“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A Shedd
Recently a friend and I sat down to catch up. One of the questions I wanted to make sure and ask him as our conversation continued was what he thought about some of the more recent videos I had been releasing on YouTube about helping guys to not suck at relationships. He’s always been an excellent sounding board in helping me to figure out my message, and I knew I was in for a solid answer. Before he shared his thoughts, I looked at him and said “Be honest with me. Don’t hold anything back.”
“It’s safe,” he said. “You’re being safe.”
It’s so freaking easy to be safe
You and I live in a world where it’s easy to be safe. It’s not the same as being complacent or content. I’m talking about being safe. Safety, the way I understood it as my friend shared more with me was doing what comes easy or natural.
Whether we choose to recognize it or not, you and I have been taught our entire lives to do what comes easy or natural to us. To a certain degree, we should follow along that path. It’s the path where we discover how we are wired, shaped and formed. It’s the path where we find out what comes naturally to us. Those are paths we should pay attention to and stay on. But even on those paths, we should never tread at the expense of not being safe.
Bing. Bang. Boom
Allow me to use myself as an example. My specific question to my friend was what he thought about videos I was releasing out into the world on YouTube. I recorded most of my videos in one take (or five), around 3 minutes in length and without a script of any kind. I would memorize the outline, hit record and go to town. For me, that’s a pretty easy task. Bing. Bang. Boom.
But what I didn’t realize before but see now after my friend’s timely wisdom was that all of what I was doing was safe. It was so safe, in fact, that it often didn’t sound like the true me.
Being safe is what you and I are up against. When you and I produce safe art, it won’t sound like us. Blog posts, videos, podcasts, painting, poetry, books, short stories, you name it. When we’re safe, it won’t sound like us.
The life work you and I were meant to produce will not come from being safe. It will come with high pressure and us taking risks.
I’m quitting my job in 2018, and I couldn’t be more excited. I didn’t make this decision on a whim without a lot of prayer, thoughts, and conversations with wise people. But this decision also wasn’t made in a safe environment, either. In fact, it was all done in the name of me declaring —
“I’m tired of playing it safe. This comfort has to go.”
I don’t always get it right, but right now I couldn’t feel more exhilarated than what I do right now about the future. Here’s what I am learning along the way.
Before you can take risks, you need people who will be honest with you.
You’ve likely heard the phrase “There is safety in numbers.” It is an absolute truth. One I would never challenge. But I am going to go you one further. There is also risk in numbers, too. Life will often be risky when we can get the right people around us. It will change the way we live.
Not too long ago, I decided not to allow people in my life who were only going to speak “Atta boy!” to me. Yes, I need people who will encourage me. But more importantly, I need people who are going to be honest with me.
Before we exit the safe zone and start taking risks with our art, we need people who are going to be honest with us about where we are. If there is anything I am learning about the content I am producing it is this: those closest to me will always see angles I can’t.
What my friend shared with me was a perfect example. I was being safe.
If I were to poll each of you reading this, I can guarantee you would say that you don’t want to play it safe. You want to take risks. You know they are worth the reward. Which leads me into what else I am learning.
You need to know where safe is for you
After my friend told me I was being safe, I didn’t let him off the hook. I had to hear more so I could figure out where safe was for me. The more him and I talked, the further I understood it.
Safe, for me, is getting up in front of a camera without sharing my story or being the slightest bit vulnerable. Safe for me is just teaching, making a point and moving on in hopes that anyone who happens to be listening will just take my advice and go about their lives. My safety lacks transparency, and it’s keeping me from who I honestly am.
Maybe it’s the same for you.
No matter what it may be, identify it and deal with it. Do the hard work to get to where you can navigate the safety zone and learn to avoid it at all costs.
There is a better life waiting for you, and here it is:
The Best risks are formed around who you truly are
God, The Almighty and Powerful Creator of the Universe, did not create us to live safe lives. He didn’t make us so unique so we would get all comfy cozy in the safe zone.
In fact, the more I think about it, the louder my laugh gets. It’s borderline comical to believe we should live our lives in comfort. It’s tragic to consider never trying on the pair of wings God has given us and watch ourselves fly. Life was not meant to be lived on the ground or in the nest. It’s time for us to go.
God designed each of us in such a way so we would step confidently out into the world and show them who we are — not in safety, but in true unadulterated risk.
A significant reason why our world lives in darkness is that people aren’t stepping out and living as God designed them to be. I believe that with all of my heart. Because of our inability to take risks within ourselves, the world lacks the light and joy that will pull us out of our mess and into the world God longs for this place to be.
Safety has become the new plague we need to overcome. We have found too much comfort here. We find too much comfort in hiding who we are and release art into the world that is safe.
So, how now must we live?
It’s simple. Start finding others who will be honest with you. Find a truth teller — someone who is not afraid to pull any punches about your work. Ask them if you are being safe. In knowing and loving you, they will know what to say.
From there, start to make small adjustments in your life and work. Don’t do it all at once. It will throw you. Start with one small thing and see what happens.
Here’s my prediction: You will grow like crazy. And, oh, your art will too.
Welcome to the world as you.
Visit Ben at BenWeaver.org