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Choose a Daring Adventure

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: Beadmobile

Helen Keller is an historical figure who never fails to inspire me.  Whenever I’m facing something that I’d rather not face, I remember Helen Keller.  Not only did she survive a terrifying illness as a young child, it left her blind and deaf.  Think about it… she’s a little girl and her life is good.  Then she’s feeling not so good… and then really bad – probably going in and out of those weird dreams we all get when running a really bad fever.  Finally, the fever breaks.  She wakes up and everything is dark and silent.  She must have been absolutely terrified!

Her childhood experience, understandably, left her with an underlying sense of insecurity, which she wrote about:

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security 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 exposure.

My own most recent terrifying experience/daring adventure has just begun.  One of the ways that I keep the wolf away from the door is to do contract training/ development/ technical writing.  I’ve been doing contract work off and on for the last 17 years.  I enjoy it because it never gets boring.  I get to go work with a customer on a project, learn about that part of their business, develop/deliver training, and then I leave – until the next opportunity.

But no matter how many times I do this, starting with a new client is always a bit nerve wracking.  Everything is unfamiliar.  The route to get there, where to buy gas (which is a bigger concern when you’re going almost 100 miles/day), and where’s the local Starbucks?  All of these are small things that add up to at least one big thing.  It often feels like they’re a lot of big things.

They aren’t BIG things, but if I let myself, I can turn this molehill into a mountain.  Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll figure out where everything is and I’ll get to know my new bosses and co-workers and soon I won’t be able to imagine not knowing my way around.

Security Does Not Exist

The thing is that we often remember the time when we were unsure and lost, and worried about the impression we were making, more than we remember the comfortable time.  And so, we avoid the adventure.  We choose the “sure thing.”  We forget that, “Security does not exist in nature…”

Previous to this client, I had worked in the mortgage industry at a company that didn’t survive the downturn.  I had been there, off and on for about five years – not consecutively, but cumulatively.  Over and over I was asked why I didn’t just come to work for them.  My response was that I had multiple clients and coming to work there would mean giving up the flexibility that allowed me to have many clients.  They felt that I was taking a terrible risk by not becoming an employee.  In the end, we all were laid off together, the employees and the contractors.  None of us had any control of the situation – not the CEO and not the lowly trainers.

Avoiding Danger Does Not Bring Safety

In reality, “adventuring” prepares us to deal with what life dishes out.  There was a time when my territory was East LA.  Then it was the South Bay Curve (around LAX – for those of you not familiar with Southern California).  Since I’d never been anywhere farther than 15 miles from home, learning how to deal with a territory that was 50 miles away was a challenge.  But, over time, I learned how to read a Thomas Brothers map and get directions from my coworkers.  I learned how to do the “dangerous.”

I was careful and I never told my father where my territory was.  I was not living safely, but I was living.  I was trying new things and finding that I could do them.

When Ellie and I became partners, we traveled all over the United States, flying to places we’d never been to before; like Thunder Bay, Canada, where the gene pool is shallow and some of the inhabitants sleep in the middle of the road because it retains heat.  (That’s what they told me, I swear!)  If I hadn’t developed the skills to be comfortable in new places, I’d never have been able to get on the plane and go.  And I’d have missed out on so much!

So, what danger are you avoiding?  How are you choosing safety over adventure?  Is it time to try something new?  You’ll never know unless you try.

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Cup o’ Inspiration

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Take a short break and consider the following:

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose site of the shore.”

Andre Gide

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