Monday Motivator: Don’t Make Safety Your Only Goal

Jim Carrey in a commencement speech, talked about his father, who was naturally funny and could have been a comedian. However, he chose safety and went to a job that he didn’t like for years. Then, when he was middle-aged, he was let go. It was then Carrey said that he realized that going the safe route was no guarantee of actual safety. And if doing something safe was going to result in failure anyway, why not try for the goal you really want?

I’m always hesitant to take these sorts of stories at face value. Because it is one person looking at another person’s life and coming up with conclusions that may or may not be warranted.  Who knows the full story? Maybe Carrey’s dad was willing to work at a job he hated because it provided enough security for him to give his son options. And most people don’t become rich and famous like Jim Carrey, so there is no guarantee that if his father had joined the comedy tour, that he would have made it or even liked the grind or the travel. There are certainly miserable comedians out there.

But there is also something to be learned from the story. Failure can find us in many ways. A roommate of mine in college majored in petroleum engineering. At the time, it was considered one of the safe majors (if you could pass all the math and engineering courses.) She actually liked the program, but some people were in it just for the money. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld says.) But a few years after she graduated, the bottom fell out of the oil market. She told me that there were months when, each day, she saw colleagues walking out of the office with their personal belongings in a cardboard box.

We can minimize but never eliminate risk. Therefore, it makes sense that when making a choice, we don’t make safety our only criterion.

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