“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller
Recently I have been reading a book called Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown. You may have heard of it. The theme of the book is about being vulnerable, taking risks, and being willing to expose ourselves to possible failure. It’s an enlightening read.
I bring this up because what I want to share with you is that security has a price. Everyone speaks about how risk is dangerous and sometimes unthinkable. It seems that everyone wants unmitigated surety—the 100% guarantee.
But security never makes one courageous nor does it make a person’s heart sing.
We all want our bases covered, and none want to be starving or out in the land of the lost. But there is an energy about taking a risk with the possibility of failure that adds dimension to our lives and creates memories that we share with our children and grandchildren and we can ruminate over when we become old. Having everything laid out, fully unchallenged with no adversary to overcome makes for a dull story.
To make my point, I want to share with you a couple of big risks I took with my life direction over the years.
In 1971 I was 19 years old and my then-20-year-old boyfriend wanted to make an extensive summer motorcycle trip across the country from the Midwest through a semi-southern route, up the coast of California to Alaska, and back again via northern roads. This sounded like the most exciting thing I could imagine in my life at that time.
I had $400 saved and a vinyl, fleece-lined coat my father had given me. My boyfriend had $500 and a good pair of warm gloves he let me wear when it snowed or rained. We owned sleeping bags and a tent. He had a 550 Triumph (oh those electrical problems!), was a good driver, and gasoline was 40 cents per gallon. What could go wrong?
We ended up traveling thousands of miles in heavy wind, rain, fog, and unbearable heat but also on perfectly crisp mornings, and amazing sunlit days. We traveled the Alaskan pipeline before it had been completed and helped a friend build a log cabin on his property in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands.
We tested our mettle and we tested our relationship. Everything survived.
The memories of that summer don’t fade into oblivion like the summers I worked in the department store and ate pizza on Friday nights.
I took the courage I garnered from this trip forward with me into my future. I found out that I was not a lightweight and that quality of spirit has served me many times over the years.
Similarly, after a six-month trip to Europe almost a decade later, my husband Billy and I purchased a restaurant with some creative family financing. “Everyone” told us we should not pursue this venture and that we had surely overreached. We were 27 years old and our financial futures were on the line.
Failure wasn’t an option.
Our blood, sweat, and tears paid for that restaurant and it certainly was not an easy career choice. We did not have holidays off, a 401k program, or an employee sponsored pension. We paid for our own health care.
But on the other hand, we matured young and built a sense of self-reliance that money can’t purchase.
We still hold the perspective that if there is a choice between taking a chance that will enrich your life or staying put in entrenched security, one should take the chance.
If you were to look back on your life, the colorful, most outstanding memories are the ones where you reached for the stars, where you put yourself on the line and took a personal or professional chance.
I guess my point is that risk has a price but so does security. I think risk pays better.
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.