What to Say When People Tell You to Play it Safe


Conventional wisdom tells us:

“You should go to college.”

“You need to pick a major that makes money.”

“Business is always a solid choice.”

“It may be a desk job, but at least it’s comfortable right?”

“Don’t rock the boat.”

Most of these people who tell us this come from a place of love. After all, they want the best for us, right? I've got a nephew who I couldn't imagine putting through any pain.

The downside of this over-protection is that it’s a confused message. What happens is that people confuse pain with risk. Protecting people from risk does not protect people from pain.

Not by a long shot.

Think about it this way — if you've had a good friend who’s ever gone through a breakup, you know what their first reaction is, right?

“I’ll never date again.”

Which translates to:

“I’ll never take a risk again.”

In truth, some of them never do.

It goes without saying, though, that some things in life simply take risk. Frankly, a lot of the “safe” things in life take risk too.

It is a risk to sit behind your desk and hope your company will keep you around.

It is a risk to wait around and hope social security is going to cover you later.

It is a risk to keep doing what you’re doing just because that’s how things should be done.

In fact, there is not a pure risk-free move on the planet.

If you are plotting your life right now and are afraid to follow what you want to do because you don’t want to fail, consider this:

The world always needs plumbers.

The world always needs HVAC specialists.

The world always needs Comcast technicians to bless people with the gift of the Internet.

I promise you, if your dream doesn't work out, there are plenty of trades to fall back on. You could rake someone’s leaves. You could mow yards. You could lay brick.

All of these things can happen without much training, time, effort, or money. If you had to do one of those things, you could.

I choose to take my shot, to run after what I want to do, to stay up late and get up early.

I choose to go after my dreams, to get my heart broken, to cry, to lose sleep.

I choose to love with reckless abandon, to pour everything into my craft, to trust.

I hope you do too.

Go for it now.

We can all be plumbers later.

Like all good artists, I stole the phrase “we can all be plumbers later.” A co-worker spit it out whenever he was telling me about encouraging his son to pursue a career in music. May all fathers be as aware as he is.