You Never Get Anywhere by Playing it Safe

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

We often find ourselves in a place where things aren’t going quite the way we’d planned. That may be due to no real fault of our own, but as I’ve mentioned before, when we sit still the world moves past us. Before long, we find ourselves sitting in the same place with no momentum and that much further behind. We can catch up, but it’ll take a lot more effort than if we’d just kept moving in the first place.

It happens on the job, where demands change and what we were hired to do no longer meets the “needs of the company.” It happens in relationships where people grow, and we don’t always grow along with them. And it happens in life, where time never stands still and every year, we find ourselves with one year less to accomplish our goals.  

That last one has been on my mind a lot. In two months, I’ll reach the age of “early retirement.” That’s where the government says you can start drawing Social Security, but only if you don’t make any real money on the side. In another four and a half years, I’ll reach the age of full retirement. I won’t go into what that entails, except to say I’m not where I wanted to be by this point.

I think we all face that sooner or later. You wake up one morning and realize you’re not where you wanted to be on the corporate ladder. You drive past an area of nicer homes and remember when that was your dream. Or winter comes along and you repeat your annual pledge that by this time next year, you’ll be living someplace warm. You know, the same one you repeated last year.

And through all of it, you have to admit the reality that you’re where you are because this is where you’ve worked to be. It may not be exactly where you wanted to end up, but I think we can all admit we’ve left a little on the table in that regard and taken a breather when we could have done just a little more. All those undone things keep stacking up until one day, we have to pay the piper.

I know there are things in my past that I could have done differently. And when I look back, what stands out the most aren’t the risks I took where the outcome wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, but the opportunities I passed up or simply didn’t work to their full advantage. There’s some level of risk in everything, but risk alone doesn’t stop us from moving forward – it’s fear that stands in our way.

We’ve all heard the expression, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” A baseball field has three places where a player can stand safely and wait for an opportunity to advance. Oh, they may taunt the pitcher by stepping out a little, but let the pitcher turn their way and they take a dive in the dirt, back to the safety of their base. They’re stuck in that position unless somebody else gets lucky.

And you know, after you’ve hit the ball and raced as fast as you can to beat the odds, it’s nice to be standing safely on base. But you can’t stand there forever. Sooner or later, you either have to move forward or wait for everyone else to fail so you can put on your glove and take up a position where your only mission in life is to keep somebody else from advancing.

Sure, people may remember that magnificent diving catch that prevented somebody else from getting on base, but in baseball there are no real statistics to reflect how many times you caught a fly ball. All anybody cares about is your batting average – how many times did you swing and hit the ball far enough to get on base?

We all face opportunities to hit that ball. Every time you step up to the plate, there’s one thing you can count on – there will be a pitch coming, and it’ll be coming fast. We can either watch as that opportunity sails past or do something about it. The choice we make in that instant will determine whether we bring the crowd to its feet or take that lonely walk back to the dugout.

Sure, you may swing and miss. But you’ll never hit anything with the bat resting comfortably on your shoulder.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day.

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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