Safety, Comfort, and Risk

Safety, Comfort, and Risk

The night before my husband ran his first marathon, I paced our hotel room.

He’d been training for months.

During his training, he ran many many miles, as marathoners do.

When I could, I joined him. Sometimes I joined him for his shorter runs, when he would dial back his fast pace to match mine.

I rode my bike alongside him on his twenty mile runs, to carry water and keep him company.

On the night before his first marathon, we met some college friends for dinner and returned to our hotel.

He set out his clothes, pinned his race number onto his singlet, tucked gel packs into his shorts.

I paced.

Though it seems crazy now, I was afraid that he would collapse during the race. I was afraid he would die. 

Even though I had ridden beside him when he had run distances very close to the distance of the race, even though I knew intellectually that the statistics were on his side, I was still afraid.

I might have even preferred that we turn off the alarm and sleep in the next morning instead.

Our hotel room felt safe and comfortable, not quite home, but more predictable than a 26.2 mile road race.

We had a restless night but in the morning, despite scorching sun, he ran well. He didn’t die.

He did something big, something he was proud of. Because he ran that first race, he ran many more marathons later, faster and stronger than the first.

In order to do big things, we have to take risks. Once we face those risks, we create many new possibilities for ourselves and others.

What risks are you taking?

Are you taking physical risks? Emotional risks? Relational risks?  Financial risks? Professional risks? Intellectual risks?

Relational Risks. We relate to new people. We relate in new ways. We make ourselves vulnerable. We trust. We care. We encourage. We initiate.

Professional risks. We try new tasks. We tackle new projects. We accept new responsibilities. We explore the potential of our untapped talent.

Intellectual risks. We think about the world in new ways. We listen to new ideas. We think about things from a new perspective. We let go of assumptions and preconceptions.

When we take risks, we will not be safe or comfortable. We will be stretched. We will grow.

We will make mistakes. We will fail.

We will accomplish more than we ever thought we could.

Tell me about the risks you’re taking. What are you most afraid of? What is holding you back? What inspires you to take risks? Which risks are most difficult for you?  

To read more of my recent thoughts about risk, visit the Lead Change Group Blog, where I shared some thoughts yesterday about Becoming Visible.

Filed As:  marathons, comfort

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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  • Great post again! We are on similar wavelengths as I have been thinking and writing about risks as well. For me, taking that risk is inspired by wanting to be on a different path, going in a different direction. This is what motivates me to think it through, get a plan together, and then begin taking the steps.

    The most challenging risks to take are the engaged life risks – risks which will take you in a different direction.

    Thanks. Appreciate the conversation!

  • Risk taking! Eeeeewww! 😉

    Seriously, though. Nothing important ever gets done without risking something.

    Right now I’m in the process of writing a sales page for a service I’m starting called C.A.U.S.E. sessions (C.A.U.S.E. stands for Clarity, Accountability, Utility, Strategy, and Execution). I’m targeting going public on Monday. I’m really nervous and can think of a thousand reasons why this might fail. But again, nothing great ever happens without risking something.

    So I put my ego out there and try to pursue something that in my heart really matters. The fear, of course, is that I’ll be rejected and laughed at and ultimately fail. The fear may or may not be rational, but it’s there anyway. But if I’m going to accomplish my dream of helping people reach theirs, I push forward in spite of the fear and, hopefully, become a better and more compassionate man as a result.

    Thanks for reminding me of the necessity of risk and of it’s ultimate reward. You’re story has given me courage to press on.

  • To grow we must take risks. To take risks we must face our fears. To face our fears, we must acknowledge that we have them.

    To often we get stuck in the comfort zone where we are not prepared to even acknowledge our fears, let alone face them. Even if that fear is that we are stuck in our comfort zone and afraid of making a change.

  • I’m not a big fan of taking risks, personally. But I admire people who are courageous, and I do want to be courageous. So I take God at His Word when He promises to be with me. I step out into the unknown and trust that He will guide me. When this involves being vulnerable with others, leaving myself open for criticism or doing a new task the only hope I have is that I am in God’s hands. He is the Potter and I am the clay. I want to give Him permission to mold and shape me however He chooses even when it involves being courageous.

  • Eighteen months ago, something happened to me for the first time – my 10-year tenure with a nonprofit doing work I loved (building leaders, speaking to audiences, and deepening and broadening networks) was eliminated. I had a corner office with a view. Co-workers were like family. I had more than a position, I had passion and purpose. And the decision hit me like a freight train.

    Another first for me — unemployment. I had a master’s degree, had worked and taught around the country. People knew me. People knew what I did. Shameful and humiliated, I claimed unemployment.

    With my unique set of skills in a community of 10,000 people, there wasn’t much work. Three times I thought I’d get the job, only to be rejected. I had a handful of client projects here and there, enough to force me to stay engaged with the content I loved, but my heart wasn’t in it. While I wanted to believe people when they said, “Oh, you’ll find something,” or “Things happen for a reason, it will all work out,” I’d offer a half-hearted nod and say thanks. Through support and guidance, I realized that I had lost myself – who I was – in my what I did. My self-identity was intertwined in my work, resulting in priorities that weren’t in the right place. When I lost my job, I lost myself.

    It was the love of family and very close friends, with divine intervention, that allowed me to find myself. Much like the caterpillar slowly emerges from its chrysalis to unfold its wings and finally take flight, a new-and-improved version — whom I refer to as Angie, version two-point-oh. =)

    Fast-forward a few months. An executive director position for a small nonprofit in my community opened up. I put together a whopper of an application — and landed an interview did.

    Two days ago, I spent a few hours learning more about the organization and position, and left knowing in my heart that it wasn’t a good fit. Talking through the situation with my husband, parents, and a close leaderfriend, I took a risk and withdrew my application.

    An idea had been forming in my head, and I saw an opportunity to “see a need, fill a need” (from the movie “Robots”). I announced the launch of Angie Chaplin Leadership Partners, a home-based sole proprietorship that builds and grows workforces as leaders at every level, and partners with clients to build or maintain a dynamic, consistent, interactive online presence as a social media manager.

    I still have a corner office with a view – a corner of my kitchen with a view into my backyard. I have two clients – one local and one national – with interest from a growing list of small businesses who realize social media’s importance yet don’t know, don’t have time, or don’t have the budget to do it themselves.

    My most important and highest priority client is my family — including my husband and two growing leaders in 3rd & 5th grades, plus my parents, a sister and her family who live in the community too. Relationships with extended family are also important, and I am blessed with mentors, coaches, and leaderfriends.

    The risks Becky mentions are reality to me. Exciting times are ahead, but not without risks. I will make mistakes. I will take steps back, but more steps forward. I’ve found the place where my passion and purpose intersect — I’ve found my calling.

    • Good luck Angie. Going out on my own has been the best thing I have ever done. There are dark days when the work is not there and the permanent positions with a firm doing something you know does not fit with who you are seem to be the only way forward. There are far many more good days (and great moments in otherwise average days) so hang in there. Listen for the small voice inside that will remind you of your calling. Read Steven Pressfield’s ‘The War of Art’, Seth Godin’s ‘Poke the Box’ and do what you know you must.

      • Thank you, Paul. I appreciate your kindness and compassion, and will definitely add those books to my leadership library.

        Lead on,

  • Becky –
    Thanks for sharing your personal story, and bringing to life your subject matter on Risk. As I believe someone else alluded to…”Nothing Risked, Nothing Gained!”

    Stepping out of your comfort zone is so challenging to alot of us – the unknown can scare the life out of us – but when you take that risk, you come out the other side better for it…well, there is nothing better.

    For many of us, the economic downturn over the past two years, and the elimination of jobs we thought were secure, has left us thinking about risk a lot more…and choosing that path more and more often. And for alot us, the other side has been a breath of fresh air!

    Thanks Becky for your story and post – it left its mark!


  • Thanks for another great post Becky. On the day you posted this I had lunch with a man who has been a teacher of mine for over a decade. I didn’t have any particular reason to speak with him, I just took a risk and invited him to lunch.

    Over the last few months I have been sharing with people what I really think. What I hope for. What I am feeling afraid of. I approached the lunch in the same way and I was again rewarded with a REAL conversation. What he was afraid of. What he hoped for. Some important things he had learned.

    Some people don’t want to have real conversations and I respect that. But having said that it has been my experience that if you take a risk and open the doors and show them who you really are there is almost a sense of relief that they are able to share something of the same with you. Blogging has probably helped me to be more comfortable doing that (nothing like publicly admitting you were afraid your partner might die!)

    So the relationship risks are the ones that are easiest for me at the moment. The professional risks are the ones that I need to keep working on….

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