Safe is the New Risky

Several times in the last few days I have been bombarded with the message that playing it safe is perhaps the riskiest choice you can make. The really hip way to say it is — Safe is the New Risky! Usually when I hear or read the same message several times over a short period of time, I find it is the universe trying to tell me something. So I’m tuning in to listen.

Let me throw out a few examples from the past week to illustrate the point. Then, I’ll talk a little about why I believe playing it safe is more risky than taking a risk.

I am currently re-listening to the marketing tome Purple Cow by Seth Godin . In it he talks about being remarkable in your business if you wish to stand out and succeed. He gives numerous examples of companies who because they chose to play it safe and not make any significant changes got blown away by the more innovative and risk tolerant competition. For example, at one point in time Maxwell House was the king of coffee. They did what they always did in terms of marketing and product. Along came Starbucks. When you think of coffee today, what comes to mind first – Maxwell House or Starbucks? Enough said…

On Tuesday, I started a new book for bedtime reading — Walking Home by Kelly Winters. Quite frankly I should call it “staying up later than you should be” rather than bedtime reading because the book is so compelling to me. I have only gotten started, but already it is frightfully clear that her stand for life is that playing it safe is deadly. Early in her journey thru hiking the Appalachian Trail she muses on the fact that many people are fearful camping or walking the trails in the dark alone. Yet, she wonders how many of these same people could be sitting at home, “safe” and watching TV yet dying from the inside out because they have cancer or another potentially terminal disease and don’t even know it. Passing up an opportunity to truly live life because you’re afraid isn’t “safe”, it is regretful.
Today, once again, the message shows up in my world. I stumbled upon a blog post about stepping outside your comfort zone and not playing it safe. In a post recapping her experience at the recent Blogher conference, Daily Dose of Denise talks about the courage to approach and invite yourself into a clique.

I know that cliques make many women feel bad about themselves. I know the “outsiders” can feel like they aren’t wanted or respected. Take my advice, please. Step into the cliques. I know it is hard and you might be shy or unsure of yourself, but do it. I crashed a lot of circles and there was not a single time when I felt unwanted or unappreciated. Not one single person was rude. Not one single person made me feel like I did not belong. NOT ONE. Take a risk, step into that tight knit group of people. Shake hands. Offer hugs. Ask questions. Ask for cards. Give your own cards. You will be accepted and appreciated. Cliques aren’t bad unless you allow them to be.

Many women, me included, would initially balk at being bold and stepping into a group of close-knit strangers. Yet, if Denise had played it safe, she would’ve missed out on connecting with new people and fully experiencing the conference. How many times have you chosen to stay small rather than stepping up and connecting with other people because of your own fear?

What all three of these examples have in common is that to be successful and experience life fully you need to take risks. In fact I’d hazard a guess that most really successful people take risks each and every day. Whether it is making a cold call, confronting a difficult family member, or coming out to someone, moving forward is all about taking risks. When you play it safe you avoid change. Without change there is no growth. And if you’re not willing to grow, you may as well be dead and six feet under.

Isn’t Risky Dangerous?

A lot of times people equate risky with dangerous. For the most part, it is not so. If someone told me they wanted to jump out of a plane without a parachute, that would be downright stupid and dangerous. Yet, if the same person had a dream of jumping out of a plane and said they wanted to parachute with a trained guide, that wouldn’t be dangerous, but it would be a calculated risk. As in any aspect of life, an accident could happen, but for the most part living life isn’t dangerous. After all, you could choose to never leave your house because you wanted to play it safe and drop dead of an aneurysm or fall down the steps and break your neck. Playing it safe does not stop bad things from happening to you but it most certainly blocks great experiences and things from coming into your life.

Taking a calculated, intelligent risk isn’t dangerous. Apply some planning, instinct, and common sense, and taking a risk is simply making the choice to choose differently than you would if you let fear, doubt, and playing it safe rule your actions.

Are You Playing it Safe?

While I am totally for keeping YOU safe and sound, I believe playing it safe can be the most stifling thing you can do for your ultimate happiness and success. I know this because I can think of countless ways I have played it safe in the past and wish I didn’t. I can also still list ways where I am playing it way too safe if I expect to make my dreams come true.

So ask yourself:

  • Where in your life/business are you playing it safe?
  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • How can you build your risk-taking muscle each and every day? (Example: talk to someone new you don’t know, take a bold action you have been avoiding, or set a stronger boundary between work and play)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on playing it safe as well as stories about how you took a risk which led to positive outcomes in your life. Please share some by posting a comment below….

tags:
lesbian , lesbian business owners,LGBT ,GLBT ,success

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Comments

  1. brilliant piece of work here paula! wow – thank you for this reminder to 'live full out'!

    lots of folks think risk has to mean somethin 'big' like jumping out of a plane. however, i think stretching oneself can be done anywhere, anytime. w/o even lifing a finger sometimes… 🙂

  2. Barbara Welte says:

    Great article.I'm here in my store wondering what I should do should I close the doors and get a weekly paycheck or should I risk it and keep striving for sucess.Well I think I just got my answer.I need to risk a little more to make the sucess story I'm looking for.
    Thank You!

  3. Thanks Barb — Appreciate your comments as always!

    Sometimes risky is just getting the guts to take the chance and walk up to someone you don't know and say hi.

    When you string the little things together….it can amount to a huge difference in your life or business.

  4. Hi Barb W — I just realized as I was replying that I have 2 Barb's to reply to…..

    Thanks for your comments. Oftentimes with taking a risk we assume it is all or nothing. Either I stay open for business or close up shop and ditch the dream. As you tap into your goals also take a few minutes to tap into the cold hard facts like money flow. I get the sense from your post that you're feeling some pull toward a paycheck. Is it because money is tight right now? Is it fear? Consider — Is there something you may need to do in the short term to bridge the gap in terms of cash flow?

    Sometimes risk is taking bold action toward our dreams and sometimes it is about balancing it with some intermediary, less risky steps so that in the long run you can have what you want with less struggle…

Trackbacks

  1. Coaching4Lesbians » Carnival of Bent Attractions - August 2006 EditionInspiring Lesbian Business Owners and Professionals to Achieve Success without Burnout and Compromise says:

    […] I wanted to throw my own hat in the ring with my recent Safe is the New Risky post. As someone who has been somewhat risk-averse much of my life (adventure sports notwithstanding), I find myself reconsidering what it means to be safe or secure. I also point out one of the common misconceptions of taking a risk — it doesn’t have to be like jumping out of a plane. Sometimes the risk to simply be yourself is all it takes to reap a harvest of benefits. […]

  2. Transcending Gender » August’s Carnival of Bent Attractions is posted! says:

    […] One of my favorite posts in this month’s round-up was by Andy of The Spicy Cauldron regarding Mel Gibson’s latest incident. Another fav was Paula’s post on risk and safety. […]

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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