplane will crash when it is more likely to be hit by a car.
Safety is alluring. It is also the antidote of risk, excitement and progress.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, the saying goes.
There are four situations when it is better to ignore ‘being safe’ and take the risk of being sorry. These are when:
Being safe is in the way of new experience
Expanding our experience of the world – natural and social, personal and organisational – is vital for our existence, success and enjoyment in life.
Trying a new hobby, dabbing in a new activity, tasting an unusual dish, experiencing a different culture are the things that keep us interested, interesting and invigorated.
Let’s do something we’ve never done today!
James Altucher asked for 10% discount. I’ll go snorkelling in the sea.
What are you going to do?
Being safe is in the way of learning
Our pursuit of being safe can be in the way of our learning. There is a lot of deceptive security in tried and tested knowledge. Why learn something new, why keep our minds open, why explore and acquire new competencies and skills when we know.
Being knowledgeable, being an expert is safe. Unfortunately it is the kind of safety that can lead to spectacular downfalls. In consulting, being safe and sticking with a painfully familiar usually means that you are to run out of business very soon.
Learning and adapting to the changing streams of life is what keeps us on top four-game personally and professionally.
When was the last time you learned something new?
Being safe reduces quality of life
Every time I keep safe I rob my life quality.
Because the quality of our lives is about fun and joy. Keeping overly safe is just another way to say that our lives are steeped in routines and boredom.
It is safe to swallow your opinion at work; it is safe to watch adventure on TV and never explore the world; it is safe to stay within your comfort zone.
You know, when we live safe and boring lives, we don’t live longer. It only seems so.
What are the things that bring excitement to your life?
Being safe is in the ways of your dreams
Worst of all, being overly safe can be in the way of our dreams.
I am well versed in that. Just look what’s happening to my dreams:
|I want to spend a month in a Flamenco Dancing School in Spain learning to dance from Gypsy dancers.||I’m staying safe in my house and watch videos about dancing.|
|I want to ride a motorbike across the United States||I’m staying safe by postponing doing what is needed; my son doesn’t believe we’ll ever do it|
|I want to walk 300 kilometres of the Santiago de Compostela route||I’m keeping safe on a beach in Portugal|
|I want to run the Comrades, a 51 mile race in South Africa.||I’ve succumbed to the fear of injury rather than focus on training smart and hard|
|I want to write novels||Haven’t started yet; it feels safe to dream but what if I couldn’t hack it?|
A life well lived is a balance between being safe and risking being sorry.
Lured into a pursuit of safety, we risk limiting our experience, impeding our learning, reducing our quality of life and forfeiting our dreams.
And don’t want to go through the rest of my life without testing my limits: in running, writing and adventure.