- Benjamin Franklin -
I am on the last two days of my European trip. It was a good trip. I established many new connections. I met interesting people. I signed up several important strategic contracts and I had a good time with my brilliant and insightful son.
I always have time to think during these trips. I usually pick up some local books, magazines and comic books to learn about a new culture, people and their way of living. I was strolling at one of the few remaining bookstores on Regent street and all of a sudden I saw Seth Godin’s new book The Icarus Deception, I read the first few pages and when I got back to the hotel I got my fancy kindle version of the book.
As I was reading the book, somewhere in the first 50 pages, Mr. Godin poses a question. Is it better to be safe than sorry or is it better to be sorry than safe?
This is really an interesting question, right? From childhood we are taught it is much better to be safe than sorry. I was taught it is better to arrive 30 minutes early to a test. It’s better to find a safety job in a big and safe corporation. It’s better to see what others do before deciding what you should do. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
It does make a lot of sense.
As I am thinking about all my safe decisions I have made so far in my life, I notice something really strange. Sometimes being safe led me over time to be sorry. I am sorry I didn’t open my second store when I had the opportunity (it was not “safe”). I am sorry I didn’t invest in a new ice cream flavors when I had the opportunity (it didn’t seem “safe”). I even hear many of my friends saying “I am sorry I stayed with this horrible company for so long. It is just not safe to leave your secured (and unfulfilling) job”.
So is it really better to be safe than sorry?
In a lot of cases it is much better to be safe than sorry. It’s better to have backup plans for your business various events. It’s better to double check your financials before making a strategic decision instead of being sorry after that. It’s safer to come to a meeting well prepared and well researched instead of being sorry after the meeting for not being prepared for it.
However, from time to time being safe just leads you straight into being sorry. Many times it’s better to be sorry for taking on a unique opportunity which does not seem “safe”. It is good sometimes to be sorry. Without being sorry and being always safe we miss a lot of opportunities. We miss our ability to create, to connect, to inspire and to be inspired.
Today I am starting a new venture. It is not a safe one. I might be laughed upon. It might fail miserably. I might be sorry, but I’ll rather be sorry than safe. I’ll rather attempt and fail than be safe without any attempts. I’ll rather fly than sleep. I am going for it. I am leaving my safety zone to inspire and to be inspired.
Are you playing too safe? What can you do today that is not safe?